In the world of PPC, data is king. You need it, you use it, and it guides every decision big or small. Yet, wrangling your data is like climbing a mountain. It often requires immense effort, specialized tools, and the grit to see it through. Lacking any of these is a recipe for disaster, but often it’s not until we’re halfway into our climb that decisions made during the planning stages can start to impede our progress.
We’re often in a hurry to get our data into reports and into stakeholder’s hands. Sometimes we lack the technical expertise or money or both for the solutions that would best serve us. Often we simply lack the time to carefully understand our problems and vet possible solutions. This can lead to poor product fit for the problem we have and wasted time.
But, it doesn’t have to be like this. No matter your resources the first step is understanding your needs and taking the time to consider what solution might work best for your situation. Note that I did not say the best technical solution or the most expensive solution. Often we get enamored with tech wizardry and forget to consider our own abilities and resources leading to a fancy solution that doesn’t actually work for us.
So how do we arrive at a plan and figure out possible solutions? It starts with understanding the problem you are trying to solve.
Anyone who has worked in PPC long enough is well versed in the amount of data that is present and the struggle to make sense of it. You’re in a constant battle of exporting data from multiple sources (Google, Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) and trying to make sense of it in some type of reporting format. Often it involves you trying to store it in some place like a spreadsheet or database.
Getting the data, storing the data, and reporting on it are usually constant struggles at all places small and large. Ad networks go down, spreadsheets crash, and reports run slow leading to many headaches all around.
Seeing the frustration and the wasted time that comes from these issues, teams often see a problem and want to find new solutions. This is often a good idea, but a team needs to know its own capabilities, resources, and priorities when figuring out solutions.
In short, they need the proper mindset.
The proper mindset starts with an honest assessment of your team’s capabilities, resources, and priorities in relation to the data and analytics problem you’re trying to solve. It’s too easy to get enamored with fancy tech and tools without having a good understanding of what you actually need to solve your problem.
It’s here that teams often end up with really nice tools that don’t actually help them or worse create even more work.
So how do you develop the proper mindset? Here are some starter questions:
- Time available – Data and analytics work can be very time-intensive. Is your team able to dedicate people full time to this work? If not, how much time can they dedicate?
- Skillset – The rabbit hole on data and analytics goes very deep. It can start with some manual exporting and basic pivot tables in a spreadsheet and end with importing gigabytes of data into cloud databases and lots of custom coding. What skills does your team have and what types of skills can they use to tackle problems?
- Control vs. ease – Often the solutions that give you the most control involve the most time and specialized skill, those that provide the most ease and speed lack the ability to control. What do you value and need more of?
- You’ll need someone to maintain it – Maybe that’s the provider, maybe it’s a 3rd party vendor, maybe it’s your team. What is best for your team?
These 4 questions can get your team thinking about what it really has the capability to do. Once you’ve assessed what internal resources your team has to use a tool, you can more fully consider which one works the best.
Data is hard. Getting it, storing it, and manipulating it is hard. It requires work, patience, and know-how. It also often requires extra help in the form of tools. Not all teams can handle all tools which is why an honest assessment of a team’s abilities is paramount. With the right understanding of the problem and the development of a proper mindset, your team will be well on its way to finding fixes instead of creating problems.