Get Over the Vanity: How to Truly Maximize Big Data
As marketers, we're driven by data. Obsessed with it. Slaves to it, even. We crave numbers to validate our efforts and prove that our tactics work to drive leads and sales. And when the metrics don't work in our favor, we change tactics to get the numbers we desire.
In our quest to quantify success, many of us quickly become enamored with the promise of big data and its theoretical ability to deliver monumental insights. If some data is good, more is better, right? Except it isn't. Making sense of the deluge of data is incredibly complex, time-consuming and exhausting. By the time we find the real juicy nuggets we seek, it's too late! The audience has long moved on and we've missed our chance to strike while the iron is hot.
The problem is that most conventional big data analytics are still nothing more than vanity metrics — i.e., numbers that make us feel good, but offer no clear, actionable insight on what we can or should do with this information. The concept of "vanity metrics" has been around for years, but with every evolution in analytics we end up reinventing metrics that sound good but don't reveal much.
For example, everyone knows that using site visits as a measure of success tells us nothing about real business performance. Sure a new campaign may drive massive traffic, but are those visitors actively engaging with the site and its content? Or are they simply quick hits — i.e., visitors who stop by but quickly move on or, worse yet, the result of visitor churn because we're losing as many as we gain? Clearly, neither are desired, nor will these drive growth.
Get real: Look beyond the vanity
The question is no longer about how many users, but instead about their level of engagement, which is the real key to fostering loyalty and higher lifetime customer value. To get there, we must dig deeper into the data to uncover insights that can truly guide business decisions beyond the vanity of big data. But how?