“Focusing on the wrong data is nearly as bad as having no data,” says Scott East, co-author of The Cuttlefish Marketer: The Five Essential Traits of the Modern Marketer. But, unfortunately, sometimes focusing on the wrong data is exactly what marketing departments do.”
East suggests a few tips to help you avoid such pitfalls, and to make the best use of data to empower your marketing:
Define your goal. One of the most important factors for using data to empower marketing is to be able to define specifically what your goal is, East says. “When you’re looking for a needle in a haystack, it helps to know precisely what needle you’re looking for,” he says. “Otherwise, you’ll end up with a lot of useless needles. As a marketing executive, it’s your job to meticulously define your marketing goals so your IT teammates know what you’re looking for from them.”
Realize that data is fluid. Data doesn’t ever give you a final answer. “Because the world is constantly changing at an ever-increasing pace, data changes as well,” he says. “This requires an outlook that is far more flexible than what we may have been accustomed to in the past. As new information comes in, even our approach to data collection will constantly evolve.”
Create a corporate culture of accountability and transparency with data. “We’re good with data until it tells us something we don’t want to hear,” East says. Once that happens, though, people may be inclined to ignore the data and go with a gut feeling. Or, they are so committed to a particular course of action that they only use the data that supports their bias, and ignore the data that would give them a more complete — though undesired — picture. It’s important to have a culture where everyone has access to the data, regardless of whether the results of a particular campaign, product or service are positive or negative.
Redefine success. Success doesn’t mean you get everything right on the first try, East says. “The real success story is embracing negative data and then jumping on them to turn around the things that aren’t working,” he says. “That’s not to say you should try to fail. The goal of properly activated data is to help us succeed the first time as often as we can. But when we do fail, we should not let that discourage us.”
“Data is what empowers a marketing department, giving you the information you should have to be flexible and fast,” East says. “When you activate data, embracing transparency and accountability, you can learn fast and move fast.”