If you’re like me, you’re a marketer and business development professional whose instinct for campaign decisions and directions follow gut responses, industry experience, customer feedback, and company goals. Like many of my marketing employees, I am fueled by a strong right-side brain, resulting in work that is creative, strategic, and innovative. Understanding and evaluating data, while important for the success of my role and my campaigns, did not always come natural to me. Spending my career in business development and marketing roles, however, has required a heavy understanding of data and how it informs my campaigns.
I’m not alone in this battle between what I’m naturally drawn to and what is needed for my role. Studies have shown that many high-level managers lean toward the left brain, focusing on bottom-line numbers and minute details before looking at the big picture. While we need these strengths, right-brain perspectives carry a different — and vital — understanding of internal leadership, like organizational capability and alignment, and an intuitive sense of what customers will want. As a manager and leader, a large part of my role is to be strategic and discuss new ideas and initiatives. But I cannot successfully deploy new marketing campaigns unless I first evaluate how past campaigns were received.
Did You Know: Marketers who spend 30% more time analyzing performance data yield 2x more click-throughs and 3x higher open rates.
With that in mind, here are four practices I’ve implemented to become a data scientist in my career.
1. Put “why” behind the report. Sometimes marketers are auto-added to a list of reports and either don’t read them or don’t understand how the information pertains to their particular job. Some marketers may even be expected to pull data without a reason fueling the action. Create reasons for each data grab so your team can understand what part of their role certain data influences.
2. Establish a plan of action for data. So you pulled a report, now what? Do you hold a meeting to discuss it? Do you compile a spreadsheet comparing it with past data? Now that you’re armed with more knowledge of traffic or behavior, come up with a plan on how you will use that data to support new initiatives, shift directions, or hone existing strategies.
3. Explore past reports. Inform your new data with historical information to determine whether campaign success is getting better or worse. Pulling a current report of unsubscribes, for example, with nothing to compare it to won’t give you any reference on whether the numbers are good or bad. For my right-brain tendency, comparison reports in visual graphs quickly show me the differences and are both easier to digest and more palatable to my understanding.
4. Meet with company experts to you help understand. Still unsure about the data you pulled and what it means? Set up recurring meetings with experts in your company who deal with these particular functions — website management, customer retention, account upgrades, and more — to hear feedback they’re receiving from customers and apply that emotional data to the numbers before you for a more holistic view of what’s working and what isn’t. Armed with inter-departmental insight, you can craft new directions for marketing to improve negative feedback and capitalize on positive reactions.
As marketers, we all have different strengths. Just because we may not naturally be drawn to analyzing data to inform our marketing campaigns doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to approach data in a way that makes sense for our roles and comprehension. Follow the steps above if, like me, you need to uncover the motivation and application for data points in order to inform and craft better and more successful campaigns.