Data and community marketing

clock 10 months ago

Find out about the different types of data, where to find data, and how to use data in your community marketing strategy.

Making data-driven decisions is often cited as the best way to create compelling marketing and even wider business choices.

However, people can be confused by data due to the sheer amount of it, the different types of data, or where to start in a world of multiple data sources, platforms, and resources.

Data should always inform your strategy and decision making. It delivers better results because using data is using facts.

“I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”

– Sherlock Homes in ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’

Head of PR and Marketing, Clare Harding, breaks down the different types of data, where to find data, and how to use data in your community marketing strategy.


When people think of data, they often envisage binary computing code or financial reports: perhaps the reason why ‘data’ can be considered a dirty word. Then, the term ‘big data’ is added, which compounds this confusion.

Big data is mainly large data sets, often used by data scientists to look at patterns and trends. 

At a simple level, data can be quantitative or qualitative. 

Quantitative data is mostly numerical, and objective. It is something that can be counted or measured. For example, the temperature today, or the cost of your coffee.

Qualitative data is more descriptive, and because of this, I would argue more rich and insightful. It can be thoughts, opinions, colours, for example ‘I prefer to drink Costa Coffee.’ That’s a preference, rather than a value. 

It’s best practice to use both types of data to improve your evaluation by ensuring balance and testing.


Digital has given marketers more data than ever before, as well as providing more ways to report and dissect activity. It also means there is less to hide behind; a billboard or radio advert can have some data attached to it, but not the level of data available from a web page or social media post, for instance.

Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager, Facebook Business Manager, Hootsuite, and Sprout are great places to start. Every social platform or email service provider has a level of data and reporting attached to it, whereas specific software can pull from multiple sources for you. There is lots of platform-specific training available to get you up to speed, like Facebook Blueprint.


Analysis is where it gets exciting. Using social listening to understand what your desired demographic is talking about and what they are passionate about can reveal a sweet spot for how you can connect with them as a brand.

If you understand the search terms or types of phrases that bring people to your website, use that as part of your content marketing. Data doesn’t always have to be about finding a breakthrough; it can also highlight what’s working and what you should maximise. 


Community marketing is part of brand strategy. It goes further than broadcasting to an audience and is focused on building a longer-term relationship with individuals and groups. It’s beyond transactional and can create advocates and loyalty for your brand.

In the context of brand or community building, data helps us to understand people and therefore refine our actions and messaging towards them.  

For example, we know the On The Tools community reacts better at certain times of the day, and to different formats on different platforms.  So we listen to the data and adapt what we’re doing to what works best for the community, and achieve more engagement by doing so.

When we work with a brand to build a community, it’s important to consider various data points to better understand how to connect. These data sources differ depending on the brand in question and can range from bespoke focus groups to understanding sales data provided.


There is no ‘one size fits all’ for data analysis. As ‘big data’ becomes more popular and with platforms and software changing rapidly, I believe that this will always be the case. However, what remains consistent is the use of data to make decisions. Go right back to cavemen, who:

“would compare sticks and notches to carry out rudimentary calculations, enabling them to make predictions such as how long their food supplies would last.”

“Big Data: A Brief(ish) History Everyone Should Read:”, The Smart Data Collective

That’s using data to make a decision. 

The data type doesn’t matter the most; it’s the process to use the data first, before making the plan of action that really matters. This is within the control of marketing and business professionals to implement. 

Want to know more about putting your community first? Find our services here.
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