When we are looking for business insights that are answers we often have some hypothesis or at least an idea in mind when we look at it. If instead, we look a little deeper and uncover data insight questions we are challenging it. Both approaches can be valuable for marketers.
When we look at our data for insights are we looking for answers or are we looking for questions?
I think these are two very different things and both are equally valuable to business.
When we are looking for business insights that are answers we often have some hypothesis or at least an idea in mind when we look at it. We are considering an aspect of the business and we are looking for facts and figures to prove something or find something out.
When we ask further questions we are looking for business insights that might challenge the hypothesis. We look a level deeper for what might not be obvious from the outcome. And potentially consider is there a different hypothesis that we could test in the future.
Consider this example
A retailer might want to be looking at sales data to know hat items were the best contributors to the bottom-line last year. Wanting to know what item sold the most (let’s say it was red sweaters) and which had highest margin (let’s say black shoes). With this answer should they then make this year’s inventory contain a lot of red sweaters and black shoes? Possibly.
Or… Does looking at these facts bring up further data insight questions?
Was red a colour that trended last year? What is the trend this year? Did we have supply line issues with blue sweaters and rarely had them in stock, available for people to buy? Was the great margin on black shoes a one-time supplier deal that is still in effect? Are we able to capture which product was most requested by our customers, whether we stocked it or not?
This may lead us to look at the data again for answers to these questions.
We might want to dig a little deeper to find out what might have influenced customers buying decisions. Or we might want to change the data points we capture. In the above example, possibly start collecting items searched on our eCommerce website.
There might be times when there is a direct answer to the initial question. We might have a standing discount with the supplier of black shoes. And it’s such a standard item, people buy it. So let’s note it as the margin leader and move on and dive into questioning the second highest.
The point is we should always question our data for further insight.
While we are swimming in data these days, at the same time we can never have enough. Or maybe I should say we never have enough quality data. There may be some question we hadn’t thought of before that the data just doesn’t answer.
I have a process where I do a debrief of things I do. Launches. Campaigns. Courses or webinars. Even key meetings, especially those that are discovery sessions.
I capture the key points of what happened. The story. Then I co through a series of reflections. What was the outcome. What did I learn. What went well. What didn’t go well. I then include a section I call “What still puzzles me”. What wasn’t learnt that could bring greater insight.
When I’m done I then identify things I want to do as a result. Maybe buy those red sweaters again. Or start tracking unfilled customer requests. The “what still puzzles me” question can even feed into the design of my next launch or campaign. Something new to test.
What still puzzles you?
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