How to gain strategic insights from data : A model to guide you

Posted by Alison Leishman

The world of digital marketing changes continuously, which means we need to adapt the way we work to ensure we stay at the top of our game and deliver the best for our clients. This challenge and opportunity resulted in the development of a data analysis model for our business - the SQS model.

Why you need a data analysis model

At Spitfire Inbound we use the SQS model, adapted from the well known data pyramid or DIKW model. Firstly, SQS stands for Strategic Question Set and it is exactly that, a set of strategic questions we use when doing any work with our clients - from onboarding new clients for a marketing campaign,  to setting up sales email campaigns and reporting on them as well as for ongoing optimisation of any marketing, sales or service campaign that is running. Our team uses these question sets to analyse how the data they are looking at is relevant and valuable to their current or optimised strategy.

It ensures that we are looking at data within context in order to make decisions, take actions and align strategy.

The pain point we faced as a business was that we had a large database with a variety of data that’s used by an ever-growing team. As a new, or even old, team member, it can be easy to get lost and overwhelmed in all this data. We looked at a number of methods to help our team not ‘recreate the wheel’ each time we signed a new client or started a new strategy for an existing client. Having processes in place assists this, but there remains the challenge of how to use the data strategically

Understanding the SQS model

According to CTO at Roofstrap, Anthony Figueroa, the origin of the DIKW is a poem by T.S.Eliot in his 1934 poem called “The Rock”. 

In the DIKW model, D represents data, I represents information, K represents knowledge and W represents wisdom.

For the SQS model we have adapted this to
1. Data
2. Meaning from context
3. Action
4. Strategic alignment

 ‘D’ stands for Data and this is can be any type of data your business receives. The data is the starting point and it informs you of the next step in your strategy.  Standard operating procedure in this part of the model is doing research in order to gather the data available.. I often say, “One data point does not a story make.” We need to understand that there are multiple data points and if the data isn’t accurate, then everything that follows becomes irrelevant. HubSpot and Databox have been great tools to use to get all the data we have for a client in one place.

‘I’ is Information, and as Anthony says, it’s about, “When you start to make data useful. Information is data with meaning.” We aligned this to our business by calling it ‘context’. Viewing the data in context allows us to  gain insights that inform actions to improve strategies.


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DIKW pyramid

We remodelled the DIKW pyramid to fit our business' process and procedures.

‘K’ stands for Knowledge which we renamed as Action. “Knowledge allows us to detect patterns. It implicitly requires learning. It means that we can take data, categorize and process it generating information, then organize all this information in a way that it can be useful,” says Anthony Figueroa. Action is the data combined with the client’s context at that specific time. Truly understanding this allows you to take action and optimise your strategy.  This step is crucial to help with your decision making and prioritisation for both online and offline activities.

The ‘W’ stands for Wisdom which we interpret in the SQS model as Strategic alignment. “Wisdom allows us to predict the future correctly, not only by detecting and understanding patterns but also deeply comprehending the ‘Why’ behind those patterns. It relies on Knowledge and pattern models, but it can help to shape your ‘gut feeling’ and intuition, giving you an exponential competitive advantage,” says Towards Data Science. Strategic Alignment is the culmination of analysing the data within the context and evaluating if the strategy needs to be updated to continue to  align with the actions being taken.

How we use the SQS model in reporting:

1. Data

    • Which of the lists have changed?
    • What changes have happened?
    • How am I tracking against my goals?
    • Which segmentation has shown no change?
    • Are my subscribers growing?
    • What is my conversion rate?

2. Context

    • Was there an offline event that occurred during the time period in which this campaign was created which would impact on the online data?
    • Have there been any external factors in the industry that would have impacted on the results shown by the data?
    • Is there a specific reason why I would need to pull a list of contacts from specific forms?

3. Action

    • Do I need to edit any of the forms that are on the best - performing pages to increase conversion rates?
    • What actions can I take in my monthly emails to improve Click through rates?
    • What action do I need to implement to improve the open rate on my sales emails?
    • Is there a segment I need to monitor that requires me to create a list?

4. Strategic Alignment

    • Should workflow email length and time between emails be optimised for personas?
    • What has happened in the client's company or industry that may require me to set up lists to monitor in the future?
    • Are the insights aligning with your current strategy?
    • Do I need to change my lifecycle criteria based on the feedback from sales regarding the quality of SQLs?

Why the SQS model works for Spitfire Inbound

As opposed to standard operating procedures for each step of our processes, we have thought-provoking questions (SQSs) that help our team think strategically about the campaign the are building or reporting on. The SQS model gives a framework for all activities in the business - to set up HubSpot portals strategically, , to put the right metrics in place to measure and track in consultation with the client and to build the Databox dashboard to have real time data available.   

One challenge of using this model -   looking at the data in the right context and getting those insights  - is there might be too many actionable insights! It does however assist us to prioritise which of the actions we need to start with in order to achieve the biggest impact at this time and for the future.

The SQS model is internalised by the team at Spitfire Inbound and this has resulted in benefit to our clients as we provide not only the data, but the data with value. The SQS model has allowed us to share valuable insights to inform strategies that produce results.  Using the SQS model has made what we do proactive rather than reactive, and encourages us to look at data strategically and holistically, and not just as a set of individual metrics.

Everyone needs a helping hand now and again. Our team of inbound experts are ready to train you to take your sales and marketing to the next level. Contact us today to find out how.

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