By one 2016 count, 90 percent of the world’s data had been created in the previous two years alone. This data hoard is only poised to grow in the years to come as more aspects of life move online and onto devices. Marketers have been able to capitalize on this surge almost from the start. With more insights into consumers and messaging influence reach, marketers have a wealth of information they can leverage to speak to their customers in the most effective and efficient way possible. But what exactly does it mean to be a data-driven marketer today? I polled some marketing experts across a number of verticals to get their take on how data has impacted their strategies.

Data-driven Means Infusing Art with Science

“Being a data-driven marketer means being both an artist and an analyst. You’re essentially critiquing your own art at on a daily basis, so it really means having a thick skin to be able to unbiasedly ask, ‘Did this work? Why or why not?’ day in and day out. I’m on a very small team so it really means owning up to mistakes and learning quickly.”
Kathryn Kosmides, Director of Marketing + Growth, SummitSync

“Letting the data help guide your decisions rather than relying on intuition. We’re all prone to confirmation bias and love being right so being a data-driven marketer also means that I’m willing to accept the data and admit that my gut instinct was wrong in certain cases.”
Dustin Tysick, Director of Growth, Jostle Corporation

“It’s a paradigm shift in the 80/20 rule, where, instead of being driven 80% by your gut and 20% by data, you flip that, and let data drive your decision-making and your gut for testing.”
Phillip Deneef, CRO, GeoLinks

“Marketing has several dimensions that we can group into three sets: science, math, and creative. All work together to reach a common objective, with sciences gathering and testing data math storying that out (especially for internal communication and processes), and creative applying those insights to develop messaging for the target market. A data-driven marketer functions within one or more those capacities and a data-driven strategy would involve the activation of all 3 of those sets.”
Divya Menon, Founder/Consultant, Bad Brain

Data-driven Means Measuring Your Performance More Accurately

“Being a data driven marketer is about using data to drive your go-to-market strategy and tactical execution of that strategy. It means you combine data from all marketing channels to help you build a robust understanding of the ‘why’ behind your campaign’s and team’s successes, weaknesses, and failures.”
Keith Johnstone, Head of Marketing, Peak Sales Recruiting

“If you’re truly a data-driven marketer, you’re always designing your programs with measurement in mind. All too often, measurement is an afterthought for marketers – something to do once you’ve run your campaign. Campaign planning should include a detailed accounting of what will be measured and how you will collect, record, and review that data. Also, the best metrics should show how marketing efforts are impacting business results. Marketers often talk about great campaigns but have no idea if they’ve moved the needle for the business. This kind of vanity measurement isn’t well suited for the data-driven marketer.”
Wayne St. Amand, CMO, Visual IQ

“First, you need to understand how to measure the success of your marketing efforts – in other words, you know the right metric to look at. For example, looking at your open rates or clickthrough rates does not make you a data-driven email marketer. You need to understand how successful you were at driving the action you intended to influence, link that back to metrics like clickthrough rate and open rate, and have a perspective on how you can improve your results the next time around.”
Agata Celmerowski, VP of Marketing, Klaviyo

Data-driven Means Having the Facts on Your Side

“Data is the ultimate tool for separating what’s true from what’s false. In marketing, this ability to objectively determine whether X is better or worse than Y means that your marketing campaign can only get better over the long run because you’re not leaving anything up to guesswork. That’s what separates the modern data-driven marketer from the traditional marketer; data-driven marketers are able to consistently make high-quality decisions that don’t rely on guesswork.”
Marcus Taylor, Founder & CEO, VentureHarbor

“To us, being a data-driven marketer means leveraging clearly defined trends in consumer activity to help make educated decisions for marketing campaigns. It is about interpreting data to identify the choices that are more likely to produce the desired results, and to evaluate the success of a campaign when compared to initial goals.”
Justin Kline, COO, Markerly

“To me, being a data-driven marketer means that you put data first in all your decision-making processes. It means that when you come up against a problem, your first instinct isn’t to solve the problem but to understand all aspects of that problem by what the data tells you and more importantly what the data isn’t telling you, and figuring out your next steps based on that data.” Christopher Ayan, Director of Marketing, Centriq Home
Marketing may never be a perfect, cut-and-dried scientific endeavor. After all, we ultimately can’t actually read the minds of prospective customers and summon the best ways of reaching them. But understanding consumer intent and desire through data is as close as marketers have ever been. Putting it to use with thoughtful assessment before, during, and after campaigns can  provide a clearer path to success. Now is the time to harness that data and put it to good work.