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Marketer Evolution: The Discipline of Data-Driven Decision Making

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Conversion experts are unique in the way that we approach decisions.  We find value in being data-driven and we make a concentrated effort to put the data before our own hunches and opinions.

Evolving from traditional marketers to data-driven conversion experts, we’ve also come to understand the importance of not just having the data, but organizing and using it to make decisions.  Data is becoming more available at a very rapid rate, and it’s important to manage it properly so that it can be put to use.

Evolution of Data

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I stumbled upon an article from The New York Times that I wanted to share with you this week, “When There’s No Such Thing As Too Much Information.”

The article cites a study showing companies that “adopted data-driven decision-making achieved productivity that was five to six percent higher than could be explained by other factors, including how much the companies invested in technology.”

I really liked this article because it’s vindication!  It’s not always easy to be data-driven, right?  Sometimes your inner-marketing genius wants to take over or political pressures within your organization may come into play.  Being data-driven means being disciplined, which is sometimes difficult.

We must show discipline in determining what funnels to test, what funnels to test first, what each specific test will be, what goals/learnings to accomplish, etc.  We have to be disciplined from when creating the long-term roadmap on a high level all the way to the tactical implementation of each test on a daily basis.  It’s key to our long term strategy and success.  So, why do we sometimes feel resistance along the way?

At Brooks Bell, we are often faced with the client request to do what we refer as “swing for the fences” tests, which are tests that are complete design overhauls (check out one of my previous blog posts, Successful Testing Strategy: Determining When to Swing for the Fences) so that we can speed up the testing process.  We’ve also received client requests to begin testing one particular funnel or landing page over another due to political reasons.

I bet you’ve received similar requests throughout your organization as well.  I think these two requests are great illustrations of traditional marketing vs. data-driven marketing / conversion expert mentality.  Not everyone has truly embraced (and started sticking to) data-driven decision making yet, so marketers are currently in the throes of figuring it all out.

Before the days of testing (or right now for many companies), marketers would have a web designer create a new page based upon their professional opinion, implement the page and watch their sales react (good or bad).  Don’t like this page, make another one.  This funnel not providing adequate results, change it.  React, react, react.

With testing and data, marketers don’t have to take this reactive approach.  Data is analyzed to determine what funnels are most valuable.  On a page-by-page basis, data shows trends to help identify specific areas that need optimized.  Through test iterations within a campaign, marketers can get the answers they are seeking so that only the best page goes to market on a large scale.  It’s proactive because the data put a bulls eye on where to begin, less risk because traffic is confined to the campaign, less technical implementation because it occurs in the testing tool, higher impact because you are testing where/what matters, and—most importantly—the marketer obtains learnings that can be shared throughout the organization.

I must confess, I was of the traditional marketing mindset and embraced all of those behaviors.  I learned about testing and saw it work (and though it sounds super cliché, I’ll say it), and it was like someone turned on the light switch and I knew I’d never be able to operate the same way.  We just have to remember that not all marketers have realized and witnessed the power of testing yet.  In my opinion, there are two groups:  1.)  People who believe in testing, and 2.) People who haven’t learned enough about testing.  Is there really any other category to add?

The fact is that as conversion experts, we are on the front lines of the data-driven movement.  As experts in the field, we should use our expertise to guide traditional marketers to embrace the power of testing and data-driven decision making. Though showing the discipline required in data-driven decision making isn’t necessarily the easier path to travel, there are huge advantages to be gained and it’s worth it!  It’s really only a matter of time before everyone else catches on…

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