We’re living through something of a data explosion. The digital world generates double the quantity of data every two years.

Digital marketers have become a little obsessed with data recently. The idea is that if you can harness the power of data, then you can better target customers, optimize SEO and boost your overall online appeal. To many, it seems like a magic bullet.

But why are digital marketers so obsessed with data? And is it a good thing? Let’s take a look.

Data Allows Them To Continually Monitor Results

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The inventors of the industrial era knew that if they couldn’t measure something, they couldn’t improve it. For instance, if you were designing a steam engine, if you couldn’t measure the power output, then you would have no idea whether one design was better than another.

The same principle applies to digital marketing: if you can’t measure what works, you can’t make improvements.

Data Allows Them To Measure Performance

Digital marketers rely on metrics. Metrics and KPIs tell them whether their actions are moving them towards their targets or not.

The KPIs that a firm chooses to target depends very much on what that particular organization wants to achieve. For firms just starting, the objective is usually to get as many brand impressions as possible. Users need to know that the company exists before they will start buying its products. For other companies – typically those that are more established – the focus in on conversions. Which marketing strategies lead the most people to buy a product for a given advertising spend?

Data Means That They Can Appeal To Their Customers

If an SEO agency wasn’t able to measure its performance, would customers keep on coming back for more? It’s unlikely. Firms want to be able to see that their rank and page authority is improving, and they trust digital marketers to do this. If people weren’t aware that organic search was one of the best ways to generate leads online per dollar spent, then it’s unlikely that SEO would be the industry that it is today. Measurement is an indication of success.

The Problem With Focusing Solely On Data

Of course, digital marketers can take things too far, only on the data and ignoring human qualities like prudence, insight, creativity, and imagination. There’s a risk that digital marketing will become a big, soulless optimization problem and that companies will cease coming up with creative marketing ideas.

The best way to think of data for digital marketing is as a tool which enables companies to enhance their marketing materials. Data can help them better target niche customers, appeal to their needs in real time, and get a sense of the kind of content they prefer. But what data cannot do is come up with anything original itself. It can’t for instance, tell you what colors you should choose for your brand, what story you should tell customers about your company, or what tone you should take. That’s all a matter of human intuition.

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