Keys to Gleaning Actionable Insights from Marketing Data

The overwhelming majority of PR and marketing experts understand that data analysis can deliver substantial benefits. Organizations eagerly gather a vast amount of data on their customers from social media analytics, focus groups, surveys and other sources in an effort to make better decisions about products and marketing strategies. However, marketing data analysts still struggle to glean valuable insights from their enormous databases.

Research from Econsultancy and analytics consultant Lynchpin issued last year reveals that half of the organizations surveyed regard digital analytics as “very important,” up from 43 percent the previous year, and 31 percent believe it’s “somewhat important. Clearly, there’s a growing recognition of the importance of digital analytics. However, just 30 percent of marketing professionals feel that more than half their data are useful, down from 33 percent the previous year. The report reveals a general trend of data driving less decision-making. The portion of survey participants who believe that analytics “definitely” drive actionable recommendations that make a difference decreased from 29 to 26 percent since 2008.


A Question of Personnel
A CMO survey discovered that about a third of the available data are used to drive company decision-making. Researchers theorize that lack of the right processes or tools to measure success may thwart companies from taking advantage of data. In addition, organizations may lack personnel who are proficient in both data analytics and marketing practices. Companies must have the right people to connect the dots between analytics and marketing practices.
The solution may be to pursue better information, not more numbers. In other words, seek quality over quantity. An analytics strategy can also improve the situation, experts say.
Some analysts can try to “sniff out” the small amount of data that can provide actionable advice that leads to highly beneficial decisions. Ironically, that method could be as much art as science.

Emphasize the Why to Uncover Meaning
Some experts propose that emphasizing “why,” or the meaning and context will lead to better insights. Focusing less on data and more on context will help marketing teams reap the full benefit from social media analytics, a group of three experts state in the Harvard Business Journal. To put it another way, researchers need to “think like an anthropologist.”
“Social listening promises the Holy Grail in business: superior understanding of customers. Why, then, do managers fail to fully exploit it?” the authors ask.

Bottom Line: Organizations have more data than ever, but the bulk of that data does not reveal actionable insights that prompt better decision-making. An increase in qualified analysts who can uncover actionable recommendations could help solve the challenge.


This is a community post by Michael Kling. Michael Kling is the manager of public relations, marketing and social media at, a media monitoring and measurement company based in Stratford, CT. The Inclick Community thanks Mr Kling for his efforts of writing about the subject.

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