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Wednesday, Jun. 6, 2007 at 9:11 am

Too Many Marketers Are Addicted to (Useless) Data

By Holly Buchanan
June 6th, 2007

How many metrics are on you dashboard? 10? 30? 60? 100?

How many do you actually look at on a regular basis?

How do you use that information? If a metric goes up or down, how does that guide a specific action?

In other words, what actionable insight does this data provide? The main problem is, data’s good at telling you what your customers are doing, but not WHY they’re doing it.

A recent Ad Age article, Move From Metrics Overload to Actionable Insights (paid subscription required), takes a look at this problem:

According to a 2006 study by the Association of National Advertisers and Marketing Management Analytics, 58% of companies surveyed have formal marketing accountability programs, but only 28% report being satisfied with their ability to use ROI metrics to take action. Often, companies are swept up in the “metrics mania” without any way to tie insights to business results.

It is not uncommon, for example, to see organizations with more than 40 metrics on their dashboards. Addicted to metrics, these marketers create new metrics every time they initiate a program. Ask them why they are capturing these metrics, and they can’t tell you. Not only that, but the metrics captured aren’t even relevant to the business. And they can’t be acted upon.

What metrics do you look at on a regular basis? What acitonable insight does this data give you? What if you only had one report? What would you choose?

P.S. This is one of Jeffrey‘s pet peeves. He says that if you can’t determine what impact a metric has on one of the three financial statements, it’s probably not worth measuring.

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Comments (7)

  1. I was just talking to a client about this. Basically, through Google Analytics, the only conclusion was that their site was converting badly. Very badly.

  2. [...] address the questions your customers are asking at various stages of the buying process. (If your customer data's unclear, just ask your sales/business development people. They can recite common questions in [...]

  3. [...] 3. Are you addicted to useless data? [...]

  4. I can think of one exception- I wonder if you agree?

    What if the analytic basically tells you to continue doing something? E.g. if you’re adding content to continue to improve relationship with customers?

    Or would you move that only into email? And only place new content into sensible places within conversion paths?

  5. I would love to find out more Metrics Overload. Can you send me addtional information? Thank you for your time

  6. It is sad, but not only the marketers are addicted to useless data… all company’s departments are.

    40 metrics in a dashboard… do you mind how is been driving a car with 40 indicators in your dashboard? … mmm I guess that is why our companies are overloaded of “assistants” and “vice-vice-vice-analytics’ supervisor i.a.”

    Let’s face it… we love useless data… calculate them is almost more entretaining than Sudoku… and most people think we are great, because we measure “that”… :(

  7. true i do everything in steps of 3

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Holly Buchanan is a marketing to women consultant specializing in marketing to women online. You can read her blog at She is the co-author, along with Michele Miller of The Soccer Mom Myth - Today's Female Consumer - Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys.

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