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.