​How to rekindle your love of data

Data evangelist Christian Howes explains how to why simple, targeted and human insights make data more relevant to business decisions

In a data-saturated era, the pressure is on marketers to find simpler ways to keep analytics targeted and relevant.

Too often, marketers become overwhelmed by big data and forget to see the bigger picture, broadcaster, social media commentator and TV presenter, Christian Howes, claimed.

Speaking at ONE: Teradata Marketing Connect conference in Sydney, Howes stressed data can’t be ‘wrong’, but without intuition and creativity, it’s never going to be as useful or powerful as it should be.

“We are surrounded in our day-to-day lives by a ton of data, but the question is what do we do to make the best of it, and how do we use that in our everyday goings on,” he said.

Here, Howes shares how best to use data to advantage.

Keep it targeted

A lesson learnt from his years providing data analytics insights, as well as social media data and discussions on TV shows such as Big Brother, BT Sport, This Morning Summer and EuroMillions, was the power of social media data from Facebook.

According to Howes, Facebook is the biggest and the best targeting platform available at the moment, that can provide real, accurate insights into consumer behaviour. He stressed when you start to target the data that is specifically relevant to your business, it becomes incredibly useful.

“It gives us a very targeted view, with very useful user information that is relevant to your business,” he said. “As a result, you can really tailor ad campaigns just from effectively analysing social media data.”

Context is king

While the trend is now to say content is king, Howes believes that when it comes to data, context is king.

“It’s about taking content, putting it into context and applying it to transactional data,” he said. “This can really supercharge your marketing.”

In his extensive career as a data analyst, Howes recalled how it took a while for him to be taken seriously, and that he had to keep trying to prove that analysing data could really improve businesses.

“It’s about telling your audience a story in the way they will understand,” he said. “But in order to do that, you need to understand what is happening around you, how they are relevant to your business and the impact they have to your business.”

Data is a map, not a territory

Howes equated data to a map, where you journey along roads in order to find key destination points. He suggested that if you can visualise the relationships of your data in a simple way, it can make understanding how things work a lot easier.

“You have to view data as a map, not a territory; it is about getting from A to B and joining the dots up,” he explained. “You need to find new and innovative ways to tackle your data, you can’t just repeat the same processes again and again, hoping for a different response.”

Howes also warned against wasting too much time analysing stuff that has nothing to do with your business.

“I see a lot of the time people struggling to view their data map to try and see what is relevant,” he said. “The secret is to apply human intelligence and insights to the data that you collect about your customer. Layering these insights on top of your data makes your business smarter and allows your processes to happen more quickly and effectively.”

Keep it simple

When we’re faced with the advances in data technology, often we jump to trying to understand advanced analytics before taking time to understand the basics, Howes said.

“In my career, I’ve been most successful when I’ve made things simple,” he said. “It’s about the audience you are talking to, the empathy and the empathy.

“There are so many enterprise tools out there – and with cloud-based technology, it is sometimes just easier to let the software pick up the weight.”

It’s trial and error

According to Howes, a lot of data analytics is trial and error and is about the thrill of ‘cracking the code.’

“You have to be testing, you have to have the ability and courage to follow your convictions and not give up,” he said. “If you’re trying to figure out the correlation of different data points, you’ve got to give it a go. It’s about theorising, testing and putting it into action.”

But without intuition and creativity, data won’t be as powerful as it should be, Howes said.

“Because you still need that intuition, that creativity and that human touch in order to make sense of it,” he added. “It’s about how you interpret it and you’re your story and then how you can leverage that information to make the best decisions for your business.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

In a data-saturated era, the pressure is on marketers to find simpler ways to keep analytics targeted and relevant.

Too often, marketers become overwhelmed by big data and forget to see the bigger picture, broadcaster, social media commentator and TV presenter, Christian Howes, claimed.

Speaking at ONE: Teradata Marketing Connect conference in Sydney, Howes stressed data can’t be ‘wrong’, but without intuition and creativity, it’s never going to be as useful or powerful as it should be.

“We are surrounded in our day-to-day lives by a ton of data, but the question is what do we do to make the best of it, and how do we use that in our every day goings on,” he said.

Keep it targeted

A lesson learnt from his years providing data analytics insights, as well as social media data and discussions on TV shows such as Big Brother, BT Sport, This Morning Summer and EuroMillions, was the power of social media data from the likes of Facebook.

According to Howes, Facebook is the biggest and the best targeting platform there is available at the moment, that can provide real, accurate insights into consumer behaviour. He stressed when you start to target the data that is specifically relevant to your business , it becomes incredibly useful.

“It gives us a very targeted view, with very useful user information that is relevant to your business,” he explained. “As a result, you can really tailor ad campaigns just from effectively analysing social media data.”

Context is king

Howes stressed that while the trend is now to say content is king, he believes when it comes to data, context is king.

“It’s about taking content, putting it into context and applying it to transactional data,” he said. “This can really supercharge your marketing.”

In his extensive career as a data analyst, Howes recalled how he kept trying to prove that analysing data could really improve businesses and it took a while for him to be taken seriously.

“It’s about trying to tell your audience a story in the way they will understand,” he said. “But in order to do that, you need to understand what is happening around you, how they are relevant to your business and the impact they have to your business.”

Data is a map, not a territory

Howes equated data to a map, where you journey through the roads in order to find you’re the key destination points. He suggested that if you can visualise the relationships of your data in a simple way, it can make understanding how things work a lot easier.

“You have to view data as a map, not a territory, it is about getting from A to B, and joining the dots up,” he explained. “You need to find new and innovative ways to tackle your data, you can’t just repeat the same processes again and again, hoping for a different response.”

He warned against wasting too much time analysing stuff that has nothing to do with your business.

“I see a lot of the time people struggling to view their data map to try and see what is relevant,” he said. “But the secret is to apply human intelligence and insights to the data that you collect about your customer. Layering these insights on top of your data makes your business smarter and allows your processes to happen more quickly and effectively.”

Keep it simple

Howes highlighted that when we’re faced with the advances in data technology, often we jump to trying to understand advanced analytics before taking time to understand the basics.

“In my career, I’ve been most successful when I’ve made things simple,” he said. “It’s about the audience you are talking to, the empathy and the empathy.

“There are so many enterprise tools out there – and with cloud-based technology, it is sometimes just easier to let the software pick up the weight.”

Tenacity, trial and error

According to Howes, a lot of data analytics is trial and error and is about the thrill of ‘cracking the code.’

“You have to be testing, you have to have the ability and courage to follow your convictions and not give up,” he said. “If you’re trying to figure out how the correlation of different data points are happening, you’ve got to give it a go. It’s about theorising, testing and putting it into action.

Moving forward, he said data is not the be all and end all, because without intuition and creativity, it is not as powerful as it should be.

“Because you still need that intuition, that creativity and that human touch in order to make sense of it,” he added. “It’s about how you interpret it and you’re your story and then how you can leverage that information to make the best decisions for your business.”


Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

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