Input Overload: Managing Mountains of Marketing Data


Wonderful Era of data

As consumers, we have never had access to as much information as we now have. Whether buying a car or selecting a service provider, in just a few clicks we can evaluate costs, benefits, features and reviews and then make good choices quickly. All this product information is readily available, easy to interpret, and quick to access. For consumers, more data typically equals better decisions.

For marketers, not so much.

As marketers, we have also never had this much information. From real-time updates and alerts from advertising campaigns to dashboards and reports showing all manner of statistics, we are assaulted with so many data points that making decisions becomes complicated and time-consuming. All this data is too readily available, tough to interpret, and constantly changing. More data equals more complexity.


The dangers of input overload

This ever-increasing flow of information has pitfalls we must be prepared to deal with.

Indecision - When faced with a broad array of options, we sometimes get stuck and cannot choose. Like a newbie at Starbucks holding up the line, overwhelmed by the number of options to the point of paralysis. Indecision is annoying at best and can be deadly at worst.

Impulsiveness - When subjected to a constant barrage of feedback we can have the impulse to act. Like a knee-jerk reaction, these movements are more or less involuntary. Allowing circumstances to dictate your actions instead of taking control and operating more strategically, can lead to costly mistakes or lost opportunities.

Micro Vision - When exposed to tiny details we are sometimes tempted to obsess, tweak and fiddle with unimportant matters, while potentially ignoring the big picture. Like the old forest for the trees scenario. The danger here is losing sight of your real goals and getting bogged down with busyness, instead of progress.   

Ignore - When presented with unpleasant circumstances, some have the instinct to close their eyes and hope the problem just goes away. Like the proverbial ostrich burying his head in the sand, hoping danger will just move along. Avoiding problems doesn't fix them, and ignored issues can often compound into even greater, more complicated problems.  

Disorientation - When submerged in a flood of information, you can lose track of your goals. Like a surfer tumbled by a wave, you can lose all points of reference and lose track of what direction is up. You may think you are heading toward the surface, but if you can't tell where it is, you will drown.



Deriving value from information

The amount of available data is increasing and this trend will likely hold. All this data can help us make better decisions, avoid bad choices, and be better marketers. It brings us closer to our customers, helping us understand their needs and interests. 

We spend a great deal of time learning how to access and use data, but it is equally important for us to learn to deal with it. For some it may be about learning to scan and pick out relevant info quickly, others may try automating certain processes or even just taking time every day to zoom out and make sure we are seeing the whole picture.

Just make sure the data is adding value to your process and not simply adding to your workload.