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Getting Real About Data


As a business owner and strategist, nothing pains me more than seeing a client who truly wants to harness the power of data, but doesn’t know where to start. Or worse, I meet clients who have access to data, but are underwhelmed by the insights they are provided to make decisions.

For the former, it seems like there is so much to do to get going: connecting data sources, determining key performance indicators (KPIs), tagging assets, automating feeds, visualizing reports. For the latter, we often see uninspiring insights because there was never really clarity on the questions in the first place.

And to further complicate matters, there’s a stronger push than ever before to optimize, using data to make decisions and actually change something to save money or make marketing better. That’s the point of collecting data, right?

It’s a lot. And I’m not going to pretend it’s easy, but harnessing data is necessary to being a smart marketer today. And when it’s done well, as a true investment for the long-haul, amazing things can happen.

Just last week we held an analytics workshop with a client­­ where we were able to use data to illustrate:

  • Which marketing efforts are working and which are not
  • Which sales people are accepting and distributing leads
  • Which distributors are closing leads and how long it takes
  • Where customers are coming from geographically and what they’re interested in
  • And the best part of all, how many deals have been closed as a direct result of marketing

This was a great client meeting. There were high fives and even a little profanity used as the clients reveled in the sheer awesomeness of the results. Finally, they could prove marketing was driving sales.

I want this meeting to happen for all clients. But again, it took a lot of work to get to that point. There was a lot of planning and agreement on goals, defining and documenting strategies we could use to measure against those goals and many “hands on deck” from both the client and the agency to connect data sources and automate the dashboards for more streamlined monthly reviews.

And while I love sharing this success story, I have to be honest and say that a good majority of our clients are a long way from sharing this level of success.  Specifically:

  • Many struggle to commit to measureable objectives. They can use words to describe their goals, but they are reluctant to commit to a numeric business metric.
  • Some don’t know what measures are important to their leadership or stakeholders. In other words, they know what they need to know, but they haven’t asked others if they agree with them.
  • Others don’t have approval to access or use data in meaningful ways, as many organizations have legal concerns about sharing data across the enterprise or with vendor partners.

The list could go on.

If you struggle with these data obstacles (or something similar) and haven’t figured out a way to work through them, chances are you’re falling behind your competitors. The marketers that can access data, turn it into insights and budget marketing dollars to make improvements will far and away win the race.

I plan to write more on this topic in the coming months. Be on the lookout for an upcoming article outlining the three things you need to consider before you get started. Or just call me, I always love to talk data. Especially if you feel this pain…let’s commiserate together.


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