If you have been reading my blogs, then you know that I have come to love math. It wasn’t easy, but I learned how to embrace the numbers and use them to evaluate the performance of marketing campaigns.

Data has been digital’s gift to marketers. It allows us to know how our marketing programs are performing and determine what is working or not. It also lets us make adjustments along the way.  We no longer have to follow the HiPPo (highest paid person in the room) principle to make decisions. In a way, digital has democratized the access to data and data rules.

However, this democratizing has also made us more susceptible to that torrential floodwater of Big Data. That’s because it is literally BIG. Actually, it is HUGE and it is coming to us faster than ever in enormous quantities. There is so much of it, it is easy to be overwhelmed and drowned in the virtual sea of data.

Over the past couple years, we have developed a few “coping mechanisms” so that we manage the data instead of letting the data manage us. The result is that we have true insights, which allows us to take proper action. Let me share our secret sauce.

Step 1: Set Your KPIs Carefully

Start the process with a definition of key performance indicators (KPIs)—quantifiable measures that are used to monitor performance to ensure the achievement of strategic and operational goals. Adobe’s marketing strategy is based on the funnel: acquisition, conversion, and retention. We break out each phase of the funnel to discover the key drivers of each part. For example, the number of app launches drives conversion and active use drives retention. We measure and set our KPIs based on driving these key actions.

Step 2: Have a Single Source of Truth

While it is good to democratize access to data, you also need to be certain that everyone is pulling from the same source. I have learned through painful experience that you want to avoid dueling data sets at all costs or you will find yourself wasting hours and hours arguing about which set of data is right. At Adobe we have one team that is responsible for getting and analyzing the data: the Marketing Insights and Operation group (MIO). This assures that the data you use is the right one. They are our single source of truth; the one stop shop to define, pull, and analyze the data that we will use.

Step 3: Have a Process that Takes You from Insight to Action

Once you get the right data, you need to have a precise process for analyzing and reporting it. We have experimented with this a lot and found that a weekly two-hour meeting that includes all the relevant stakeholders from the core marketing groups (such as Campaign, Media, Website, PR, Social, etc.) works best. The meeting is led by the campaign effectiveness manager from the MIO team. Everyone looks at the data together to draw insights and agree to the action that each team needs to take to ensure that we hit our KPIs. The MIO leader then publishes a dashboard that includes the data, insights, and action plan that is distributed widely throughout the company. This not only promotes collaboration, but it ensures that the team can quickly get on the same page and move forward.

Carefully setting KPIs and having a single source of truth and an efficient process of getting from data to action has made us much more effective and nimble. Most importantly, it allows us to turn that avalanche of data into actionable and useful insight.

You see, it is not as complicated as you thought.