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Are You Data Greedy?

There’s no denying that marketers are passionate about data. But can too much of a good thing turn bad? Marketers’ constant hunt for insight can make them data greedy or data hoarders.

Data hoarders are marketers who accumulate as much data as possible, but they don’t know what to do with it, according to John Squire, president of e-commerce cloud software company eCommera. Marketers who are data greedy hold onto their accumulation of data and keep it all to themselves. What marketers should strive to be, he says, are data businessmen.

“The data businessmen are the ones who look at [the data] and say, ‘What values can I get from this, and how do I share it was as many people as possible to be more successful than [my competitors]?’” Squire says.

Here are seven types of data that marketers prone to data hoarding and data greed will ask for but don’t really need.


Site and brand surveys can be an annoyance for marketers and customers. Besides being too long, many surveys contain open fields, says Martin Kihn, research director for research firm Gartner’s marketing leader practice. Analyzing these fields, he says, can be time consuming and require sophisticated text analytics technology. But for companies that can’t shake the survey addiction, Kihn advises asking a maximum of three questions that only derive quantitative responses.


Whether online or through email marketers are obsessed with clicks. And while tracking this easy-to-collect metric is a time-honored tradition, the data isn’t very telling, notes Tom Sather, senior director of email research for email intelligence solution provider Return Path. “The click is great for counting conversions, but does little to build a brand or tell us why they are clicking,” he says.


The constant counting of page views, Facebook likes, and email subscribers can make marketing seem like a giant popularity contest. However, Sather says that—like clicks—this information isn’t insightful on its own. Instead, he suggests looking at competitive data, such as a company’s subscriber list, engagement, and purchases relative to its competitors. “By comparing email audience data, marketers can get a much clearer picture [of] where they stand and where they’re moving,” Sather says. “Clicks and audience size are great to measure, but unfortunately, it’s all relative.”


Marketers track site traffic because it’s comprehensible and easy to collect, Kihn says. But once marketers collect this data, they can’t act on it, he argues. A marketer may see that his company’s site traffic is down, but the data doesn’t tell him why it’s down. Instead of looking at data at the aggregate level, Kihn advises marketers to whittle their insight down to the individual, or at least segmented, level.


Marketers shouldn’t ask questions they know the answer to. Soliciting consumers’ ZIP Codes when marketers already have access to them via IP addresses can make website experiences more irksome than they need to be, says Scott Arenstein, partner and account director for creative digital agency Hello Design. To further cut back on extra steps, marketers can auto-populate information asked for via online forms via social registrations.


Unless you’re really going to use them, Arenstein says asking for birthdates sets the expectation that marketers will use this information to send consumers timely gifts or coupons. “This is something marketers should stay away from unless they plan to follow through,” he says.


Many consumers aren’t willing to provide their phone number because it makes them feel as if they no longer control the buying process, says Scott Bryden, management supervisor for marketing agency Gage. Instead of pining for customers’ numbers, Bryden suggests asking for email addresses. Email facilitates a two-way conversation, he says, while still putting customers in the driver’s seat. It also provides a more effective means of qualifying leads before a call. “Make [giving a phone number] optional,” Bryden says. “That way you’ll only get numbers from people who truly consider themselves prospects.”

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