More and more companies are seeing the value of leveraging data-driven insights to guide decision making. Whether day-to-day operational details or big-picture strategic initiatives, confidence rises when you have statistical evidence to support action. While this is great news for data enthusiasts like us, it’s important to consider a common pitfall when bringing data analytics in the world of business; there is such a thing as too much data.
Pretty much everything that happens in the modern world is producing data. According to a report by DOMO, “90% of all data today was created in the last two years – that’s 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day.” This begs the question, how much of this information is useful? Furthermore, how much of it is actually being used?
Now imagine the internet is your business and the online users producing that ridiculous amount of data are your customers. It’s clear that adding MORE data to what you already have isn’t going to help with decision making. In fact, it’s only going to further complicate things. The best approach is to hit the pause button and explore the wealth of information that already exists before adding more to the vault.
While the internet is an extreme example, the fact is that businesses small and large are falling into the trap of collecting more data when the answer might be found by accessing what they already have.
This is by no means suggesting you stop collecting data altogether. Rather it’s a recommendation based on over 30 years of experience that it’s a good idea to finish what’s on your plate before going up for seconds.
Here are some of ways digging into your existing data can offer immediate value and put your company in a position to leverage new data as it arrives moving forward.
Highlight Industry Trends
Regardless of your company size, position or industry, it’s important to understand the surrounding market environment and competitive landscape. From new technology and emerging disruptors to societal shifts and generational consumer preferences; having a clear snapshot of your overall market as it exists today will provide the foundation needed to move forward with confidence.
You may be asking yourself, “How am I supposed to understand external influences when all I have is internal data and information related to my company?” This is a great question and there’s a simple answer; secondary research. There’s a wealth of information that is currently accessible online, it’s just a matter of strategically and methodically pulling the data most relevant to your industry.
Build Customer Profiles
This is one of the most fun and productive ways to make use of your existing data. Start by organizing your existing data files so you know what you have – which is a valuable step in itself and should be a regular practice to maintain your company’s overall data health.
Once you’ve organized your data inventory you can identify and analyze key metrics that make each of your target consumer groups unique. Whether purchase patterns, satisfaction scores or findings from previous research projects, highlighting what you currently know about your customers as individuals (based on the data you already have) will immediately provide opportunity to strengthen customer-brand relationships. Furthermore, by outlining what you already know about your customers you will establish what you don’t know about them; which can guide future research or data collection efforts.
One of the great benefits of digging into your current data inventory is uncovering valuable insights by cross-analyzing multiple data sources. For example, imagine your company is looking to develop new – or evolving existing – products and services. Investing in product development always carries risk, so taking a strategic approach to guide decision making will improve likelihood of success.
Starting with sales data can identify underperforming items that warrant consideration for improvement, but this only covers one aspect of the development process. By including market trends and reviewing your customer profiles, both pulled from existing data, these collective insights will ensure development efforts are aligned with current demands.
Assess Marketing Effectiveness
The ever-growing list of communication channels provides great opportunities for marketing teams to reach customers, but it also complicates the matter of when and how to determine the most effective marketing methods. Visibility is a common metric for assessing marketing success, where social media views, impressions, or website visits are indicative of strong campaign strategies. However, this doesn’t tell the entire story because if marketing isn’t leading to conversions then it may be time to revisit and restructure your approach.
Obviously it’s important that your outbound marketing efforts are received by target customers, so visibility metrics are needed for this purpose. But don’t stop there. Compare your marketing campaign timelines with your sales data to see if any particular campaign is aligned with periods of growth. Furthermore, if a marketing campaign is underperforming, you’re able to reference the customer profiles and see if there’s any opportunity to adjust the brand message or distribution channels.
Form an Overall Research Strategy
By organizing, analyzing and applying insights from the data you currently have, your company will maximize return on past investments. These processes will solidify the foundation on which you currently stand and offer guidance on how best to move forward. But even at this point there’s further opportunity to extract value from existing data. Considering what you currently know about your industry and customers, you can identify gaps that need to be filled and highlight the bits of information you’d still like to find out.
Listing and prioritizing the data points currently missing from your inventory will enable your company to launch impactful follow up research projects today or budget for initiatives in the future. An overall research strategy should be part of any cohesive business plan, and this step of digging into the data that already exists will ensure ongoing decisions and investments have the highest probability of success.
As you can see, there’s plenty to be done with the data you currently have. It’s easy to want to collect more and more data in an effort to stay up-to-date on current trends or performance metrics. However this is often a counterproductive approach, since it produces an overwhelming amount of information without adding value. Digging into your existing bank of data will answer a lot of the questions you have today, it will support informed decision making moving forward, and it will act as a foundation for long-term research efforts.
Over the past 30+ years we’ve been saving our clients time, energy and other valuable resources by getting the most use out of what they already have. If you’re interested in converting your unused data into golden insights, we’re ready to lead the way. Give us a shout and let’s get the conversation started!