Your guts or the data?

/ / Digital Advertising / 6 May 2022

How do you strike the balance between what the data tells you and what feels right for a brand?

Our purpose at The Wired Agency is to Move Digitally. Humanly where we’re the intersection of data, human behaviour and creativity.  And if we get it right, it’s an unstoppable formula.  

But how do we get it right?  

It’s not always that easy. 

We recently had a social media client whereby a post on Instagram; one that really didn’t fit within the new brand identity we were trying to create (but one that represents where the brand is at today – an important part of our program for now), generated more than 4 x the engagement compared to three months of prior ‘on brand’ posts.  

Completely organic.  No boosting or paid amplification.

This of course tells us this post resonated with our client’s audience 4 x times more than the posts that were purposely ‘on brand’.  

Was it just a fluke?  We wanted to test this just to make sure.  And sure enough, another four posts in the similar vein to the first, delivered record high social engagements.  

So what do we do with this info?

Do we shift what we’re doing to focus only on what the data is telling us and win the engagement race or do we try to strike a balance between what works for the existing audience and what ‘feels’ right for the direction we’re taking and one that may work to grow the community?  After all, growth is a top priority for most clients right?

I was reading a really interesting article via Linkedin recently about this very topic and found what they said about Chip Wilson, Founder of Lululemon, really poignant.

He believes we have a “cultural bias toward quantifiable data” and “it can be tricky to trust decisions made based on your body’s own process for interpreting the information around you: your gut.” As the LinkedIn article points out – Wilson suggests that intuition is actually the algorithms of your body synthesising millions of data points each day.

So maybe we should trust our intuition more than anything else?   

We can’t arrive at a resolution around this dilemma without considering the bigger brand picture.  What’s the strategy here?  What direction are we taking the brand?  How important is it that we engage with the existing audience if attracting new/different demographics is the priority?  

Perhaps we adopt a ratio rule between data and what feels right, so that one doesn’t outweigh the other until such a time when the new brand direction is the only thing we want to focus on?  

Although not directly related, it reminds me of the brand marketing vs conversion marketing debate.  The 60:40 rule.  

Let’s look at this for a moment.  

During the pandemic, some brands distanced themselves from what would be considered ‘brand marketing’ and heavily weighted their budget towards conversation marketing.  Why?  Because they were understandably shit scared of what the future held and wanted to create as many financial buffers as possible.

But there was a fundamental issue with this move.  Brands lost brand-equity.  Ones that weren’t about value, became value based brands.  Experience-led brands became transactional.  And their historical investment on the brand was at threat of becoming dust in the wind.

So what brands learned is that both brand and conversion marketing are mutually exclusive.  Too much of one and not the other impacts growth.  There needs to be a healthy balance between brand and conversion activity.  Some marketers will say it should be 60:40 ratio for budget split.

Perhaps the same theory/formula could be applied to the above.  Strike a balance between how much reliance you place on data and use your human’ness to apply that ‘hard to describe but it’s right’ feel.  

Then there’s creative…is it on brand?  Well if it engages with the existing audience, maybe it’s ok to have this featured on the brand’s channels.  But it can’t be all this if the objective is to grow the channels and attract new audiences.

Author, Michelle Hampton, Managing Partner


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