IBM recently conducted a survey of 1,700 CMOs as part of its inaugural Global Chief Marketing Officer Study. As a marketer, the most chilling statistic that I’ve uncovered: IBM estimates that 90% of the real-time data being collected by marketers simply isn’t being used. It’s not analyzed, reviewed, or used in any significant matter. In fact, 80% said they rely on “traditional” means for planning and evaluating their campaigns.
As a marketer, I find this exhilarating and depressing at the same time. Never have we, as marketers, been able to collect so much information. Never have we, as marketers, ignored so much information.
Not surprisingly, this is not an uncommon complaint. Advertisers (along with publishers, networks, and portals) have been developing their data sources robustly for years. What hasn’t been as robust is developing an understanding of how to use that data.
The advice I give our clients as part of our consulting service is to stop. And breathe. There is a lot of data. A lot of that data is from a new source, or it’s developed in a new way. It’s a lot of information. And it can and will create anxiety. Let’s start to figure this out so you can move your business forward.
The first, and most important thing you can do is catalogue your data. Sometimes we get so much data thrown at us, we don’t know where it’s coming from or what it’s good for. Social media alone can generate scads of data, but what good is it if you don’t know what you have? Invest the time to see what data you are collecting and have access to. Evaluate it – it’s important to know more about your site’s analytics suite than “it’s called Google Analytics”. A major part of the cataloging process is developing an understanding of what data you are collecting, how much you can trust it, and what it’s telling you. Is Google Analytics telling you how many people visit your site? Or, is it telling you how many unique people are visiting your site? If you don’t know the difference, you may not think much of the distinction, but it’s important. Figure out what you have before you fret about not using it.
Once you have a good sense of what data you’re collecting, take a look at some comparisons with “traditional” measurement tools. You’ll quickly discover the most baseline of your “unexplored” data is the top level of most “traditional” information – because it’s fresher, it’s based on actuals (not models), and because it’s yours. This will provide you with veracity in all your data sets (both “traditional” and “unexplored”), but where cataloging got you familiar with your new data, a comparative analysis will get you comfortable with your data by allowing you to see your data in relative terms.
Next, take a look at the scope of your catalogue. While it’s easy to say, I can tell you it’s no small feat to look at all that data and decide what’s worth keeping, and what’s worth ignoring. The familiarity you’ve built by cataloging your data sources will come through when you evaluate what you have. You’ll quickly toss aside a lot superfluous information, but you’ll also get an understanding of the applicability of what you have.
The rest is applying it – and that’s up to you. Refine your conversion path. Build or update your customer profiles. Inform your R&D department on what your customers are buying now and looking for tomorrow. Optimization is a never-ending process that runs on data. We are bombarded with so much information, it’s easy to shut down and not process a lot of what’s out there or run on a bare minimum – and that’s a huge mistake. While simply getting over the fear of the information assault and tackling it head on may seem daunting, understanding the depth and breadth of the information that is waiting untapped will drive your business forward.