Give Data A Chance: How to Convey the Importance of Data to Stakeholders

Data can be impactful for your company ... but only if you can get people to care about it.

-Me (Kevin Rutter).

You can have the simplest, most digestible reports of all-time...complete with fancy graphs, unicorns, and neon signs, but if your stakeholders don’t see the value in basing their decisions in data, you’ve already lost.  Not only will reporting be a wasted effort on their end, but it will also waste your own time to provide these insights. So, how do you get people to care about data?

To get the most value from your data, it should be tied back to your stakeholders’ goals, make their jobs easier, and impact their bottom line. Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple…

There are some pretty tricky additional obstacles to overcome on the way. Luckily, there are actionable steps you can take to tackle each one at a time.

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Ugh. Just the sound of that phrase makes me cringe. This is never a good excuse to keep doing anything, as you should constantly be evolving your methods based on what the situation needs to improve. However, this is a still a powerful obstacle business professionals often face, as routines are tough to break, and change is hard for everyone!

How to overcome this: Show them the value of how data can help them, and slowly change their old habits into newer, better ones. This won’t happen right away, but slowly integrating data into their jobs in small ways can work wonders. You could start this process by finding what’s most important to your stakeholders, building data behind that, and moving from there. What questions does your boss' boss ask him or her? By finding out what he or she needs to show value, you can help them by using data to show the impact of your work - which will ultimately help them as well! 

1097_Blog Graphic_Obstacle-2

Cool story, person who has no actual evidence to back-up their point.

How to Overcome: Reason with this person that using data will give them a better long-term impact based on small, short-term results. Show that their gut instinct can still be valuable, but data can help them ensure it’s accurate. Running a CTA test on your website? A business leader may say that adding an image will engage their users. But with data, you can actually show them whether this addition correlates with a change in user behavior on the website.

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This one is a bit more delicate, as that person’s experience is certainly important. But, what if there’s a better way?

How to Overcome: Learn how to integrate their experience with data to utilize the best of both worlds. “Nice! What if your awesome experience and this kick-ass data team up and make an unstoppable team of real-life experience based on actual results? Wouldn’t that be sweet?” -You, Integrating Data Into Your Company’s Culture Like It’s Nothing.  For example, if your boss advocates for old school public relations efforts, pull up your website's referral data to see if which links and mentions in online publications drive the most new business for your company!

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Sometimes a company simply doesn’t have the money to invest in massive new data collection shifts - or even the money to act on the data’s results.

How to Overcome: Start off small. Once you can show the power and results of your data-suggested changes, build it up. Track the changes made with data to results, backing into the return the user gets on their analytics. If you can show they’re making money here and positively improving their business, that’s a great start!

1097_Blog Graphic_Obstacle-5 Now this one’s a little bit more tricky because you could have all of the four previous obstacles tied up in the same bundle. Eek! But, if you are aiming to do big things with data, you’ll ultimately need someone at the Exec level to make it happen.

How to Overcome: Show them your long-term vision of how data can impact the company’s bottom line. Lay out a clear plan for how data can integrate with the company’s current structure, and add value. Start off with small steps as to what your data can do, while still focusing on how it can help improve the company in the long-term.

How to target specific areas with data improvements

Let’s not stop there! There are further ways we can overcome these obstacles, together!

Everyone has things they want to accomplish with their job. If you want to get buy in for someone to care about data, show how it can tie back to what they want to accomplish.

  • Marketing: use multi-channel attribution and campaigns reports to show how recent marketing efforts have performed
  • Social media: leverage assisted conversions to show the long-term impact of social channels
  • Paid search: tie geographical results and AdWords linking together to uncover potential targeting opportunities
  • IT: use site speed and technology reports to uncover opportunities for improvement and potential critical issues
  • Merchandising: use enhanced ecommerce to show which products and categories are performing best

By tieing data back to the recipient's goals, you can make their job easier with data. By providing new insights, you can give them value in their day-to-day work. Score!

Understand the stakeholder's bottom line

Another way to make their job easier is to show how data can impact their bottom line. If goals and goal values are properly set, and you can tie them back to their area, this is a recipe for success. Simply put, if your data can help someone get their raise or bonus, that certainly helps!

If you achieve short-term buy-in, aim for the long-term as well. While techniques for short-term buy-in also apply to the long-term, there are long-term specific tactics.

A self-evident tactic of showing the long-term value of data is going beyond the session scope. Through user-level segments, multi-channel attribution, assisted conversions, and cohort analysis, you can tie data to long-term efforts. One of the largest long-term tactics is building out a digestible and actionable reporting structure that makes recurring data simple (and immediately helpful) to the end user.

If you take these steps to get data buy-in and overcome these obstacles, you can ensure that your whole company is data integrated, and you’ll have an impact across your entire business.

What obstacles have you faced in your business to get data buy-in? What tactics have you found effective to overcome these obstacles? Add your comments below, and best of luck in developing a company data driven mindset!


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