Analytics   |   August 25, 2016

The Bull & The Bear: Riding The Markets of Real-Time Data

A 3 minute read by Sean Ryan, Senior Manager, Search & Analytics

In the stock market, investors know how to set aside their emotions and play the long-term game—whether they deal with a bull or bear market. In traditional Wall Street speak, a bull market occurs during positive growth when investors are full of optimism and opportunity. A more pessimistic bear market happens during a bad economy with declining stocks. Just like on Wall Street, it’s a gamble to know how your data will play out in the long run.

Investors have learned the skill of monitoring stocks in real-time and not overreacting to sudden shifts and shocks. With a long-term strategy in mind, they patiently hang back and make steady, logical decisions rather than focus only on immediate results.

Many marketers, on the other hand, treat real-time marketing data exactly the opposite. Thanks to better technology and tools, access to real-time marketing data can help companies but also hinder them. Platforms like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights have become like a real-time stock ticker for marketers.

An example will illustrate the issue. Company A spent money on various marketing efforts from paid media to email marketing. Obsessively, they started looking at real-time marketing data from day one. During the first week, they panicked. Why were sales so low? Locking in on sales and tracking it nearly every minute, they wondered why they didn’t see sales spike immediately—deeming their marketing efforts a failure before they had a chance to work.

Are you guilty of a similar reaction to your real-time data? What can marketers learn from time-tested stock market strategies? To keep your cool, consider the following tips.

1. Understand your data.

Even if you have a marketing team or agency helping you make sense of complex data, you need to understand exactly what data you’re examining. We have more information now than ever, but you need to understand things such as the real-time context, historicity, and meaning behind the numbers. For example, if you’re obsessed with Facebook Analytics for no other reason than wanting lots of engagement then that real-time data may have no real-time meaning.

2. Set long-term strategic goals.

Similar to the stock market, you need long-term marketing goals based on a sound strategy. Then you can use real-time data for monitoring and adjustment around your strategy. For example, you may set a target to increase sales by 100% over a year. Panicking on day two after implementing your new marketing strategy would be ridiculous. Instead, you monitor your real-time data over the year to make adjustments as needed. Just like on Wall Street, you have to be able to see the big picture along with monitoring the day-to-day data you’re receiving.

4. Do not use real-time data as an emotional decision-making tool.

Keep your decision-making strategic. Going back to our sales example above, it’s easy to make emotional decisions, especially when money is on the line. It’s like watching a stock go down one day and selling immediately when that stock might actually perform well over a quarter. By setting a sound strategy, you avoid emotional, reactive decisions based on impulse rather than long-term intuition.

5. Remain holistic.

Your real-time data helps give your team an overall picture of your company’s marketing health and progress. After setting a strategy, keep an eye on all channels, all marketing activities, and all relevant metrics that impact your business goals. See the big picture and how all the moving parts are working together to generate your results. In the end, your outlook and how you react is just as important as the data you’re collecting.