Data is your window into your customer’s thought process and buying decisions. It allows you to segment your customers into niche groups, so that each group receives the communications most relevant for them. It opens a marketer’s eyes to new creative solutions, awakens them to customers ready to churn, and reveals customers’ purchasing habits. But with all the benefits data provides, it’s also possible to be “too data-driven” — where you neglect all your creative potential and work only based off of hard numbers and figures. Falling into a data sinkhole has the following disadvantages:
Beware of corrupt data
If you have any form of data warehouse, studies say about 30% of it is inaccurate or duplicated. But what does the 30% of data actually mean for your company? While 30% represents a very small amount of data for some companies, for other businesses, that’s hundreds or even thousands of false records misguiding their decision-making process, which could add up to millions of dollars in losses. The Data Warehousing Institute reports that poor data costs American businesses up to 600 billion dollars a year. Let’s say your data tells you 70% of your leads come from the agriculture industry. You take that at face value and it gives you a sense of direction and fulfilment — until you find that 50% of those leads are duped because they’ve been registered twice and tagged as leads. When you’re operating based on misinformation, your time and resources go to waste.
Don’t neglect your POV
Blinding yourself to everything except data can impair creativity, quality instincts, and personal point of view that would drive tangible results. Let’s say you sell cosmetics and had a light-bulb moment where you realized partnering with a local salon would increase sales. But an instinct to pass on the opportunity due to lack of data proven causes you to miss out on something that could have driven growth for your business. You thought since there’s no data to prove that partnering with that local beauty store will increase your revenue, it’s not worth it. But the truth is, you don’t always need numbers (data) to see the effectiveness of certain strategies. Sometimes you just have to let creativity have its way over your business.
Coca Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign is a great example here.
The brand’s multi-national marketing campaign replaced “Coca-Cola” on one side of a bottle with the message “Share a Coke with” and featured someone’s name. Did Coca-Cola use any data to see if the campaign was going to be successful? Nope. Marketing Director Lucie Austin at Coca Cola said, “The campaign capitalized on the global trend of self-expression and sharing, but in an emotional way. Coke is big enough to pull off an idea like this, which speaks to the iconic nature of the brand. Who would want their name on a brand unless it was as iconic as Coke?” Coca-Cola sold more than 250 million bottles in Australia, a country of just less than 23 million people. And there was no data to prove this idea would’ve worked. According to Austin, the campaign was launched on the assumption that we now live in a world where people are naturally more expressive, and that most people will love to have their name on a classic brand like Coke. It was all raw instinct and creativity. Chances are high that if the company led solely on data, they might have passed on this culturally significant campaign.
Unnecessarily slow decision processes kill results
Every boss wants to see the data behind your decisions and ideas. And rightly so. But when marketers are required to provide data for every single idea, their focus becomes more on numbers, less on ideation. Not every decision needs mounds of data behind it. Sometimes the best ideas originate from instinct. Robert Glazer — founder at Acceleration Partners — put it this way: “Because senior executives are addicted to the numbers and have become dependent on analytics, marketers rely on data to tell them what works and have stopped thinking about why consumers engage. This approach fails to understand what truly motivates customers and diminishes the brand’s identity.” It’s often protocol for bosses to request data before signing off on campaigns. But it’s also important to know when to put the numbers aside and run ideas based on basic personal-POV or creativity.
Let’s draw the curtains here
It’s important for marketers to understand that relying too heavily on data can sometimes mean letting go of creativity — which is vital for tapping into the emotions of our target customers. Of course, data is essential for learning about your customers, but a balance of the two — data and creativity — will give your campaigns new life and inspire the kind of thinking that could lead to massive success.