Analytics dirty little secret – more data isn’t the answer



If you believed the hype from those who want to sell web analytics, the proliferation of digital data means that anytime soon, brands will be selling you things before you’ve even had the initial thought that you need the product/service/offer (delete as appropriate). If we need to sell stuff, data is obviously the answer! The more data the better! With data, all things become obvious! But the truth is somewhat different because, sadly, the hype has got somewhat ahead of reality.
A few weeks ago, we published an ebook which outlines some of the challenges modern marketers face in deriving insight from the deluge of customer data available, as well as suggesting some solutions.
One of the challenges we explore in the book is the issue of data sources being compromised by the functional bias of analytics engines. How so? Well, most analytical engines themselves have an intrinsic bias – for example toward website behaviour or CRM reporting. And the result of this bias? The inability to give a truly holistic, rounded view of the customer. Something that is essential if you really want to engage at a level the customer demands and will respond to.
But more problematic than this is that, while analytics are great for reporting and identifying trends, more often than not they come up short in terms of insight. And here’s the rub; what marketers actually need is insight, not data. Sadly, data most certainly does not equal insight.
This is not a new phenomenon. Indeed, respected commentators have been making this point for some time –  for instance, this article from Danny Brown, and here on Marketing Profs.
But the proverbial penny still hasn’t dropped; in the race to be ever smarter and more innovative there are still those who believe size matters – more data must be better right? Wrong. Let me press the point; data is nothing if it doesn’t deliver insight. Insight that helps you really create a clear, single view of your customer. Insight that helps you engage. Anything else is just noise and distraction. And a waste of your marketing dollars. So demand more from your data. Demand insight.
If you’re interested in reading more about our views on this, be sure to take a look at our eBook!
This post was written by Andy Walker.

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