When I started my business career, marketing numbers were thin on the ground. Today, data is everywhere. However, I suspect we may be over or misusing it, and in my view, this can harm the marketing process.
What is more, I don’t think it is just in the field of marketing where the ability to measure everything is causing issues. How often do you hear the words…..
“We need evidence…..”
Too often people are afraid to do anything without evidence to show that it is the right thing to do and the mountains of data that are available in the modern marketing world make this request seem very reasonable.
However, I think that this approach can lead to paralysis and a situation where you are so scared of getting it wrong, or making a mistake, that you spend all your time gathering evidence, and never actually getting round to doing anything!
Alternatively, you may take action, and because the data suggests it is not working, you take a knee jerk reaction and stop the activity, without looking at the bigger picture or giving your activity time.
In my experience, just because your activity doesn’t lead to the results you expect doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t working. It may just be taking longer than expected, or delivering unexpected (but still valuable) results.
There is an alternative.
I should say at this point that I think that measuring your marketing and using data to inform your decisions is vital.
“What Gets Measured Gets Improved”Peter Drucker
It’s true, if you aren’t measuring what is coming out of your marketing activity, you can’t take steps to make it better and more efficient. The fact is that life is complicated, and the data is rarely definitive in what it is telling you? In reality, it needs interpretation.
The key is to use the data to inform your actions and not to make purely data-driven decisions
If you have been in your industry for a while, you are likely to have an instinct for what works and what doesn’t in your sector. Most good marketing starts from this position. Knowing who your target markets are, and what makes them tick.
On the back of that, you will take decisions on how best to communicate your message to these audiences.
At this stage, sometimes you will be right, and sometimes wrong. as a result, your efforts will be more or less successful.
This is where the data comes in. With modern metrics like Google analytics, you can measure the results of your actions.
- Are people visiting & engaging with your website?
- Are they spending time on the site reading your blogs or watching your videos?
- Are they clicking links to download White Papers and Techincal Data Sheets etc.?
- Are they filling in forms to make enquiries to you?
This data will tell you if your intuitive actions are paying dividends, and inform decisions as to how things can be improved further.
Wood for the Trees?
With so much data around these days it is often difficult to see “The Wood for the Trees”.
How about this approach:
- Take actions
- Know what you are trying to achieve and use data to measure how you are succeeding
- Use this to inform Adjustments and developments your actions
This approach allows you to use the data to manage your business whilst staying in control.
Henry Ford famously said.
“Half my advertising spend is wasted, I just don’t know which half”
With the data available today, whilst you still have to accept that not every pound spent on marketing will be effective, you can now start to get a window into the “wasted half“, and start to use it more effectively.