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It came from beneath the dashboard!

As marketers, we live and breathe data.

It’s the numbers—good and bad—that drive campaign success. Data tells us who’s clicking our
ads and what they’re doing on our digital properties. Sophisticated analytical mapping helps
trace the path from first exposure to final conversion, and every step in between. An actionable,
thoughtful approach to data is now table stakes for competitive digital marketing.

So what’s the problem? Paradoxically, an overabundance of data can actually m ake it h arder to
mine valuable insights and determine best courses of action.

This phenomenon, called “Analysis Paralysis,” occurs when data overload has a paralytic effect.
Adrift in a vast sea of complex metrics and colorful charts, we resign ourselves to endless
analysis and observation, and less action (because we don’t have all the data, we tell
ourselves).

But in today’s light-speed marketing world, waiting for all the data is a luxury we don’t have.

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Are you experiencing Analysis Paralysis?

It’s more common than you might think. Because we’re exposed to so much data on an
everyday basis, it can be difficult to recognize when overload is compromising your ability to
generate thoughtful insights.

If your reports are chock-full of observations (eg, “2% improvement in click-through from
Android users in Tibet!”) but light on recommendations, that’s a good sign you’re experiencing
Analysis Paralysis.

Some other key symptoms:

  • Your reports are incoherent. Analysis Paralysis introduces so much complexity that
    the story is buried beneath a mountain of charts, tables, and shiny metrics.
  • Your reports are overstuffed. A classic symptom of Analysis Paralysis is when reports
    contain every possible metric.
  • It’s difficult to boil down the key takeaways. This is marketing, not a doctoral thesis. If
    a report can’t produce some pithy, actionable comments, it’s probably not worth
    producing.

How to beat Analysis Paralysis

The good news: there’s a cure. Analysis Paralysis can be managed by employing a handful of
best practices:

  • Plan, plan, plan. Just like a family vacation, things are so much better when
    everybody’s on the same page beforehand. Produce a clear, concise Measurement Plan
    for client approval well before the campaign launches.
  • Prioritize the KPIs. Taking a scientific approach to data, determine your KPIs as part of
    the Measurement Plan and then prioritize their measurement. Otherwise, you risk being
    drawn to whichever metrics or numbers look the most intriguing. While this can make for
    interesting reporting, it will ultimately obscure the key questions you’re trying to ask.
  • Leverage charts and visualizations. A picture is worth a thousand bullet points. Charts
    and visualizations are elegant tools for boiling complex data down into a simple,
    accessible story. If you’re dealing with three or more related metrics, a chart is a
    necessity for making the data understandable.

If you’re lost in a sea of data, following these rules will bring you back to shore.

Want to learn more about Analysis Paralysis (and several other critical data reporting and
visualization concepts)? Email us for a complimentary copy of our webinar “Next Generation
Reporting.”

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