ThinkOTB Agency

How much is too much when it comes to consumer data?

April 3, 2024

We’re always reading about how vital consumer data is, and the need to acquire as much data as possible to enable us to truly understand our audience and hyper-personalise our communications. But is there a downside to increased data usage? How much is too much when it comes to data? A survey of 300 CMOs in small to medium businesses found that over half of their teams are now using 14 or more marketing data sources. The biggest issue they face is that they have too much data and struggle to turn it into actionable insight.

In this blog, we’re going to take a closer look at the potential downside of consumer data saturation and explore how marketers can optimise their data strategy.

The downside of too much data

It can lead to confusion…

With an unprecedented volume of marketing metrics available, data complexity is one of the biggest challenges. Whether its website traffic, social media shares, response and conversion rates, click-through rates or lead generation stats, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. The sheer volume and variety of consumer data available can make it a struggle to drill down to get to the ‘so what’s’. There’s a strong chance that, with confusion, irrelevant metrics could be used, and the wrong actions taken.

It doesn’t come cheap…

Particularly if it comes from a third party source. In a post-GDPR landscape, there’s a requirement to use data responsibly. You need to ensure the right consents are in place, and procuring this verified data can be expensive. If the data you acquire isn’t fully compliant, you run the risk of losing the data itself and incurring heavy penalties. Not to mention the potential loss of brand reputation due to a lack of consumer trust, which we all know can be extremely costly for business.

Even first party data doesn’t come for free. Many businesses rely on first party data collection, gathering it straight from their target audience through activities such as browsing history, transactions, surveys and reviews. This is usually free to collect, unless you’re just starting out and need to set up tools for data collection. Althouh it’s generally reliable and accurate, there is still a cost to store it, keep it up to date and analyse it to get meaningful insights.

Look before you leap!

So, before you jump head-first into consumer data collection, it’s important to look at the true cost of doing it and the data infrastructure required to manage and store it. It’s important to factor in how quickly data ages or becomes irrelevant. As technology advances, data can cease to match up with the new technology that you’re trying to leverage it through.

And, if you’re going down the digital advertising route, only about a third of the investment you typically make on programmatic media will make it through to your target consumer. A lot will be lost to impressions that aren’t viewable, are fraudulent or end up on clickbait sites. Plus, you need to factor in agency and tagging fees. With budgets being squeezed, it’s no surprise that many brands have started to reduce the role that programmatic media plays in their marketing mix.

A balanced approach is best

Taking all of this into account, the best approach is to assess your data needs based on the type of marketing campaign you want to run, what the objectives are for that campaign and what your budget is. Do this on a campaign by campaign basis to make sure you’re using your budgets wisely and only procuring consumer data that you will use and that you’re capable of managing.

Many brands are increasingly reverting back to the more ‘traditional’ approach of prioritising partnerships and specific media titles. They feel this gives them greater control of their campaigns and reduces the risks and wider issues that digital media comes with.

How to optimise your data strategy

Relevance is king

It’s vital that marketers ensure that they collect the right data, using a systematic approach to acquiring and filtering metrics. This ensures you only choose the most relevant information to retain and process. To help you do this, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What questions am I trying to answer?
  • Are my data sources reliable?
  • What am I going to use the data for?
  • When will I use the data?
  • What metrics do the marketing team and business need to see?

Strategy comes first

As we’ve mentioned, too much data can be confusing and muddy the water. So, it’s essential to have a plan before you decide to buy or collect data. Being strategic and sourcing the right data to deliver on a specific marketing objective, means the data will be relevant and accurate. This gives you more chance of driving ROI and ensures you get as much bang for your buck as possible.

Keep your consumer data up to date

For your data to be useful remember it needs to be continually updated. View it as a living thing to be reviewed and tweaked regularly. GDPR means that all data has a relatively short shelf-life, so it’s vital to keep it up to date and compliant, or you risk falling foul of the rules. It’s also wise to remember that AI and other emerging technology will continue to try to disrupt your plans, so your data strategy needs to keep up to date with that too.

Stay focused on your objectives

The key to getting the most out of consumer data, whether it’s first or third party, is to stay focused on what you’re trying to achieve and not get distracted by the sheer volume of data metrics available. Choose your data sources wisely and make sure you use the data you collect. Don’t sit on it or it will be out of date before you know it!

We’re a creative marketing agency with decades of experience creating data-driven marketing campaigns. We also help clients collect and manage consumer data and insight through focus groups, workshops and surveys. So, if you’ve got a data challenge and you could use some help, get in touch today.

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