Gut Feeling Versus Actual Data

By Angelika Ilina

chartsSome decisions in life are better made following your gut feeling while others are better made based on actual data. When it comes to marketing, what happens when we make decisions based on our gut feeling vs. actual data? Too often, we end up wasting our precious marketing dollars. Are you guilty of making marketing decisions based on your gut?

The Pitfalls of Relying On Your Gut

Six months ago I bought a mobile app to track my new exercise routine. My goal was to exercise three times per week. Some weeks I exercise three times; others 0-2 times. My gut feeling was that over the course of six months, on average, I was pretty close to hitting my goal. Then I finally checked the stats on my mobile app. To my utter surprise, the app said that, on average, I was exercising only once every five days! Sigh.

I was guilty of relying on my gut feeling that painted a rosy picture. The reality, however, was different (and somewhat harsh) because data tells you the truth.

Data Doesn’t Lie

Marketing works the same way. For example, your gut feeing says that Google is king, so you should only advertise on Google. A quick look at your website analytics reveals, however, that while the conversion rate for your Google Pay-Per-Click campaign is around 2%, it is 7% for searches coming from Bing. This piece of data helps you decide to advertise on Bing networks.

Or, your gut feeing says that a slick, more-images-than-text website design will be super cool, but a quick glance at your website visitor data reveals that your customers are less web-savvy and are likely to get confused and frustrated when navigating your site. They also tend to be more anxious about providing information online, which could result in lower conversion rates if you’re not addressing this in your design. This helps you decide to add anxiety-reducing elements to your lead generation site as well as steer clear of an overwhelming look & feel.

Another example: you’re using your gut feeing to come up with subject lines for your email campaign. Maybe you’re relying on what you see in your email inbox or what your competitors are doing. Then you do a split test and find out that the two subject lines you were testing actually result in exactly the same open rate. One of them, however, results in a higher click-through rate. This piece of data helps you to decide which subject line to use in your email blast.

What Should You Track?

Although there is a lot of data you can track, here are a few examples of things to track that will help you decide where and how you should invest your marketing dollars:

  • Which marketing channels have the highest conversion rates
  • Which marketing channels bring the highest return on investment
  • Which subject lines have the highest open and click-through rates
  • What the percentage is of mobile users and what devices they use
  • How high the bounce rate is for various traffic sources
  • What questions are asked over and over via live chat
  • How long visitors stay on your landing pages

Start Making Smarter Marketing Decisions

If you find yourself relying on your gut when it comes to marketing like I did with my exercise routine, I encourage you to look at the hard facts. Maybe the data will support your gut feeling, but if it doesn’t, you’ll be better equipped to make smarter marketing decisions that bring a greater return on your marketing investments. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Marketing

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