Not All Marketing Data Is Created Equal

The following was previously published in an earlier edition of Marketing Insider.

Brand strength is often treated with an air of mysticism, with consumers and business professionals declaring a brand strong or weak in a “you-just-know-it-when-you-see-it” fashion. But the reality is that brand strength boils down to how much the brand’s messaging resonates with audiences. This not only can but must be measured as an indicator of a company’s health. Here’s how:

Train your team to embrace, not fear, the spreadsheets. There are two common pitfalls. The first is that metrics are often tied to team performance and the KPIs each team is responsible for tracking and improving. Therein lies the temptation to lean on vanity metrics that prop up performance or report data in a perfunctory fashion. The second, more challenging, obstacle is that data can be incredibly intimidating for employees who aren’t trained to digest and analyze it.



One example to learn from is The New York Times’ open source data training program. It was developed for beat reporters and editors to become comfortable at building and reviewing data sets to strengthen their stories. While there are certainly data analysts and data journalists who live and breathe data to create compelling infographics, the media company saw the clear benefit for all team members to take part in the broader data-driven culture.

Analyze your data to build better experiences. Making the most out of measurement boils down to constantly challenging the things you take for granted. If you’re simply crunching numbers, you’re casting aside a wonderful opportunity to ask meaningful questions of yourself that could translate into greater successes with your audiences over the long-term. 

For instance, Spotify digs well beyond standard metrics and analyses. The company has actually coded its catalog with musical traits like danceability to understand how and when people listen by traits, hence why they can proactively serve up the right song for your "family dance-off in the kitchen" playlist.

When we know what we aimed to achieve, we can ensure our brand initiatives are unique, authentic, and resonant. When you’re approaching measurement, consider three questions:

  • What will people within the company be able to do or understand as a result of knowing this information?
  • What are the insights that are the most relevant to help them in their roles?
  • Have these insights been investigated on whether they’re a trend or an anomaly? 

Notice what surprises you. Analytics and content teams tend to look at their best-performing or most-replicable work. This inclination is human: If you know the secrets behind your greatest hits, you can replicate them, again and again. However, if you only pay attention to the most popular content, you can end up trying to identify an elusive formula for creativity rather than understanding the broader context of your audience’s needs. By looking beyond the original question you sought to answer, and getting curious about new ones, you might discover far more than you intend to. 

 So while not all data is created equal, finding the right data points makes all the difference.

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