How Curiosity Can Improve Your Data Analysis

/ Thoughtspace - General, Strategy

Efficiently analyzing data and providing ongoing campaign optimization recommendations is critical for driving the best results for our clients. However, the complexity and rigidity of data sets can make the most meaningful insights difficult to accurately uncover. In order to elevate your analysis and provide better insights for your campaign performance, you must stay curious, using knowledge and creativity to bolster your approach. 

Moving from Data Analytics to Data Insights

Analytics and insights – they are closely related, but not the same. Analytics is a way we approach a problem that is standardized and repeatable. But what we’re really after is turning these numbers into insights. For instance, you might see that a lot of people clicked on your ad – analytics. But going further to ask ‘What does the high click-through rate mean? and deciding how are you changing campaigns based on that knowledge – that’s insight. 

In other words, analytics are repeatable, standardized processes to understand data and gain information. Insights are what we do based on that information. 

When running a campaign, there are often thousands, sometimes millions, of data points to analyze. Even when campaign goals and KPIs are clearly defined, it can be difficult to immediately identify the more subtle and complex insights hiding within the numbers. That is where curiosity and creativity come into play – we start looking for whatever stories the data can tell.  

The Benefits of Using Curiosity in Your Data Analysis

Asking thoughtful questions and keeping an open mind about what you see in the data helps identify unexpected opportunities and avoid pre-existing biases in your analysis. This allows patterns to appear in the data and provide beneficial insights for future campaigns. No matter what kind of data you are working with, there is always a learning to uncover.

For example, perhaps you have a channel that is unexpectedly driving better sales numbers than others. Instead of broadly accepting the success of the campaign, investigate why that channel did well so you can apply those learnings and build on that success. Stretch your mind to stretch your data and let it come alive for your brand.  

Avoiding Analysis Paralysis

Anyone deeply entrenched in data analysis will know it is all too easy to get buried, and even lost, trying to extract every bit of intel from the data. And while we want to glean as much insight as possible, it can be difficult to know where to stop once you start down a rabbit hole in an effort to get every morsel of information. At some point, the return on that time investment will diminish and you’ll start coming to the same conclusions, just from different angles. 

It’s critical to strike a balance, understanding when it’s valuable to take more time to really dive into the numbers, asking a variety of questions before taking action on the insight. Quarterly reviews, post-campaign reporting, planning phases – these are all times when deep analysis and questioning of the status quo is beneficial. 

Guide Curiosity with Measurement

When you start to dig, the data can seem like an endless hole if you don’t know what you’re searching for. But if you root yourself in your overarching measurement strategy, centering on your business goals and each channel’s role in helping achieve that success, it will become much easier to determine if your media is working or not. 

It is always best to spend more time upfront talking through the strategy as a whole before you begin analysis. Then it will all come into play and be very easy. The amount of time you spend should be way more upfront than it is actually building out final data visualizations and dashboards. 

Key Takeaways

Curiosity and data analysis – yes, they do go together. Applying creativity and allowing space for human intuition and insights is key to data storytelling. But to be an effective and productive data analyst, you need to balance the art and science. Keep in mind what is and isn’t reasonable. Live for the data. Explore it and search for the stories that it weaves together. But, avoid investing your valuable time on a dark rabbit hole that leads nowhere.

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