The growth of data continues to pose a headache for digital marketers. The range of data sets available is bewildering and contains as many gaps as it does duplication. Growth has brought with it some questionable data gathering techniques.
Poorly scripted survey monkey polls morph from ‘quick and dirty’ research into facts. Google Analytics data is taken as gospel without any effort to remove spam. Data presented at conferences is copied and repurposed without any reference to the source.
It’s terrible that so much data, which informs how we spend a lot of time and money, is poorly gathered and used.
Here are three simple questions to ask to make sure you know you’re working with information you can trust.
It shouldn’t really need saying, but the first step is to ask what data you really have. So many bad decisions are made because people don’t question their data sources. How was it collected? What biases does it have? What can it not tell us?
Let’s be frank, not all data sets are equal. For example, there are opinion polls that seek to genuinely capture public opinion and there are those that are designed to generate headlines. You need to differentiate between the two.
Only when you understand your data can you begin to get information of any value from it.
Once you’ve got to grips with your data, you then need to ask whether it means anything. Why is it relevant to your business and what you’re trying to achieve? If it’s not useful, dump it.
We’ve all seen the slides showing how many tweets are sent in a second or how many users Facebook has. They’re very impressive, but from a campaign planning perspective, they’re completely useless. Only keep the data that is useful.
This is the crucial bit. What can you do with it? Can you repeat the data gathering to provide you with useful information about trends? Has it given you soame insights about your clients that can inform a creative brief? Ultimately, this is the most fun question. Once you have data you understand and is relevant, you can then have fun manipulating, querying and playing with it.
Employing these three simple questions should save you time, money and, crucially, provide you with a better understanding of where your marketing really is.