Three Reasons Big Data Isn’t Enough

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The inner data junkie in me loves data. I could spend most of my day playing with spreadsheets. Trend lines, bubble charts and bar graphs can make, or break, my entire day. Every once in a while I get lost in all the possibilities data provides.  And then I’m reminded data is an amazing facilitator but has limited capacity on its own.

#1 Data tells us what but not why 

Data provides incredible insights. When used properly it tells us exactly what someone’s journey has been. We can see what the buyer read, which pages they visited and even with whom they’ve spoken at the organization. But the data does not tell us why. To truly benefit we must compliment quantitative analysis with qualitative research to understand buyer motivation.

#2 You risk losing the individual

Understanding patterns allows our organizations to scale. We optimize communications based on A/B testing. We segment our database on profile data. We trigger campaigns based on recent event participation. All of this is valuable except when it becomes the overpowering driver.  When everything we do groups people together we lose sight of the individual. One to one marketing might not be practical for most of us, but we should never give up the quest to integrate the individual into everything we do.

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# 3 False confidence in the “funnel”

You’ve heard it a million times. Build your programs to focus on top, middle or bottom of the funnel prospects. We report on it. We segment based upon it. We even customize our content for it.

The problem is the funnel is dead and all this data convinces us otherwise. Buyer’s are on a journey that doesn’t fit nicely into our models. We will attract and engage people at different points and it’s our job to make ourselves accessible. By labeling content for specific “funnel” stages we risk limiting its potential audience. Our job is not to segment out people from our content but rather to attract people to it.


Data is a critical element of your marketing strategy. Never take it for granted and never take it in isolation.  I like mine with a healthy dose of gut instinct and loads of qualitative information.