How To Avoid Data Nightmares – And Other Takeaways from Netroots Nation 2015

How To Avoid Data Nightmares – And Other Takeaways from Netroots Nation 2015

Many of us know this story all too well: you meet with your boss to explain the investment you want, the analytics behind the numbers and the expected results. You are confident that you have made a strategic recommendation based on the best data available.  And then, in an instant, you realize that everything will not go as you planned. Instead of using data, your boss wants to go with his or her gut, rather than the metrics.

For those of us who work in data and analytics, this is a nightmare scenario.

So how can you avoid this type of setback? We need better metrics. We need better ways to tell a story and make our case.

Just because we have a lot of metrics at our disposal doesn’t mean that it’s easy to always narrow in on the right ones.  Impressions, clicks, viewthroughs, mutes; there’s no end to the amount of data that we have at our fingertips.  Working with our clients to help them figure out what the most useful data is, and how to use it to make decisions, becomes a key part of our work.

I spoke about this challenge during a panel at Netroots Nation with some colleagues from across the progressive space. Together, we discussed how important it is to be able to measure the impact of a campaign in a deeper way – by using better metrics that capture the effects of our campaign on the attitudes and opinions of the people our campaign is reaching.

Traditional methods of measurement, like polling, aren’t suited to produce the metrics that we need, because it can’t easily reach the people that our campaigns are.  We knew we needed a better way.

At BPI, we do this through a tool we built called Vantage, which helps us create those metrics.  It helps us understand the opinions of the exact people who saw our content by measuring how much our message changed their minds.  By doing so, we know how well our programs are working – simple as that.  And it means that we aren’t letting the evaluations of our program get lost in the sea of measurement that takes place in a traditional poll without knowing what is and isn’t working.

Vantage’s metrics help us have a better conversation with our bosses about the most data-driven way to achieve their goals. Whether that is getting to 51% of the vote or changing the public’s mind about an important issue, we want to do it in the most effective, efficient way.  Vantage helps us move past the mass of numbers that describe clicks, views, mutes, or completions – which don’t help us measure the things we need to measure.

Now, more than ever, it is important to make sure we know how to talk about the data and why it matters to the overall strategy. That should keep some of the nightmares away, I hope.