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Everyone says their marketing is “data driven”

I used to like the term “data-driven marketing.” I really did. But I kept running into people telling me that they were doing data-driven marketing when it just didn’t seem to be the case. They collect data, yes. They report data, yes. But the “driven” part, not so much.

Data-driven means that you make decisions based on the numbers. It means that you start with a projection of what the numbers will show if it works. Then, if the numbers don’t add up, that you do something else. It also means that you choose metrics that actually make sense for the problem at hand.

I see problems with all three of these areas in my travels, but it is the third one, using the right data, that I am starting to see more and more. And it is with a metric that is everyone’s favorite, conversions. But what is the definition of a conversion? Lately, I have seen that it is whatever someone wants it to be. Conversion rate optimization is supposed to improving a key performance indicator, but I am noticing manipulation lately, as conversions are being watered down to newsletter sign-ups and white paper downloads, all of which might be perfectly legitimate, but certainly are not as valuable as a request to be contacted by a salesperson, for example. Adding “easy” conversions improves your conversion rate but doesn’t improve your business.

You might ask what you can do instead. The main one is to place a value on conversions, which every analytics system allows. It is best for it to be an actual money value, but even a points system is better than treating every conversion the same way. Use the right metrics and make decision based on your metrics and you will be a data-driven marketer–in a good way.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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