The Danger of Ignoring Data

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Depending on your point of view, we’ve had a pretty bad week here in Britain. First, my country voted to leave the European Union, and then to top it off England were humiliated at Euro 2016 by Iceland (which has a population of 323,000 – about 0.5% of the UK).

How, I hear you ask, is that relevant to us in the marketing industry? In my opinion, an important part of both debacles is the lack of the use of data.

In the EU referendum campaign, Michael Gove, a prominent member of the Leave side of the debate stated that the British people were fed up with hearing from “experts”. What he was referring to was the studies conducted by heavyweight (and politically neutral) institutions like the IMF on the impact of Brexit on the UK economy. Largely these came out with the view that leaving the EU would damage the economy in the years ahead.

In fact, nearly all of the facts in the debate pointed to Britain leaving the EU as being a really bad idea economically, and that there wasn’t a full plan for what would happen if we left. However, the British people voted against the facts and the data, and went with their gut to leave by a majority 51.9%.

Emotion, opinion, and unfortunately prejudice (in some, not all, cases) won the day. Data was seen as an unimportant part of this huge decision for the future of our country. And to me, that’s the scary part.

In any decision, in business, in politics, or in marketing, it’s essential to use data. Data allows us to look at the past and see what has and hasn’t worked, it allows us to predict the future based on forecasts, and it allows us to understand the world around us. Using opinion alone is flawed as ultimately you’re not using all of the information available, and will always in same way be incorrect.

That’s not to say you can’t make the right decision using just your opinion – but that over time you’ll get more decisions wrong than you would if you study and analyse data.

In modern marketing, it’s essential to use data to understand your audience, inform your strategy, and optimise your efforts. Without doing so, you run the risk of wasting your marketing budget on efforts that are not going to work. If you want to know more about being a data-led marketer, I’ve recently released a book on the subject which you can see more about here.

Give yourself the best chance of succeeding in business by taking your data seriously in all it’s forms. Audience insight, performance data, transactional data and more is all essential to fully understand your efforts and to make improvements. Without leveraging what you have, you could well end up with egg on your face. Much like Britain this week!

This article was written by Ben Harper from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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