Marketing in the modern era is a funny thing; while web based marketing campaigns are much easier to track than traditional campaigns, there is so much information available that people can be paralyzed in a quest for more data and 100% accurate information. For some, the amount of time saved by being able to quickly find out the number of people that saw their online ad during a given month is negated by the time they spend trying to see why their traffic source numbers don’t quite add up.
Besides the inability for perfect data, there is also the amount of data that is troubling. In fact, there is so much that it can sometimes be difficult to see the forest for the trees. Do I need to look at the bounce rate or exit rate? Sure, page cost is a valuable data item, but are there better variables that can model how much a given content page is worth in completing an online goal? The questions are endless and so are the answers. An expert may tell you, “it just depends”, but a person with their head in the fog of digital analytics may think there is a perfect set of numbers if they just look through it all.
In both of these areas, the answer is easy – make do with imperfection because perfect data and/or complete data are impossible. One of the guys that talks about this so well is Avinash Kaushik. if you don’t know the name, he is a New York Times best selling artist, one of Google’s head guys and is on the board of several Universities. His blog, Occam’s Razor, is pure gold for the modern day data analyst and I recently ran into one of his older posts named, A 6 Step Process to Evolve Your Mental Model. In it, he describes the idea that there is no set of perfect data and people need to follow a much simpler path to “Virtuous Data”.
Out of all the great points he makes, the one that sticks out the most is:
…your job does not depend on data with 100% integrity on the web. Your job depends on helping your company Move Fast and Think Smart.
The next time you load up Analytics, just remember that if you are working with good data and have followed best practice, you should be ready to make a decision on how to move forward. Because no matter the gargantuan efforts you may employ in the quest for complete and perfect data, the time you spent doing it could have been spent working on conversion rates, creating new split test, etc. You know, the things that will help your company grow and keep your job.
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