How to get creative people to engage with analytics

Dealing with internal silos between teams that manage data and those who would most benefit from its insight? Chief commercial officer of automated analytics platform, Incites, Shaun Alexander looks at how to address this industry-wide issue.

We have been taught to believe that people can be put into one of two boxes – creative or analytical.

Creative people use intuition to shape their view of the world, while analytical people apply hard evidence and logic to guide their decisions. Yet in the world of marketing, creativity needs data to be relevant, and logic needs empathy to be relatable. Words and numbers can be friends.

Unfortunately, in most organisations the creative and content teams operate in relative isolation from the data teams. In larger companies they often operate within separate agencies further blurring lines of communication.

Breaking down these silos to blend analytical and creative thinking within your teams will deliver huge benefits to your organisation.

Data sparks creativity

We are well past the point of data saturation. We track and measure everything, making it difficult to know what should be actioned and what is just noise that should be ignored. In a world of automated optimisation, it is really easy to miss the most useful insights as we are so focussed on the clearest path to campaign victory.

But there is creative inspiration scattered all through our data if we stop to smell the digital roses before the algorithms tell us what we want to hear.

So what sort of data signals should creative teams be looking for within their analytics systems?

The real gold is buried within the anomalies of the data – the sudden spikes, the unexpected outcomes, the unusual trends, a new demographic. It is the surprises and incorrect assumptions that tell you there is something interesting to investigate and new creative angles to explore.

Customers seldom follow the brief

If everything always went to plan, most of us who work in a marketing capacity wouldn’t be needed. Businesses would sell things and customers would buy them. The only problem is that people don’t always follow the script.

In any given campaign, creative and content creation teams are exposed to data and insights at two points. First, during the pre-campaign strategy briefing, and then, if they are lucky, as part of the post-campaign “what went wrong” session. Once a campaign goes live it’s the other silo’s role to make it work and attention goes on to the next job.

But the first few days of a campaign’s life are when creative teams should be most engaged with the data. The most interesting insights rear their heads once you get real people interacting with what you have created. It’s all guess-timation and hope casting until then. Ensuing that your content creators and creative teams are plugged into the real time campaign data gives them enough time to react to any unexpected insights and influence the outcome.

Reactive content is most effective during the current news cycle or in the early stages of a new trend. Timing is everything.

Does it need to be another dashboard?

It’s one thing to sell the benefits of analytics to your creative teams, but how do you actually get them to engage with it on a day-to-day basis?

Like with most things in life, you need to make it easy. You will always be disappointed if you expect people are going to be proactive about learning and regularly log in to another complicated technology platform when it’s not in their natural wheelhouse. The challenge in getting people to engage with analytics is not about the quality of the data, it’s the user experience.

Almost every analytics platform ends with a dashboard. These are typically busy screens resembling aeroplane control panels that try to visualise everything you might want to know, in a convenient, single view. This may be useful for holistic analysis, but it is not ideal when you are trying to find specific insights that are going to make a material difference to the outcome of the piece of work that’s in front of you.

If you want people within your organisation who are not trained in data analysis to embrace analytics, you have to get the insights out from behind the dashboard in front of them as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

It’s all in the delivery

AI has revolutionised our ability to process data into actionable insights and deliver them to the people who need them. Gone are the days of requiring your data analysts to manually process every request they are given. It is now possible to completely personalise the discovery and distribution of insights in real time.

Content producers and creative teams have the ability to receive notifications the minute the data shows that there is something that needs their attention. These can be configured around individual pieces of content or campaign line items. Everyone who has worked on them receives the same insight at the same time, breaking down the silos that exist between teams and agencies.

By making it relevant and easy to consume, there is no reason why data can’t be a creative’s greatest asset.


Shaun Alexander is the chief commercial officer of automated analytics platform, Incites.


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