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.