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It seems that the traditional era of marketing is over. Today’s decision making process is data- and number-­driven. But does data hold all the answers?

It’s all about Data these days. When your iphone tells you how many steps you’ve walked, when Instagram and Facebook suggest friends you should request or when businesses track consumer engagements and interactions. There is an ever-increasing volume of information out there. Welcome to the age of analytics.

In terms of marketing and design, data is playing an increasingly important role and help in the decision making process. Some common tools used to collect data include user surveys, A/B testing, site usage and analytics, consumer research, support logs, and discovery calls. By crafting your products in a way that cater to your users’ goals, preferences, and behaviors, it makes your products far more engaging — and successful.

As part of one of our most recent web-projects, we not only focused on site usage and Google Analytics, but also analysed company figures and trends from previous years and included them in the decision-making process.

data + meaning = information
by Floridi, 2010

Careful, as great as data is, it surely bears its challenges. With the sheer volume of what is out there, Big Data quickly turns into overwhelming Data. Are we expected to collect and absorb all the available information like a vacuum cleaner sucks up cookie crumbs?

It’s not the data itself that is crucial for your or your client’s marketing but choosing the right data and extracting the right insights from it. In the end it comes down to the way you choose to read and interpret it.

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”
by Albert Einstein

In order to select the right data and interpret it correctly, it is important to jointly define the project objectives with the client. If, for example, a customer wants an online shop in addition to his website and physical shop, this is surely a good decision to increase the sales figures and generate a wider customer reach. However, in order to be able to decide how complex this shop is to be set up afterwards and which target group is to be addressed, a certain data basis is required.

The goal of data-driven marketing is “to optimize processes and strategies to cater to changing trends and the unique demands of audiences and consumers by leveraging data to gain deeper insight into what customers want.” (ngdata.com)

But do we really know our client’s motivations, struggles and desires from just a couple of numbers? It’s so easy to get caught up in the weeds of clicks, impressions, conversion and statistics. Ultimately, great marketing is about creativity and storytelling. And the best of all stories revolve around humans. Therefore, as marketing and communication professionals we still need to understand human behavior, emotion and experiences. We still need to make connections, reach out and talk to them (yes, in person).

No matter how valuable the data is you’ve gathered, what really matters is that you are leaving room for human factors in your decision-making. Data answers many questions but doesn’t hold all the answers. It can inform us and help us make better judgements, but at the end of the day, it is just as much about intuition and experience.