Untagged: Strategy before implementation


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strategy playing chess

“Would you stand in front of your boss and defend your data? Would you put your job on the line?” Interesting questions like this and many more were just part of the thought-provoking and insightful presentations held at Untagged this week in Madrid.

While each session had its own special twist, the common theme throughout the day was “strategy before implementation”. What does that mean? Simple: if for example, you would answer “no” to the question above then it is time to go back to the basics and figure out exactly why you can’t trust your data enough to make strong or bold decisions when the moment calls.

Brian Clifton, best-selling author & analytics specialist, highlighted that one of the key reasons why stakeholders are continually frustrated and making poor decisions is lack of data quality.

In large organizations, key decision makers are typically disconnected from the actual implementations of data collection tools and strategies and may even be unaware of any assumptions made in putting these in place.While this is normal it can cause an array of doubts. Brian suggested running data audits to make sure that data quality standards are held high and executive can feel more confident relying on it to make wise decisions.

Simo Ahava, Senior Data Advocate at Reaktor, continued the conversation. From an analytical point of view, he stated: that it is true, you do not need to educate the C-suite on the ins and outs of data collection. However, they must know the significance of the metrics they are reporting on and how they impact company objectives.

So how then do we decide on these meaningful metrics? And once we have them, how do we start making decisions and taking actions around them?

Yehoshua Coren, also known as the Analytics Ninja, claims that the very worst way to decide what to report on is by asking an analyst  “What can you tell me from my data?”. It isn’t your data’s job to just tell you a story. You should be asking yourself what you want your data to tell you.

Data exists to give answers. However, before answers can be given, real questions must be asked. If you’re stuck on this, think about your goals and then think about which metrics tie into those goals in order to be able to approach your data with the right questions. Once you’ve asked the right question and you are reporting on metrics that are a true reflection of business performance, you should be able to start making decisions around your data.

Yehoshua went on to quote Analytics expert, Tim Wilson, stating, we must “avoid data wondering”. To lean more on the side of caution – don’t ever say “hypothesis”. Instead, plainly state “I believe… (some idea about the site or channel). If I am right, we will… (take some specific action).” While this may still be a hypothesis, it is worded in a way that is more reassuring and clearly lays out a plan of action which can be put into motion.

What if your organization is “not there yet”?

As a marketer, the theories presented above and the reality of the tasks at hand may be overwhelming, but don’t fret. Start in the most logical spot and work your way back if need be. You know your organization and you know what you’re working towards. Thus, with a few braining storming sessions you should be able to map out your goals and start tying them to metrics that directly answer “How are we doing?”

As explained in our post, Reporting should not be an afterthought but a launching pad, setting out a basic reporting framework truly forces organizations to think about their strategic objectives. Starting with data integration and discovery alone without clear objectives can be futile. Companies who set up strong reporting procedures from the start may even be able to combat some of the doubts stakeholders have when understanding what metrics represent and how they were calculated or collected.

While this is not to say you shouldn’t run a data audit to ensure quality, that is a definite must, you shouldn’t worry if you are not perfectly mature from the start. Use reporting as a way to kickstart your move into digital analytics maturity – you’ll be happy that you did!


How has your organization launched their initiatives towards becoming a mature analytics organization?

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Holly McKendry

Sweetspot Marketing Director. Wakeboarder & travel enthusiast. Communication Studies graduate of Texas State University, San Marcos.

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