How Too Much Data Can KILL Your Success

Posted by Paul Korzeniowski on February 14, 2024

It's funny how much importance humans place on numbers. The statement, "40 percent of users spend more time on our web pages since the redesign,” seems much more authoritative than “the new web page design is working.” Why? Numbers seem precise, authoritative, and scientific. Yet, this perception often leads content marketers to an overreliance on statistics, where they reach inaccurate conclusions and waste time. Finding the right balance is critical to effective sales lead generation. 

Remember the old days when companies had only a handful of metrics and little to no insight into what their clients did? Well, those days are long gone. Nowadays, marketers have oodles of information at their disposal. They now know when clients log onto their website and each click they take from start to finish. 

Data Overload: More is too much

As a result, companies are awash in data, and the volumes are rapidly rising. A Statista report found the amount of global data is slated to reach 180 zettabytes by 2025. To add context to the numbers, a zettabyte equals 1 trillion Gigabytes of data. 

So, that change dramatically impacts how companies try to entice potential customers into trying and buying their products. Marketers now immerse themselves in the growing volume of numbers at their disposal. They spend more and more time collecting, correlating, slicing, and dicing data points. They seem to be chasing the elusive goal of capturing, analyzing, and understanding what every consumer thinks every second in each step of their unique customer journey. Next, they plan to draw straight lines between a few data points, raise a few Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and create perfect marketing campaigns. 

A marketer overwhelmed by data.

However, problems arise.  Eventually, the numbers overwhelm the sales process. Data analytics are tools to enhance marketing. They are not marketing incarnate. But increasingly, many do not seem to recognize the difference. As a result, companies and individuals find themselves drowning in information. 

  • Eight in 10 (80%) people experience information overload.

  • More than a quarter (27%) access 11 or more accounts, resources, tools, and apps daily.

  • A typical knowledge worker turns to e-mail 50 to 100 times a day.

  • End Result? Information overload costs the U.S. economy $900 billion a year.

So, the question becomes: Are enterprises getting a good return on their data analytics investments? In many cases, no.

Marketers spend too much time parsing data analytics

In some instances, companies lose sight of what interests the client. Instead, they become consumed with what their competitors are doing. Therefore, they chase windmills and try to enhance their solutions in ways that typically, the customer has little to no interest in. How many sales email notifications are ignored? Does anyone really need a new word-processing font? Most marketing companies obsess about raising their SEO score by .01.

The cliché of losing the forest for the trees applies here. The reality is that numbers are inanimate objects. Frankly, life is not linear, orderly, and predictable. Instead, it is messy and goes in many different directions. Also, correlation does not equal causation. Just because two numbers align does not substantiate that one causes the other.    

Marketer throwing a clock into the trash

More importantly, time is a zero-sum game. The more time expended on one activity, the less available for another. As marketing gurus delve deeper and deeper into numbers, they move further and further away from what interests their clients. 

In many cases, companies take a “Me First” outlook and try to force a decision by sending out more enticements, emails, and phone calls. However, badgering drives customers away from, rather than toward, you. Also, the overloading does not put them in a buying mood. As evidence, 76% of US consumers felt that information overload contributes to their daily stress.

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Less data analysis generates higher sales

The reality is that customers want less, not more. Most consumers feel overwhelmed by the volume of data they encounter. Most people avoid risk and become intimidated by the barrage of numbers. The Jolt Effect outlines how customers have so many choices that they feel overwhelmed and fear picking the wrong thing. (This is just as true with B2B customers.)  How do they cope? They decide not to buy and put off the decision. In fact, 40% to 60% of all lost sales are due to prospects feeling overwhelmed and being unable to make a decision. 

Someone performing data analysis.

There are many instances where simpler has proven to be much more effective. Google did an exemplary job of positioning itself as the leader in search. Its search home page is free of clutter. Less than 10 simple, innocuous items are on the page. The only item of any prominence is the word Google. On special days, the folks at Google dress it up with a simple, often clever graphic celebrating a holiday but nothing else. Compare that to other web pages you have seen. Users must scroll seemingly endlessly and avert pop-ups jumping out at them every few seconds to find what they want.

How to apply this insight

So, where should you go from here? It depends: Some companies must pare down their analytics and focus on only a few important data points, while others need to engage with customers more simply and meaningfully. In one last case, enterprises need to refocus: Talk to clients more about what they need and less about the numbers that drive the enterprise’s internal KPIs.

3 strategies for different situations: Which one matches you?

  1. Focus on only the most important data points.

  2. Engage with your customers in simple, meaningful ways.

  3. Enterprises need to refocus on meeting client needs quickly.

If you need to focus on the most important data points, the next step is to discover which data points are most important and then implement a strategy to allocate resources to them.

If you need to engage customers in simple, meaningful ways, you must discover what messaging is most meaningful to them and simplify your content to bring that messaging into focus for them.

If you work for an enterprise, you need to find ways to talk to your clients, understand which needs your content and products are meeting, and streamline the speed at which you can deliver those. 

We’d love to help you map out what’s possible and share insights on how other companies have found success implementing these three strategies. Book a 30 minute planning session to take the next step forward!

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Paul Korzeniowski

Paul Korzeniowski is a seasoned business content producer, a leading voice in the IT community, and an expert in important technologies, such as marketing systems, application development, cloud, security, the Internet of Things, and mobile solutions. During his career, he’s published more than 1 million words and 10,000 articles appearing in publications like Fortune, Forbes, and Entrepreneur.

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