With decision making, perfect is the enemy of good


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Perfect is the enemy of good

Il meglio è l’inimico del bene” – Voltaire

I’ve recently come across a number of thought pieces discussing how ‘actions are the new insights’.

Over the last 20 or so years we have seen huge changes in the way we analyze data and what we consider vital to the optimization of marketing performance. This, after all is our final objective; irrespective of whether we aim to increase revenue for an organization, decrease costs, strengthen brand value, increase customer satisfaction or achieve an entirely different goal.

While the early years of web analytics were spent counting hits only, subsequent years saw exploration into ways to collect additional data. This expanded from across not only search results pages, to within pages, and also to Social Media. The emergence of these solutions brought about an unprecedented ability to analyze data.

Too much of anything is always a bad thing however, and the buzz around the Big Data we were now able to collect led to skepticism over the value of huge quantities of data. As ‘vanity metric’ came to be a dirty word, ‘Insight’ was what digital marketers began to seek.

What’s the difference between data and insight?

In this scenario, data can be thought of as facts collected for analysis. In most cases, digital data is collected by automated solutions and given some structure in it’s presentation. Insights, on the other hand are the results of this analysis. They are pieces of information that reflect deep understanding of the data analyzed; its context, and its significance. Data alone can tell you little until it has been analyzed and conclusions about its historical trend, current and predicted future behavior have been drawn.

But, this isn’t the end of the story. Even where effective systems of communication mean that these insights are shared with the individuals, teams or departments in an organization for whom they are most relevant, knowledge alone will effect no change.

‘Actions are the new insights’

Many digital marketers are now taking it a step further and have implemented effective systems of insight management through which they are able to take action based on these insights, and do so within a timely manner.

These marketers are able to get the right information to the right people within an adequate timeframe to act on it and positively impact on performance. But, how do they do it?

  • These marketers ensure that individuals and teams have access to the information they need to meet their objectives
  • They implement collaboration systems that enable decision makers to easily communicate with analysts in order to ask the questions and receive the insights that will enable them to make strong decisions
  • They have sufficient transparency into historical trends, predicted future performance and their current results compared to their objectives to foresee problems and address them before they damage performance

Perhaps most importantly, however, is that they have built a culture around data-based decision making and the quick turnaround of ideas and actions.

Perfect is the enemy of good

While testing ideas before universal implementation, and the modeling of different scenarios prior to taking action can lead to very effective action taking, in the world of digital marketing; where sentiment can change very quickly, the actions of competitors can cause huge fluctuations in traffic (or revenue) and unpredictable customer behavior is rife, digital marketers should be prepared to act quickly.

Having strong systems in place for the sharing of insights and action taking, as well as the collection of best practices built around their own experiences and past actions can assist teams in quickly implementing change. While you might not always get it right, delaying actions in the world of digital can mean missing the boat entirely and not being able to impact performance within workable timeframes.

So while working to short timeframes and taking actions before exhaustive analysis has been done may not always lead to perfect results, they can lead to good results that are exponentially better than taking no action at all.

How do you ensure your team is able to take action quickly enough to make positive changes within your organization?



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Megan Wilcock

VP of Business Development for Sweetspot. Responsible for strategic brand development, marketing and business development. BA/BComm graduate from the University of Melbourne. My passion lies in finding creative solutions and encouraging collaboration.

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