5 Obstacles to Successful Data Management in Your Marketing Campaign
Marketing campaigns run on information. The goal is to create messaging that reaches and influences a target audience, but if you don’t know who your audience is, how they’re consuming media, or what could influence them, you can’t do your job effectively. “Data,” the big, ambiguous word referring to meaningful information you can collect on the world, is becoming bigger and more important to marketing campaigns as our collection and interpretation tools evolve. But simply having access to more data isn’t enough to guarantee success.
The Modern World of Data
Big data is a bit of a buzzword, but in the general sense, it refers to complex, detailed sets of data about given subjects. In the marketing world, big data might refer to the hundreds of demographic, behavioral, and historical bits of information about your target customers (and web visitors), which you could theoretically use to predict or influence future interactions. To the modern marketer, this isn’t a pipe dream—there are dozens of tools out there to help you find and analyze this information. But this information alone can’t help you improve the effectiveness of your strategies.
The Biggest Obstacles to Success
Assuming you have a plan to gather and make use of data in your marketing campaign, these are some of the biggest obstacles you’ll have to address to be effective:
1. Gathering accurate data
Your first barrier to success is gathering accurate data in the first place. Most modern systems are good about tracking data reliably, and ensuring that data isn’t corrupted from the time it’s gathered to the time it’s presented, but that doesn’t mean your data isn’t skewed in some way. For example, a basic Google Analytics script will track all the traffic that goes to your site, but unless you set up a specific filter, it will also track all your employees, who could skew your data with internal traffic.
2. Asking the right questions
Data doesn’t generate conclusions on your behalf—you have to use the data to form your own conclusions. That starts with asking questions, and you have to know which questions to ask (and how to ask them) if you want to gather the right conclusions. Your questions should be specific, relevant to your campaign, and directed toward some kind of meaningful takeaway. They should also be tailored to be as neutral and objective as possible, though this is a challenge for the naturally biased human mind.
3. Managing your data correctly
It’s not enough to merely gather data; you have to store it and manage it properly. This means simultaneously finding a way to keep all your information recorded (and backing it up to avoid permanent loss) and protecting it from infiltrators who might benefit from stealing this information. Your first obstacle is finding a reasonable and reliable storage system; there are many cloud-based options for this, but you may also wish to set up a server with associated backups. Your second obstacle here is enacting security protocols to protect that data from would-be hackers.
4. Forming accurate impressions
It’s easy for your preconceived notions and pattern recognition skills to warp the accuracy of how you perceive your data. For example, if you believe your latest content marketing strategy has been positively influencing your results, you’ll start looking at your data set trying to find areas where this assumption is true. You may hunt for specific blips and patterns that make your campaign seem more effective than it truly is. Similarly, when browsing through the nearly infinite series of data you have access to, you may start to see patterns that don’t reflect reality, or leave you with impressions that aren’t exactly true about your target audience.
5. Forming actionable conclusions
It’s not enough to look at your data and identify a handful of patterns; if you want your data analysis process to mean anything, it has to have the capacity to change That means you need to generate actionable conclusions, ones that lead you to modify existing elements of your campaign or add new ones to be more successful.
The Bottom Line
Data is an objective collection of information, and if used appropriately, it can tell you almost everything you need to know to run a successful campaign. However, it’s not a magic formula, and it can be misinterpreted. No matter how objective or thorough your data is, it’s still filtered by a subjective, fallible human lens—your own perceptions, biases, and mistakes will affect the conclusions you draw.
Accordingly, you must be careful how you collect and treat your data, or your campaign won’t improve, no matter how much raw information you gather.