Brace yourselves… 2020 is coming. Seriously, just blink a few times and it’s going to be January. Based on the customers and prospects we talk to every day, it’s clear that companies around the world are already starting to plan for next year.
As part of that preparation, marketing executives and managers make a variety of decisions regarding resources, technology and changes in strategy or direction. In many cases, they leverage data and reports to guide those decisions. On the surface, all that sounds simple enough, but in reality, it can get overwhelming quickly with an overabundance of data at our fingertips these days. This often leads to what I call “end-of-year analysis paralysis“.
So much data to analyze…
So many reports…
How to make sense of all this…
Oh hey look, Amazon has some great Cyber Monday deals!
Instead of feeling like a wave of data is sweeping you over, there are some key ways to dive deeper into your content analytics to find the trends and insights that can help you prepare for the next year. Let’s look at what analysis paralysis is and ways to overcome it to make sure your content marketing team is ready for 2020.
What Is Analysis Paralysis?
Analysis paralysis is the state of over-thinking so much that you fail to make a choice or take action. You’ll most likely face it in these scenarios:
- An overabundance of information, data, or options
- Over-complication of a decision that should, in reality, be simple
- Feeling as though your decision must be perfect, with no room for failure
- Having a deep fear of making a wrong move, causing you to stall indefinitely
You may have faced circumstances like these in your content planning or content strategy. They are fairly normal in the world of content. When analysis paralysis strikes you at the end of the year, it’s a culmination of everything you’ve been through. You finally have the results of your content efforts, but you may feel considerably overwhelmed.
7 Tips to Overcome Analysis Paralysis
Use these actionable tips to transform being paralyzed to taking action.
Break Decisions into Categories of Big and Small
With all your rich data in front of you, you’re on the hunt for what it means and how it will inform your decisions about the new year. However, before you let it overwhelm you, break your decisions down into big ones and small ones.
There are several questions to consider when determining if something is big or small:
- How much impact will this decision have on next year’s plan and strategy?
- How instrumental is this decision to other actions?
- Is the decision tied to goals or revenue?
- What are the consequences of this decision?
If the decision is of high importance based on these questions, then rank it higher than others. For example, the decision about the effectiveness of your content calendar would be major because it’s a central tool for your content team. Thus, determining how well it worked to streamline processes and provide transparency is a big decision.
Determine Your Objective
Before you dive into all those reports and get into the numbers, you should first set your objective. What do you really hope to learn in your analysis? How will the data you have provide you with a clearer picture of your content marketing’s effectiveness?
You may have multiple objectives, and that’s fine. List the questions you are seeking answers to that your data can answer. This will guide you through the process and keep you moving.
Banish Thoughts of Perfection
It’s rare to make a 100% perfect decision. You know that when you developed your content strategy, it wasn’t without flaws. That’s the nature of the business. You have to release any thoughts that perfection is necessary.
In combing through your annual reports related to content, you can’t fog up your perception looking for perfection. Instead, try to dissect the numbers and find opportunities. Admit that it’s okay to fail as long as you learn from it.
Just as your strategy and execution weren’t perfect, your analysis and the decisions you make as a result won’t be perfect either. But if you stay focused on your objectives, you’ll be more than okay.
Try to Remove Bias from Your Interpretation
The data you are looking at isn’t detached from you. As a content marketer, it’s the results of all your efforts. You have an emotional tie to it, which could cause your analysis paralysis to become worse.
Attempt to take a step back from the data while you’re analyzing it. Familiarize yourself with the four types of bias that can creep into data analysis. If you can work hard to remove your bias and attachment to it, it will be easier to learn from it and make the best decisions.
Set a Time Limit
The process of analysis could go on forever. While you certainly need to devote a large chunk of time for this exercise, it should have a limit. Block off time on your calendar that is specifically dedicated to analysis. And when that time ends, make a decision, right it down, and then move on to something else.
With a time limit in place, you may feel less overwhelmed with stress and anxiety about deciphering your data. Decreasing these two things enables better decision-making.
Seek OutOther Trusted Opinions
You aren’t the only one affected by your past results and future decisions, so it’s time to invite others into the process. When a single person analyzes data, they will likely come up with a single interpretation. Other people who have different roles and different ways of thinking can provide insights you overlooked.
By using a content marketing platform that includes performance report, you should have the ability to share reports and data with multiple stakeholders, making it convenient for them to provide you with their perspective and opinions.
Focus Your Energy on the Biggest Goals
You set your objectives when you first started and ranked them based on importance. Instead of obsessing over every small detail, focus your energy on the most significant goals. Spending too much effort on the little things will derail you quickly and keep you from doing anything.
As you go down your list of important goals, ticking off the big-ticket items early should actually help you make decisions about those things that are less important. Your big decisions will likely impact many areas of your content marketing, so they provide you with a good foundation to overcome analysis paralysis.
Being stuck is never easy, especially when it comes to making key decisions. While it’s probably impossible to avoid all analysis paralysis at the end of the year, these tips should help you zero in on what’s important. And you can enjoy a better way to aggregate your content analytics into one platform with DivvyHQ. See how it works today.