Data-Driven Decisions

February 19, 2021 | By Paul Mackenzie Ross | Filed in: philosophy.

If there’s one thing Boris Johnson has gotten right it’s his latest statement on data-driven decisions.

Yesterday, in answer to calls to end lockdown, the Prime Minister said the approach to easing would be based upon “data not dates”.

The PM’s stance is encouraging on many levels, and also draws parallels with the business and digital world. The two significant takeaways here are:

  1. Business and digital marketing decisions should be data-led.
  2. Leaders should listen to experts.

That’s not to say we should ignore our gut or “hunches”, because when they too are from data-led sources or experts with years of experience, insight and expertise, then their hunches are based on good track-records.

That’s the reason why we should rely on data and the experts both who understand and know what to do with the data.

For example, as a former graphic designer, having an understanding and appreciation of typography, if I see a design of white letters on a dark background, and a lot of capital letters used in a design, my professional opinion is this:

Light on dark is hard to read unless you’ve specifically chosen put your device into “dark mode”. Capital letters are hard to read, particularly in long sentences, like sub-headings or swathes of copy.

See for yourself in a Google search of light on dark hard to read or capital letters hard to read and see the wealth of insights upon which to draw your own conclusions.

From this understanding, I would expect a “light on dark” design, of a website for instance, to show up these in the data. If white on dark blue text is hard to read and it is capitalised in large chunks, then the Google Analytics data will reflect this in shorter average time on the website, higher bounce rates and fewer pages per session for instance.

So, as Boris Johnson for once quite rightly said, “data not dates”. Base you opinions and direction on the data not any bluster or uneducated gut, and use your experience or the experts to help you decipher that data and drive your project forward. Only then will it be more of a success than on “I like the look of it” alone.


Paul Mackenzie Ross is a digital marketing manager, data analyst and SEO consultant, former project manager graphic & web designer. With over 20 years experience in digital, Paul’s data-driven approach with a broad understanding of the digital gets results.


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