It's Gut Check Time For Marketing

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How do you feel about the marketing dollars that are being spent at your organization?

This is about much more than your marketing mix, and this is much more serious than how creative your advertising is looking these days. Quick question: how much do you rely on data and analytics to build, develop and deploy your marketing? This is not a trick question. It’s a very serious one. We live in a world (finally) where the data doesn’t lie. In fact, there is so much data (and so much depth to it), that acting without data seems incredulous (and that’s using a kind word).

What do you know about your consumers?

What do they like? How do they like it? What are they doing? How are they doing it? How many steps does it take for them to purchase? What is their path to purchase? What is your cost per acquisition? How much of your advertising is being optimized along with these data sets? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Still, when these questions get asked, the rooms always get quiet. Forget all of that. Be real. Get honest. If you could better understand what, exactly, your consumers were doing and were able to test and try different things against that to see if you could improve their path to purchase, would you?

Of course you would!

Here’s the thing: none of this stuff is all that expensive to do. In fact, I would be willing to argue that there are some awesome free (or even cheap-ish) tools that can make every marketer that much better. This is nothing new. These tools have been around for a while now and they are fairly sophisticated (Google Analytics, anyone?) and have become quite mature. You also don’t need a team of IT professionals to get this stuff up and running. For the most part, the vast majority of these tools are cloud-based and require little more than dumping a simple line of code on to your digital pages. I’ve seen administrative assistants pull this off as well as an IT director. 

In a world where you can do… why aren’t you?

It was a big, massive sigh. The kind of sigh that leaves you shaking your head. This feeling of almost complete defeat. That, with a slight glimpse of glee. Why glee? Because I can help. That was the array of emotions I felt after reading the Marketing Charts news item that was published today and titled, 1 in 2 US Marketers “Trust Their Gut” for Marketing Budget Decisions. Half. Half of all marketing decisions are made with our guts. With all of this data. With all of this big data. With all of this insight. With people like Avinash Kaushik and Bryan Eisenberg telling us this stuff for almost twenty years. We’re still just using our guts to decide? From the article: "There seems to be a consensus among marketers that they need to reinvent themselves to succeed, particularly as the vast majority believe that marketing is undergoing a revolution. But few of those who want to reinvent their role know how to go about doing so. Part of embracing a new approach to marketing also involves experimentation, and 54% of respondents believe that the ideal marketer should take more risks. That risk-taking extends to new technologies, but marketers were twice as likely to agree that they are more comfortable adopting new technologies once they become mainstream (65%) they they were to agree that they make use of new technology even before it’s proven (31%)." 

Depressed much?

As a digital marketing agency dude, this is mostly good news. It means that our runway at Twist Image continues to be both long and wide as nearly half of the marketers in our business are still acting quite traditionally in this world that has so radically changed. Still, as a Marketing Activist (Media Hacker or whatever you want to call me), it saddens me to read how little has changed. We’re still in the era where the CMO would much rather see their brand on a sports arena (mostly a vanity metric) than be working day in and day out to lower the cost of marketing, by being razor focused on the data, optimization and improvements that can be made by integrating technology throughout the entire marketing system. So yes, it’s gut check time.

What kind of marketing department do you want to be a part of in the future? Those that are driven by gut feelings or the data?


  1. I feel your frustration Mitch, but to succeed in the marketplace is to embrace the fact that data will never drive human decision-making. It will only serve to inform and support people’s desires and beliefs.

  2. Because the Internet is relatively young as a medium and because people don’t ever completely reset, it will take time for most organizations to absorb what analytics are and relate them to sales or successful transactions.
    Most people don’t like numbers, which is why seeing likes and followers is the extent of some measurement. At a more basic level, borrowing from Adam Alter’s work, numbers have a huge hidden influence on people – how many people say they hate math and never check their bank accounts or open bills? Numbers are scary sometimes.
    Marketers who do the math behind the anaytics, work across internal silos and build relevant stories around the numbers that tie them to outcomes build a customer-centric experience from the inside out and will be the most successful in this time of purgatory. Both data and gut are separate dimensions, it’s not either/or, it’s using data to validate gut and then resetting accordingly.

  3. Data is a guide but decisions are gut based and that’s what we are as human beings right ? Are you saying that Marketers are not even doing or showing an inclination of using Data analysis and just going with Gut ?

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