“And the Data says…” So what?

Oliver Rees

Oliver is the founder and CEO, Torque Data. He is a leader in helping marketers gather and understand data-driven insights and use them to develop and deliver effective marketing programs. Oliver has been working with major brands and agencies across the UK and Asia Pacific since before big data became a buzzword, and founded Torque Data in 2001 to revolutionise the approach to data-driven marketing, sales and customer management. Torque’s Momentum was the first Marketing Data Analytics as a Service Platform is backed by a multi-lingual team of data scientists, strategists and campaign managers.

'So what?'

The question is asked thousands of times in playgrounds and pubs all over the world, but not nearly enough in boardrooms, particularly in the brave new world of data and marketing analytics.

Usually when my daughter sneerily asks 'so what?' she really means 'shut up' or 'you’re not the boss of me'. But I like to imagine she could mean: 'Wow, that could be interesting but I need more context” or “tell me more so I can decide if I actually care'.

An old boss of mine used to cut people down in meetings with a quip: 'Hmmm…that’s interesting, but irrelevant'. The celebrity data scientist of the day, Nate Silver, expresses the same point as signal, not noise.

In any given moment we are all pushed for time, anxious about the next deadline, self-opinionated, relaxed, listening in an attentive manner, tired and emotional, bored, under the weather, feeling on top of the world, attention span challenged or itching to get back to our latest app or social network. What all those expressions really mean are ‘get to the damn point’.

In the world of big data, ‘so what’ is more than a snarky comment, it becomes life’s driving force. What does this mean, and what can I do with it to be more effective and get more out of my precious marketing resources?

Too often data is presented as meaningless numbers on a page, or beautifully designed visualisations that you actually can’t do anything with. And more often than not, the analytics are an exercise in hindsight, reporting on what has gone before. Knowing where you’ve come from, and where you are, is really important. But it doesn’t in itself tell you where you’re going.

In our experience there are a number of things that have provided the highest ‘so what’ factor to date:

  • Single customer view: Often 80 per cent of profit comes from 20 per cent of customers. Which ones are they?
  • Value retention: How do you retain those high value customers?
  • Lookalikes: How do you grow that value segment - who else displays similar characteristics? And what can be done to bring them up?
  • Eye on the future: How do you model and predict the future? What variables most impact the key metrics of the business?

By focusing on the factors that truly matter to the business, and the data that affects them, it becomes a much more interesting conversation. When you can show people how to actually increase profit, no one will say ‘so what’?

Tags: big data, data analytics, data-driven marketing

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