Does Data Stifle Creativity?

No. And I could end the blog there, but I won’t. Of course the danger with data is that we become over reliant upon it and use it to make all of our decisions. Some of the best ads of 2015 came about from a ‘big creative idea’ rather than what the data told them to do. For example, Comcast Xfinity’s “Emily’s Oz” advert delved into the mind of a 7 year old blind girl and bought her visions to life. A pure creative vision which proved brilliant. Some are dubious that data can occupy the same realm as this. Others see how creative thinking and data intelligence combined are a powerful marketing force.


Simon Morris, Adobe states, “the closer you move data to the heart of your planning, the clearer it becomes that human creativity needs to sit right alongside it”. It is not enough to simply have a ‘big creative idea’ anymore. It used to be the case that you would agonise over the exact placement of an image or the exact wording of a slogan and only find out if your efforts had paid off after the campaign had gone live. By this time, it was far too late to make any changes if the creative was wrong.

Now it is possible to modify, re-design and start again with campaigns once the campaigns have gone live. The most common way of doing this is by utilising A/B testing. This can be found in many email marketing automation tools, with most paid social updates and can be set up manually by your marketing team. This kind of testing allows you to review everything before releasing the full campaign. Jeremy Ellens highlights 4 of the basics for A/B testing in his blog for hubspot.

This commitment to testing rather than dampening creativity actually allows marketers to become far more creative. It requires the marketer to use their intuition and knowledge of their audiences to design the email, social post or tagline that they have been tasked with producing. Ultimately you can run all of the A/B testing you wish but if you don’t fully understand your customer and don’t use that knowledge to form an idea that resonates with them it is useless.

It all sounds so simple, except if you’re not entirely sure who your customers are and how they behave. There’s that niggling voice at the back of the head saying something like, “are you sure that’s the kind of person who buys from us?” We’ve all been there, doubting ourselves and wondering if we’re just projecting our own preferences onto our perceived personas. This is where customer insights can help you out. Data quality and customer insights enrich your data, removing any guesswork and allowing you to move forward in evidence based creativity.

Find out more about gaining customer understanding with our WhitePaper: Six Stages to Transforming Data Quality, Structure and Management

Tags: Data Management Customer Insight Marketing

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