Data is powerful. The ability to measure every element in the digital space has given marketers more leverage in career-related discussions than ever before – after all, you can easily show the value you bring.
But this very same data can also be a curse. The ability to measure everything has given rise to an expectation to prove your worth. Not using the data available to you to its full potential could hamper your growth. Effective data storytelling can mean the difference between getting that all-important promotion or stagnating in a dead-end role.
Here are some of the common data storytelling mistakes that could be limiting your career:
- You’re focusing on too much data
With the vast amount of data available to us, it is easy to overcomplicate things. There’s a tendency to report on every little aspect of a campaign – of course, you want to show off how hard you’ve been working. What this tends to do though is muddy the analysis, derailing the conversation and focusing on insights that won’t move the needle. Instead of narrowing down on what’s really important, you’re drawing insight from irrelevant data. This then informs the actions you take on the next campaign, after which the same mistakes are repeated. As a result, you never make any real impact. You need to keep things simple. Limit yourself to what’s most important to ensure that you’re surfacing the insights that will drive meaningful growth.
- You’re measuring the wrong things
Marketers often get caught up in focusing on vanity metrics – number of social fans, page views etc. – which don’t provide much value. How do these metrics tie back to business objectives? Can you show the impact that the number of social fans had on the bottom line? When deciding how to measure the success of your campaigns, always make sure that what you are reporting on can be tied back to what the business is trying to achieve – show your boss what value you are bringing!
- You aren’t measuring against targets
Another mistake that often gets made is to view results in isolation. You’re telling a story about the great results you achieved, but aren’t providing any context to these. Is a cost per lead of R10 good or bad? Is this an improvement on what we were achieving before? By including a comparison against targets, you put results into perspective – making it much easier to prove your success.
- You do have targets set, but these are unrealistic
It’s all good and well-having targets in place, but not worth much if these aren’t accurate. It’s not unusual to have targets dictated to you by upper management – seemingly pulled out of thin air rather than real-world performance. You never seem to be able to meet these targets, and always look like you’re underperforming. That is no way to grow your career. You need to help steer targets, using industry benchmarks (where available) or past performance to provide a guide when setting targets.
- You aren’t learning from past performance
But what if you have proper data storytelling in place? You’ve ensured that you’re focusing on what’s important, you can measure the impact on business performance, and you’re performing well above benchmark. This might be a tick in your favour during the next performance review, but doesn’t mean much if you don’t use the insights to drive continued growth. It’s quite common in tight-deadline environments to move into production on the next campaign as soon as the previous one is finished. This often means that insight isn’t being fed into the next campaign and you end up making the same mistakes and getting the same results. As a result, you aren’t building on what was achieved before. You need to action the learnings your data provides, or you won’t see the growth you’re looking for.
Algorithm has experts that specialise in effective data storytelling. Our integrated reporting offering is built around simplifying the data layer to focus on what’s important, helping to surface the insights that will grow your career. We can also help set KPIs and targets that are tied directly to your business objectives.