All That Data: Is It Enough and What Does It All Really Mean?

Posted by Taylor Haney on Thu, Sep 4, 2014

I know August is over but we had to squeeze in one more data and analytics post for you. Ali Hyatt, Co-Founder and Head of Marketing & Product at Upward Labs takes a look at how the quantity and quality of data can impact insights. 

describe the imageAli is the cofounder and head of marketing & product for Upward Labs, which creates software for brands to build and manage their own ambassador programs to drive consumer engagement and increase reach and revenue.  Ali was previously a brand strategist at Interbrand and Desgrippes Gobe, launching brands for Hulu, Victoria’s Secret, Kmart, Moet Chandon and American Express, and the digital strategy manager for Avery Office Products.  Ali was also a past MITX Future Leaders Group member.  Follow her @UpwardLabs or @arrobbins.

As a marketer, have you said to yourself recently:

“I know everything I need to know and there isn’t any additional data that could help me with this decision.”

I’m going to go ahead and guess that the answer is quite likely: No.

Every brand, large or small, wants more data. What to actually do with that data and how it helps brands to understand their fans and customers better, on the other hand, is not always exceedingly clear.

There is no denying that our thirst for data is seemingly unquenchable. McKinsey declared that “big data is the biggest game-changing opportunity for marketing and sales since the Internet went mainstream almost 20 years ago.” Omni-channel is key because retailers understand that the consumer is looking for information and shopping in many channels, both online and offline. Cross-device tracking is gaining popularity because knowing what someone does on her mobile phone, her tablet and her computer helps us better understand who she is (we think).

Brands also want more and more data on how users interact with social networks. In August, Instagram introduced a new suite of analytics tools for brands, allowing brands to have insight into how people engage with and respond to their photos. Brands can see how they increase brand awareness in terms of impressions, reach and engagement. Similarly, Pinterest just introduced a new analytics dashboard so brands can see how people interact with their content, tracking reach, impressions, clicks, repins, etc.

upwardlabs blog 1

Image: Instagram Business Blog,

Basically, as a social network is used more and more for brand purposes (which seems to happen as soon as the network gains enough users to be meaningful), brands need analytics as soon as they can get their hands on them. We’re still at the point, however, where we need to figure out how these analytics translate into a better understanding of the overall consumer.

In general, as brands get access to more and more data from online activities, one of the hardest things can be actually figuring out what people do offline in their daily lives as they talk to friends, family and colleagues and interact with the world outside of mobile and computer screens. At Upward Labs, our software captures all sorts of data and analytics on brand ambassadors and bloggers. Everything from what is shared on social networks to who blogs to who writes a product review to how many samples were passed out at a festival to which influencer engaged new potential fans at an event to which visual content and photos are uploaded. More data can be very good, as long as the most important goals for the data are:

To help my brand capture the most holistic picture of my best customers and fans.

The thirst for more data won’t go away, but more importantly, it is critical for brands to know how this data all fits together and gives us the bigger picture of who the person is. It can certainly be helpful to know what that person does on Instagram and how he engages with content, but it would be much more helpful to also know what this person does everywhere else and what that really means related to what drives and motivates him.

It’s time to delve more into taking the data we have (across online and offline channels) and using it to define the person behind the numbers.

What do you think? Does more data always mean more insights? Or are we still far off on our path to data and analytics that matter and truly define the consumer more meaningfully?