In survey after survey, marketers report both “needing more data” and “being overwhelmed by data.” Most companies seem to respond by adding new tools to the mix, thinking up ways to get more data, or spinning up servers to get the data “all in one place.” None of this helps.
Marketers do not need more measurements – they need a better understanding of the data.
This is a moment to slow down and think, not speed up and flash the first answers that come to mind. It’s our prediction and our hope for the sanity of marketers that brands in 2024 will pare down their Martech stack to begin actively deploying causal reasoning.
Causal reasoning is not a tool or something that can be automated on a dashboard. It’s a skill honed by data scientists to explain “why.” It’s a combination of statistics, logic and reasoning. With causal reasoning (acting on data) you can get answers to hard questions like “how much lower would sales have been last year if we did not run the broadcast TV campaigns?”
While dashboards focus on telling you what happened, causal reasoning uses creativity and statistics to tell you what could have happened. By comparing what could have happened to what did happen, markets can improve and marketers can begin looking forward with a clearer sense of predictability.
Why will 2024 be a watershed?
- The big brands that were obsessed with getting all their data in one place (the data lake boom Azure, AWS, Snowflake, etc.), many of them should have neared the end of that project, or gotten close enough to realize that bringing two USB sticks closer together does not magically make the data better.
- There’s real dissonance growing among marketers on whether or not more data will help. We see it in survey results and in our own work. Marketers seem more and more receptive to the idea that they don’t need more tables of data with prettier graphs; they need something else.
- With higher interest rates, there’s a greater focus on sales now and less focus on long-term investments in products or customer bases.