When I think about data, I am reminded of what my statistics professor used to say. He would constantly urge us to hand him “solid numbers on a page, since everything else is just an opinion.” Indeed, statistics and facts are what drives the decisions of humanity. Don’t believe me? Take your upcoming vacation to Costa Rica. To determine whether you need bikinis or rain jackets, you will likely pull up data around last year’s weather patterns, right? Or what about that house you are planning to buy. To determine how much houses in the area typically go for, you will likely do a search of other nearby listings. Essentially, data is the stuff of life. We use it, seek it, and share it.

Digital marketing is no exception. The use of data in digital marketing paints a better picture of consumers, as well as their needs and expectations. I’ve gathered up some examples below to help highlight what role data plays in digital marketing:

Big Data- You’ve likely heard this term get thrown around a cocktail party, but what does it really mean? Big data consists of detailed, exhaustive information which if analyzed, can predict future patterns. Essentially, big data is the code that digital marketing is trying to crack. Various firms are already dabbling in algorithms that will allow to assess one’s internet browsing history to tailor the ads that pop up. Talk about mind reading.

Decision Making- Apologies to all the creative types that “go with their gut” or “just have a feeling.” Data helps determine whether it is a yes or a no. Indeed, data helps make clear cut decisions around how best to roll out a product, what the customer expects, and how to position a specific campaign. The numbers indicate the expectations and needs of customers, which can allow for tailored and powerful marketing campaigns.

Safety Net- Forget about that you are a people person, or that you are friendly with industry bigwigs. In digital marketing, data acts as a safety net which helps mitigate issues when things go wrong, so you don’t need to rely on other means of support. With data in hand, you can take a step back and really ask yourself whether you know your audience and can reach out to them. If all else fails, you will always have the numbers and statistics to reconvene and rebuild.

Success in digital marketing and frankly, in many other realms, largely depends on the ability to