by Andre Bourque

How to assess whether your data is worth the dollars

May 30, 2017
Analytics Marketing

Sometimes one small change can help decide if your data is worth it or not.

man holding money with growth
Credit: Thinkstock

Marketers will preach the important role data plays in marketing, but no one really talks about the value of the data. Data-driven buys can cost more, and digital advertisers could be left paying for calls to ad servers and to use better tracking. The costs add up, and they don’t always even out. 

So how can you tell if the data needed for advertising is worth the dollars spent on getting it? You have to test it of course.

Start out by considering the budget you have and what you need to do with it. This forms the foundation of testing. Think about how unique each data set is, and the scale of it. Sometimes you will have to consider just one side of the equation, as a data set could give you a broad scale, but not much in the way of unique variables. You may only need these unique variables if you’re considering a specific niche audience anyway. 

Jeremy M. Williams, Chief Code Architect at app design firm Vyudu Inc. points out, “The plain and simple goal of marketing is to produce profitable sales and in all honesty, most companies fail to see or understand the inherent worth of data in respects to marketing; However, this data that most companies are ignoring has enormous value.”

The sad fact is that only half of business even track their ROI while the other half have no idea if their marketing is even functional to say the least. In all actuality, collecting data isn’t even the issue. The real challenge is lack of focus and accepting that big data comes with big responsibility; before we can intelligently purpose the data, we must intuitively understand and identify the metrics that matter most to our customer goals, needs, and overall vision. 

Examples of metrics that matter include, but aren’t limited to, motivation, search terms, location, income, and perceived value. If you haven’t been thoroughly testing different hypotheses, I suggest that you run some tests to collect the data you need. It’s a dirty job, but it’s well worth the reward.

Let’s say you had a huge dataset filled with adults over 18 years old. This is a common kind of data set to have. You also work with partners that have their own proprietary data though. This could be something interesting like geo-location.

These days you can work with people who can get you within less than a mile of your business. You can focus on the people who live right by you, if you want to. This is something that many people would consider, as it is a great way to reach the right people with the right message.

Now you need to assess if the data is effective against a different partner offering a more general audience. There are a few things to look out for. You need to assess reach and engagement of course; how many people are you reaching and how are they interacting with the brand? You also look for results to see how effective each system is.

An interesting part of all this is that changing the data set or the algorithm even a little can completely change whether or not the agency is able to deliver on their campaign metric. It can also depend entirely on what is being tracked in the campaign. Sometimes one small change like this can decide if the data is worth it or not. It’s entirely possible that a partner that worked great before can be awful just a few months later because they made some changes.

It’s not quite clear what causes this sudden shift either. It likely won’t be revealed by the campaign results. It could be because of changes in technology or methodology, which can be evident when looking at campaign results. It can also happen because the agency changes their parameters and adjusts their metrics. It could be the way that something is calculated or even the way that individuals are counted. It’s just impossible to trace for sure because it can be difficult to understand what is happening with the partner thanks to their constant adjustments.

If you work with a partner that constantly grows their offerings, it’s important to work closely with them to understand the changes made so that you can properly communicate the changes with clients. Evaluating your marketing data on a regular basis is another important step as the data needs to work with your own marketing programs to deliver the best results.

The relative youth of these location data companies is a reflection of an emerging sector. It seems likely when you consider that the value proposition sounds similar to many partners. There are lots of different approaches to tracking data. Everyone is keen to find something that differentiates them to make their results more accurate.

At the end of the day, the goals and the KPIs are going to be the guiding light for assessing evaluations and which metrics should be used when making a final decision. The truth is that sometimes scale is more important than interaction, and sometimes interaction is more important than scale. There are also partners that are going to be able to deliver fantastic results with both things. The main thing you need to keep in mind is your personal goals, and the amount of money you have to spend reaching them.

If you were to add dollars to your marketing campaign, are you getting the most out of those dollars when it comes to delivering for the business?