Ana­lyt­ics mat­ter, but look­ing at the most data won’t make you the smartest mar­keter in the room.

In fact, the more data you look at, the more you may com­pro­mise your decision-making capabilities.

Data Mat­ters

Now, data does mat­ter. In fact, data mat­ters so much I’d argue it forms the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem of all effec­tive dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing cam­paigns. With­out data and ana­lyt­ics, you can’t have effec­tive dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, espe­cially since effec­tive dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing comes down to this:

  1. Find­ing and com­mu­ni­cat­ing the data that makes an impact
  2. Putting that data to work by lis­ten­ing to it and let­ting it inform your actions

Effec­tive dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing is a lit­tle more com­pli­cated than that. But it’s not that much more com­pli­cated, and these two data-driven points sum up the back­bone of every effec­tive dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing cam­paign I’ve ever seen.

The Wrong Approach to Data

As impor­tant as data and ana­lyt­ics are to effec­tive dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, just “work­ing with the data” isn’t some cure-all for a poorly per­form­ing cam­paign. After all, you can look at data with­out set­ting a cam­paign goal, you can set a cam­paign goal and then look at the wrong data, and you can uti­lize data poorly by adopt­ing the wrong ana­lyt­i­cal tools. All these approaches tech­ni­cally run data through the meat grinder, but none of them will lead to the sorts of favor­able mar­ket­ing out­comes you were promised when you were told about the power of Big Data.

You need to be smart about the data you accu­mu­late for your mar­ket­ing cam­paigns, but even more impor­tantly, you need to be smart about the way you exe­cute on that data. More often than not, accu­mu­lat­ing the right data and exe­cut­ing prop­erly on that data depend on uti­liz­ing the right ana­lyt­ics tools.

If you try to han­dle your mar­ket­ing campaign’s data with­out the right tools, you will either find your­self lost, try­ing to per­son­ally sort through all the data your chan­nels accu­mu­late, or worse, you’ll resolve your­self to aim­lessly spend your time “work­ing on the data,” as if absent­mind­edly glanc­ing at raw met­rics for 12 to 24 hours a week guar­an­tees mar­ket­ing success.

More Time + More Data = More Success?

If you think my “12 to 24 hours a week” point sounds a lit­tle like I’m set­ting up some sort of straw man argu­ment here, just con­sider what dig­i­tal ana­lyt­ics blog­ger Avinash Kaushik stated in a recent post titled Eight Silly Data Myths Mar­ket­ing Peo­ple Believe That Get Them Fired: “A bench­mark for you: If you are not spend­ing 30% of your time in 2013 with data, Mrs./Mr. Mar­keter, you’ll fail to achieve pro­fes­sional success.”

Avinash is a smart per­son, and he makes a few good points in this post, espe­cially when he says you need to focus on mak­ing sure your mar­ket­ing expen­di­tures turn a profit instead of obsess­ing over reduc­ing cost per click or cut­ting other cor­ners in your mar­ket­ing budget.

Just as your mar­ket­ing expen­di­tures need to turn a profit, the time you spend with data needs to deliver results, and stat­ing you just need to take a set amount of time “with data” to deliver those results is as wrong minded as say­ing you just need to spend a set amount of money on mar­ket­ing to turn a profit.

In my next post, we’ll talk about keep­ing up with data as its avail­abil­ity con­tin­ues to be eas­ier and the veloc­ity and vol­ume of data con­tin­ues to grow.