Data-driven campaigns: is your business making any of these fatal mistakes?

Are your digital campaigns truly data-led? Or are they kind-of-data-led with very little consultation of the numbers going on below the surface? (It’s ok, I won’t tell.)

In this digital era, the speed and variety of data accessible to businesses can feel more than a little overwhelming. Impressions! Engagement! Relevancy! There’s just so much to measure, it can be tricky to make sure you’re tracking the right things, without spending your whole life analysing numbers.

We all know using data to decide strategy & drive campaigns is a no-brainer. So why then do so many companies leave vast amounts of data untouched, sometimes with hugely impactful insights trapped inside?

Are You Guilty of One of These Mistakes?

In our experience, even the savviest of businesses can fall into these common traps. Keep your antenna on alert for these pitfalls and make sure your team stays on the path to data success.

Mistake #1: Focusing on Vanity Metrics

Does it matter if a campaign gets 5,000 new Facebook followers if none of them convert to paying customers? Using data won’t help if you’re paying attention to the wrong things – avoid the temptation to focus on metrics that sound great but deliver no real return on your investment of time and funds.

To avoid this, always start your campaign by setting a clear outcome. What’s the ultimate business goal? What objective does your campaign need to achieve to help get you there? Only when you have these clearly defined can you establish the measures that will actually help that happen.

Fix: Set clear outcomes, objectives and measures from the get-go. Don’t focus on the fluff.

Mistake #2: Your Data is Collecting Dust

Maintaining the appearance of being data-driven by having a dashboard full of numbers that do very little to impact actual decisions is not the same as being actually data-driven. (Yet it’s frighteningly common!) Your data should be driving real business conversations and decisions. If you find that you’re collecting a lot of data but not having conversations about it or finding it particularly useful, it’s time to make some changes.

Fix: Transform numbers into insights that you’ll actually use. Look at using data storytelling to help understand and communicate your data more effectively.

Mistake #3: Waiting Till a Campaign Is Over Before Acting

Don’t wait for the end of a campaign to view the results. Checking certain key metrics like site visits should be habitual and as commonplace as checking your phone. Be agile: the beauty of online campaigns is that you can optimize performance at any point. Something’s not working? Fix it. Something’s working well? Direct more budget there.

Fix: Data is your friend. Consult it often and optimize, optimize, optimize.

Hubspot has a handy guide explaining when to check on your marketing metrics.

Mistake #4: Talking Jibberish

Your data team is on fire. They know their comparative impressions and click-through rates like the back of their hands. The trouble is, the rest of the business likely don’t. If you’re relying on very data-savvy folk to communicate useful insights to other teams or customers you might find the message is being lost in translation. Left brain & right brain personalities often communicate in very different ways and this can lead to a frustrating misalignment between what the data is revealing and the resulting action that’s taken. I recently read "According to Gartner, only 32% of an enterprise workforce on average can comprehend a dashboard or the visualization with the right meaning that the analyst wanted to convey."

Fix: Make sure insights are being communicated simply and clearly between all parts of your organization. Watch out for internal language or overly techy terminology that can cause confusion.

Mistake #5: Losing Sight Of The Big Picture

Data has immense power to drive change, but only if you stay focused on the business outcome. Many organisations collect huge amounts of data and then display it in crowded dashboards that are more likely to confuse users rather than help them make great decisions.

Don’t send your teams down a data rabbit-hole – keep their attention on the key metrics that really matter. Otherwise, it's easy to focus on small trends that deliver little value and distract from the big picture.

Fix: Don’t get sucked into macro trends. Know the metrics that matter.

Mistake #6: Letting Your Data Run You

With so much to measure it can be easy for organizations to get overwhelmed with data. If tracking and analysing data is taking up too much of your time, (or sends you into a blind panic at the thought of it) your tech might need an upgrade: look for tools that use AI to automate this part of the job. There’s little point spending hours each week collecting data, analysing it and building reports when there are tools that can do this almost instantaneously. Increase the value you receive from your data while reducing the time spend your team spends processing it.

Fix: Let the bots do the legwork. Explore the best AI tech solution for your business.

Mistake #7: Relying on Old-School Segmentation

If you’re still relying on old-school segmentation, your business is missing a trick. With much richer data now available, there’s no need to oversimplify campaign segments by targeting based merely on age or gender. Richer data provides a great opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of your audience and then target them more creatively and precisely. This will benefit both your metrics and your brand – targeting in this way can be far less obtrusive because it enables you to identify and engage with your most interested potential customers – and to avoid wasting ad spend where it won’t get a return.

There’s a reason programmatic ad formats are increasing in popularity, they offer much more effective targeting than more traditional formats. Through honing in on the responsive target audience and finding similarities they are able to search out other people with those winning attributes. Surely all your campaigns should be this focussed?

Fix: Go beyond basic segmentation. Get to know your real customer and find more natural ways to reach them.

Mistake #8: Being blinkered to surprising insights.

Don’t dismiss a surprising insight as being an irrelevance. Growth opportunities may fall outside of your core market so sometimes the most useful insights are the ones that seem a little left-field. If something in your data doesn’t quite fit, it’s worth investigating.

Fix: Stay open to new ideas and explore out of the norm results when they appear.

Clever Tech can be transformational.

When used effectively, data is your most powerful asset. If you’re reading this, you’re likely a human so will need a little help processing your data to turn it into the most useful insights. The good news? With advancing technology, data solutions are getting ever more sophisticated. Where you once had a choice between a Dashboard or a Spreadsheet you now have an array of next-generation options that will take the burden away from the human team and extract infinitely more value from your data.

Spreadsheets still have their uses and dashboards aren’t all bad. They do a good job of framing information and if you know what you’re looking for they can certainly help a savvy team stay on top of their KPIs. Dashboards do have some rather frustrating limitations though and miss some of the key ingredients that make data work harder for your business. They lack narrative, leaving the user to figure out the story of what’s going on. They can often be confusing, cluttered with graphs and charts showing all kinds of data that can sidetrack a less-than-confident user. The biggest downfall to me is the fact that data is stuck in the dashboard and needs manual work again to make it useable in a presentation or report.

In my opinion, the best solutions are the ones that can be understood by the whole team. AI is clever enough now that it can locate the most relevant insights and arrange them in a way that tells the story of what's going on without sounding like a demonic robot with a calculator. You shouldn’t need a degree in analytics to understand your campaign performance.

Darren Jacobs is director of client development at Nugit.

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