Data is the most dangerous 4 letters in marketing in the 21st-century. As marketers and executives we need to focus on only the data, reports, and analytics that matter vs. vanity metrics and products & SaaS platforms that make executives feel good but contribute little in the way of actionable information. Specifically, if a piece of technology or a cadre of data doesn’t either (a) help your company better target your ideal client/better speak to that audience, or (b) help you optimize your campaigns for better ROI, that’s a waste of your money and time.
For example, if we are talking about attribution models – the attempt via analytics to more correctly determine what ad channel should be given credit for a sale or, rather, how much more or less credit to be given versus relying only on “last click” understandings – and that model isn’t a zero-sum game, that’s a great example of data that’s a waste of your time. Fun to look at? Sure. Makes executives feel good that they are doing some fancy things with tracking their customers well before the last click to purchase? Absolutely. But it’s not actually useful to help a digital media buyer spend money better or help a company better deploy their ad budget.
Moreover, just because some salesperson is saying their SaaS product has “machine learning” or is “powered by AI”, that not only might not be helpful to you, but it might be flat out wrong. The popularity for the majority of professionals do not really understand the difference between these two phrases, and the fear of missing out on some shiny new thing that could be a silver bullet (*do you wonder if anyone you know drops in “crypto” or “blockchain” into their LinkedIn profile for literally no legitimate reason? I absolutely do) are driving the majority of the ability to SELL you based on buzzwords. And the bigger point is that to use data to actually HELP your company, you might just need better reporting. Not even analytics (remember: a report shows performance; analytics tells a story), but just good old fashioned reporting.
So be brave! Buck the herd! Don’t feel like you need to investigate a new piece of tech just because it’s new or is said to use machine learning. Don’t forget that what most of our companies really need is just more accurate – and less but more important – data and reporting that focuses on either better targeting your customers or better optimizing your digital campaigns.
That’s it. Sometimes it’s less data, not more. Ignore the hailstorm of white noise in data and your marketing – and company – will thank you.
Take a look at our video and conversation from DIG SOUTH 2019 and see what other common pitfalls there are in 2019 and beyond when talking and consuming data in 21st-century marketing.
Article submitted by Thomas Donohoe, Founder & CEO, Level Agency. Donohoe is the author of The CEO’s Digital Marketing Playbook, due out in October 2019. A digital media buyer at heart, he is passionately committed to creating solutions and fostering conversations around better marketing ROI and real-world, data-driven methods.