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Data Science for Dummies

Why marketers need to understand data science

25 Aug 2015, by Paul in Marketing The Arts

Yeah, yeah, I know. We marketers know that data is important, especially in the nonprofit sector where everything seems to hedge on things like audience demographics, patron experience, and donor retention. But I’m the first to admit that my eyelids start drooping the minute someone starts talking about the science of data. Forget the science, right? I’m all about the art.

That’s why I’m excited when I see posts like this one at Marketing Profs. (And by the way, if you’re not reading their free Daily Fix articles, you should subscribe to the RSS here. You might need to register, but it’s free and well worth your time.)

Right now, the retail sector is making the best use of big data to influence decision-making and drive sales and repeat visits, but if you’re using any kind of CRM to track your organization, you can apply some of these principles to drive ticket sales and gifts. And even though author Matt Diehl makes this article easy to follow, he doesn’t shy away from approaching the bigger concepts. Why is this important? Because you or your Executive Director report to a Board, and I guarantee you that one or more of those Board members understands this at a fairly high level. Showing them that you understand it too will help gain support for data-gathering initiatives that may require additional funding–funding that they control.

Here’s another reason: it’s the science of data that helps us avoid making decisions based on a small sample size or a data point that is statistically insignificant. It’s easy to get excited about what the data shows on the surface, but we have to temper that initial excitement with a deeper understanding of whether that data is relevant and accurate.

Articles like Matt’s are really vital to our work, and aren’t as painful to digest as the topic might suggest. Give it a go, and talk to that Board member with confidence and the understanding to back it up.