The rise of data-driven decision making is certainly an advancement in the email marketing industry, but this inundation of information isn’t foolproof and can sometimes leads brands astray. Whether you’re a decision maker that always follows instincts, or one that only relies on data to inform decisions, it’s crucial to understand the limitations of data so you can find the middle ground.
So how does your brand avoid being led astray by data? First, let’s look at three common ways information can let you down:
Data can rapidly change. Gathering data can sometimes be time-consuming and costly, so brands would hope that data can stand the test of time to be utilized and re-purposed. Unfortunately, many things simply change with time, often quickly, and what was once true might not be months later. Our ever-evolving world requires that our conclusions be re-evaluated over time, so keeping your data up-to-date can be both challenging and highly rewarding.
Data isn’t always clear about the past. Marketers often rely on performance data from the recent past as an indicator for future performance. It’s reasonable to use past experiences or periods of time as a baseline indicator. However, data isn’t always transparent about all variables that could potentially skew current results based on the base period. Consider how promotions or price changes might cause anomalies in data that aren’t explicitly known. It’s important to closely examine data to understand the whole picture before you use it to inform upcoming decisions or goals.
Data can come from untrustworthy sources. Whether it’s intentional or accidental, data can just be bad sometimes. Without you knowing, it’s possible that technical failure, human error, bad protocols, and falsification can spoil your data. Ensure the data you are receiving is reliable by thoroughly vetting vendors, or if you’re collecting it internally, make sure the standards of your study are clear, easy to follow, and easy to replicate.
Despite everything that can go wrong, data should be one of the main drivers of your brand practices. But understanding its nuances is key to ensuring it doesn’t lead your next campaign astray. Instead of making decisions based purely on data input or instinct, find a balance between the two to optimize your results.