Data Driven: Making Sense of It All
External references, industry standards and benchmarks can help provide a comparison and context for your data. However, be aware of making an apples to tangerines comparison when apples to apples are in order.
Keep in mind, data derived from small universes or a relatively short period of time have inherent value issues. Also, beware of averages. While an average plays a role, it can also greatly misinform. If you are looking at an average, make sure you fully understand the underlying range of numbers that it came from.
Step 4: Effectively Communicate Your Findings
Data, and the analysis of data, has little use if it is not properly translated and communicated. And as a marketer, your role is to know in advance what you want to accomplish and ultimately communicate. Data should be used to help tell a story, inform an audience and support findings or recommendations.
Never present data without some explanation. Clearly highlight or identify some of the most relevant and interesting data points and key findings. Cite sources, formulas and other critical information inherent with the presentation of data through charts, graphs or tables.
Visuals can be very effective in presenting relationships, patterns or trends between data points. In order to avoid misleading data communication, draw visuals to scale. Also avoid one simple data presentation misstep (or trick, depending on your perspective) by starting or scaling your chart from the value of 0 (zero) when showing an x-axis and/or y-axis relationship.
And finally, be aware of data and analysis bias. Bias or prejudice (intended or unintended) is possible in most data and analytics. It can come from a bias in a system or a process. It can come from a bias in human or constituent agendas (overt or hidden), or simply from a bias in the numbers themselves. The key is in understanding and acknowledging bias and, where possible, minimize its influence on your ability to achieve or support your ultimate purpose: to describe, predict and/or decide.