Don’t get us wrong—we love data. But just like delicious bean burritos, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Today’s marketers have access to more data than ever before, and we can’t get enough of it. We gobble up analytics from every media channel and feel satisfied knowing we have access to so many marketing stats. But sometimes, we bite off more than we can chew.
While data is the key to understanding pretty much everything about our customers, it can be difficult to keep all the numbers straight and find insights that actually help the bottom line. But it is possible. You just need to know what big-data pitfalls to avoid as you deal with the numbers on a daily basis. Steer clear of these data dangers.
1. Data Overload
If there is ever a chance to gather more data about our target audiences, we jump on it. We’re constantly looking for new insights to help us create unique marketing messages that resonate with our customers, so we keep gathering more and more data. But more data may not be the solution.
Sometimes too much data is just that – too much. In order for more data to be effective, you need to understand how to use the data and extract insights that are actually useful. Staring at pages and pages of data isn’t going to do you any good. In fact, that’s a solid recipe for a nervous breakdown. So before you start gathering more data, make sure you know what to do with the data you already have.
2. Incomplete Data
Do you know where ALL your conversions are coming from? Are they coming from paid search ads? Facebook? Phone calls? If you don’t have complete data from all of your lead sources, you have a problem. Too often, we see businesses tracking their online channels like champs, but when it comes to offline channels, they’re in the dark. And in our omnichannel world, the line between online and offline activity is blurry.
For example, you may think a landing page isn’t performing well because it has a low clickthrough rate, even though it may be driving high-converting phone calls. Without a comprehensive view of you lead sources, there’s no way to effectively optimize your marketing campaigns. Check out how Vivint Smart Home learned how to get complete data from their landing pages with call intelligence.
3. Skewed Focus
We all have our vanity metrics; they make us look great, but don’t actually have any impact on the bottom line. While we love it when our whitepaper gets a ton of downloads or our raw pageviews are off the charts, these may not be the numbers that we should be basing our marketing decisions on. Look through your metrics and find which ones are actually leading to conversions. And be sure to look at both online and offline data points. As we already mentioned, your online tactics may be leading to offline conversions, so make sure you’re looking at the full picture. Forget about your vanity metrics; start looking at actionable metrics.
4. Creative Paralysis
We’ve all been in those brainstorming sessions where someone comes up with a great idea only to be shot down by a Debbie Downer who says, “That’s not supported by the data.” We get it, the data knows best. But sometimes when we’re thinking of so many data points, it makes creativity and innovation impossible. If you want to come up with great ideas, you need to create an environment that encourages great ideas, and sometimes data can be stifling.
So what are you supposed to do? You can’t ignore the data—that would be irresponsible. And you can’t let the creatives run wild—that’s just crazy. But you need to find a happy balance. Maybe you let the creatives go a little wild and let the data reel them in after their creative juices have been exhausted. But don’t stifle ideas before they’re given a chance because you never know what other great ideas could come from that one crazy idea.
5. Dehumanizing Customers
When you’re looking at numbers all day, it’s hard to not think in terms of numbers. As soon as we forget that each lead or conversion is an actual person with unique behaviors, interests, and desires, we need to refocus. We need to remember that each number is a person. If you haven’t already created personas for each of your target audiences, it may be a good idea. Putting an actual face with the data can go a long way to helping you understand your customers. Which brings me to my next point.
When we look at the data, we’re trying to predict when and where each customer’s next transaction is coming from. Our main purpose for targeting customers is to get the next sale. This is a very shortsighted approach. While you may gain a tactical advantage in the short term, you’ll lose sight of your customer and lose in the long term. Instead of chasing the next buy, we need to be using big data to provide value for our customers. Ask not what the data can do for you; ask what the data can do for your customers.
7. Non-Scalable Segments
Personalization is huge right now, and everyone is trying to get on the bandwagon. So you gather tons of customer data in order to personalize and segment your audiences only to find that it’s no longer scalable. If you personalize one page for one segment, you shouldn’t have a problem. The problem arises when you have six different segments, eight geographies, five divisions, 30 sites, and 2,000 different places you want to personalize. If you’re planning on segmenting and personalizing on this scale, you need to make sure your structure is on point, otherwise, it just isn’t going to work.
See, data really is just as good as a bean burrito; you just need to know how to keep the data in check. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed, keep your focus on the relevant data points, don’t forget the bottom line, and have fun.