Data, three missing requirements

How to use data on content for better business decisions

Data. There’s more than enough written about data. Yet they all got in common that they tend to forget the three most important requirements to make smart and evidenced business decisions.

Over and over again, I see this in the so-called content strategies of my clients. 


Why it matters

We use data to measure our progress toward our objectives. The objective is at the heart of our (content) strategy: the reason why we invest in producing and distributing content. Usually, the objective of the content strategy is in line with the business objectives. 

Hence, to correctly measure the impact of content investments, it's essential to use the correct data.  More often than not, brands go too micro, too focused on details, and too short-term to be able to see the bigger picture. 

Read and learn how you can improve your data on content for better business decisions. 

  1.  Macro, zoom out
  2. The value of data that's missing
  3. Objective-based, not vanity-based


1. Marco and zoom out

Reporting on content usually sticks to a single asset level. What content scored in the likes, clicks, and or conversions? Zooming in on the micro level with vanity metrics. Great for AB test and learn, awful to make business decisions.

To make a representative decision on how the content impacts the business objective, you have to zoom out. 

Content ROI never is a one-off; it’s always a combination of assets over a longer time period. This means you should combine the metrics of several content items over at least six months. 

 Content needs time and to be evaluated at a macro level, not a micro. 


2. The value of data that’s missing

“The story behind the data is arguably more important than the data itself. Or, more precisely, the reason behind why we are missing certain pieces of data may be more meaningful than the data we have.” Source: Science

Look beyond the numbers. Look further, stay curious, and reverse your thinking. You don’t know what you don’t know.

The visual below explains it all. 




The same goes for ‘this is the ad most people click on, therefore it’s the best ad.” Source: John Long; I kindly recommend following him for more brand inspiration. 

That’s bullocks. You don’t know why people click on the ad. And you don’t know what these clickers do beyond the click. Or what they do in a later post-cookie stage. Or when they walk into a store. 




This brings me to the third requirement…


3. Objective-based, not vanity-based

Use the right data. If your objective is for people to read your content item, you can’t use likes or other engagement metrics to evaluate the success. The success is ‘views', a.k.a. eyeballs, native or beyond the click. 

From experience, I wrote a piece on ‘take content out of the marketing department’ with a whooping five likes on LinkedIn. Not very good for my ego, to be honest. Yet, diving into my Google Analytics data beyond the click in my newsroom, I had an all-time high number of visitors in 24h after publication. Evaluating the vanity metrics, my post was not a good post. Looking into the eyeballs, it was an overwhelming success.

It's the objective that counts, not the vanity.


Some final words

Data done wrong is zooming in on the details of the individual assets or campaigns. It's about the bigger picture, zooming out and measuring the impact on the business objectives. 

Inspired? Triggered? Want to implement this yourself, and you don't know how and where to start? Just send me a note for a quick call. 


Fleur Willemijn van Beinum

We tend to forget the three most important requirements to use data for smart and evidenced business decisions.

Fleur Willemijn van Beinum