Demystifying Data Part 1: An Introduction to the Wonderful World of Data

“Every second of every day, our senses bring in way too much data than we can possibly process in our brains.”

– Peter Diamandis, Chairman/CEO, X-Prize Foundation.

We are lucky enough to live in a world with an influx of data. Even if you aren’t a marketing or public relations professional data is at your fingertips. You can find data about consumer opinions, daily habits, and purchase patterns. In PR and Marketing, if you’re not using data in some way, shape or form you’re doing it wrong. Inform your pitches, strategies, decisions and plans with data. That said, it’s not as easy as just finding a data point and running with it.

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

Albert Einstein, Physicist

If we unpack what Albert Einstein is getting at is that data is important but what is even more important is having the right data. Considerations here are the quality and reputation of the data, and how to analyze it. Beyond that, what to do when people aren’t needed to process and interpret data

When trying to determine which data, you need start by asking yourself, “what is the question I’m trying to answer?” This could be a question you have, your team has or your client has asked you. By understanding your destination, you can start to map out your journey to get there.

For example, I was recently asked “Can we (insert any client name here) cut back our marketing spend and still make money?” This is probably one of the most common question you’ll get at an agency. People want more for less. The knee-jerk response should always be “let me see what the data says and then we can make an informed decision.” A cursory look into this question might involve some basic metrics such as CRM data and Google Analytics. This will tell you some things but not all things. Have you considered doing a deeper dive into your customer base? What are they doing? Is there any cyclicality with their purchase patterns that would allow for safer budget constrictions without losing leads? Initially, you should have more questions than you do answers.

In this series celebrating all things data we’ll walk through where to find useful data, common applications of data in a business setting, what to do once you have the right data and why you should ultimately embrace automation and obsoletion. Trust me, it’s not as scary as it sounds.

Keep in mind that data isn’t only a set of numbers buried in excel spreadsheets and SQL tables. Coming up in Part 2: Data Across the Customer Experience.

Katie Lioy
Director, Marketing Technology


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