There is an ever-increasing volume and sophistication of information readily at our fingertips in today’s marketing landscape. Marketers preach that data is revolutionizing the marketing industry and providing endless opportunities to reach audiences and tailor targeting and content like never before. Among marketing professionals there seems to be a common obsession with data.
Don’t get me wrong, data is extremely important, and an integral part of our practice here at dagger. Metrics online and offline provide important insights to help tailor distribution, targeting and content creation. Whether you’re looking to gain awareness or increase conversions, the right metrics can reveal what is working, and what isn’t to optimize your marketing strategy. And as marketers, we should always be looking for insights to drive insightful decisions.
I see examples of brands using data every day, from Kohl’s who is using customer behavior data to drive its fashion products to eBay who is analyzing the purchasing behavior of its customers to identify new parents and target them with products as their child ages.
However, I caution that data isn’t everything. And here’s why:
Not all data is useful
It’s important to know what data is useful for your brand and business, and how to properly analyze and use it. Not all data is important so don’t spend all of your time and resources analyzing data. Not to mention there is always the possibility of sourcing bad data, misinterpretation of data, or biased data.
Data doesn’t always capture emotion and context
Human emotion is hard to measure, as is social and cultural contexts that can influence metrics. The 2016 election is a great example of data getting it wrong. Election polling data was not able to entirely capture human emotion, nor the cultural and behavioral differences in different parts of the country. With forecasting data predicting a Clinton win of 70 percent and higher, pollsters and voters alike were shocked with the outcome. Data failed to predict the emotional decisions that were made on November 8th, 2016.