Making data work for you: 5 tips from a marketing professional

a clothing label, a megaphone, a folder, speech bubbles with social media symbols inside them and a pie chart

Data is key to understanding your audience and honing your offering, and if personalisation is on your radar, data should be too. As in-house Digital Marketing Analyst, data is my tipple. Here, I share five top tips to help you mine data for success.

Digital Marketing Analysts do what exactly? 

My role at City & Guilds Kineo involves monitoring how users engage with our website, newsletters and social channels, and tracking search performance. I distil data into reports and recommend actions we could take to improve our marketing efforts. It’s not just about widening our audience, but to have people interact with our content as designed – whether that's downloading a report, clicking through to other content, or taking part in a survey.  

The basis for a lot of what we use is Google Analytics and HubSpot, and we generally track number of visits, click-throughs, time spent, and bounce rates – where people land on a page, then leave all together.  What can be recorded is endless, and there’s an art to working out what data is useful to our team and what is data white noise. Not all data is equal.

The benefits of data to L&D

In L&D, you have the potential to track and understand even more than in marketing. Unlike the average marketing team, you can know a lot more about your target audiences and can talk to them really easily to qualify findings. You can tap into and use a whole range of data to make some smart moves with your learning strategies.

Why mine that data? 

  1. Personalisation – this alone is a big enough reason. Promote relevant content to individuals based on who they are, what they last visited and what they like
  2. Improve – learn from data to make your content and strategies better and better 
  3. See what’s popular – which may be L&D, social or other content 
  4. Curate content – be guided to what’s hot or rated highly in the community 
  5. Profile learners for future projects – are there certain roles or groups who do X?
  6. Stimulate your social learning community – using league tables that rank popular content
  7. Gauge the technology culture of your audience   what do they use and how?

Google is great for data mining, but a modern LMS is too. Totara LMS tracks likes and peer ratings as well as completions and scores, and with Totara Social you can pull stats on the most visited or commented on pages.

Five tips for making data work

If you're embarking on a data trip, big or small, or want to go deeper with your analytics, here are five insider tips to help you.

a filter


Keep it clean

Keep your data clean and always keep a back-up. Filter out any known IP addresses that might skew your data, such as your LMS provider. In Google Analytics this is simply a filter added within the admin section, but be sure to set up a back-up filter-free view as well as a view for testing filters before making any live on your main reporting view.


a microscope


Go deeper than face value

With so much data available, you can report on all sorts. Set relevant KPIs for your LMS/online content that you monitor over time. Be careful not to take data at face value as it doesn't always lead you to the right insights. For example, it’s good to monitor bounce rate, but a high bounce rate doesn’t necessarily mean a problem. A contact us page will likely have a higher bounce rate than a homepage as that page is often the end of the user journey.

an eye


Use visualisation tools

A picture says a thousand words – the way you present your data is no different. Totara LMS dashboards display reports, such as team completion rates, via a built-in graphical reporting tool. If your LMS’s reporting is limited, using data visualisation tools such as Klipfolio can help highlight trends. Combining different data sources into the same report allows correlations between your LMS data and other internal systems to be easily identified.


two test tubes

Try AB testing

Group into UX design territory, this is where you test out which wording, layout or button, for example, works best by comparing two versions of a page or content that are identical in every other way, and assess which drives the most conversions (based on your key metrics). Something practical you could test quickly is whether buttons rather than text links help users on their journey through your learning. Kissmetrics has a great guide to colour theory to get you started. Other AB testing tools we love include Optimizely and VWO.

a thermometer

Create heat maps

Software such as Crazy Egg and Decibel Insights use heat maps to show you which areas of a page are most popular. This is different to numbers of visits or likes – heat maps show you how the audience interact with a given page, and show you which areas are 'hottest'. In L&D terms, we sometimes use eye tracking software to detect what people look at and how they explore a page. Heatmapping is a cheaper and easier way to get a sense of this. So if you want to promote some great new content, put it in a known hot area of your LMS homepage, rather than a colder area where you can tuck away less critical content.

Want to chat a bit more about developing your data mining capability? Get in touch

More in this series

Find out more...


You may also be interested in...

Leave us your comments...