The Public Relations BlogDigital PRData-Driven PRWhy You Should Validate Your Marketing Data Externally

Why You Should Validate Your Marketing Data Externally

Self-appraisal is not always a great idea.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

This art­icle col­lab­or­a­tion on mar­ket­ing data first appeared on Whispr Group.

How do you eval­u­ate your mar­ket­ing data?

Imagine sit­ting at your desk with a self-eval­u­ation form to fill out. The stand­ard­ized tem­plate in front of you is there to make your answers more com­par­able and — hope­fully! — guide you through the process. 

Now, accord­ing to your­self, how well did your last mar­ket­ing cam­paign or com­mu­nic­a­tion cam­paign per­form? Ultimately the ques­tion is, how well are you per­form­ing at your job?

Even if you’re being hon­est, how do you know wheth­er or not you’re uncon­sciously biased?

All com­pan­ies are using mar­ket­ing data to eval­u­ate them­selves. But the worse the per­form­ance, the big­ger the risk for skew­ing the analysis. 

So, how do you val­id­ate your busi­ness-crit­ic­al data?

Table of Contents

    Self-Appraisal is a Poor Solution

    Self-apprais­al can be help­ful, for sure. It allows employ­ees to cla­ri­fy their view of their work to be com­pared to that of their man­agers. Also, the ritu­al might encour­age employ­ees to frame their con­tri­bu­tions in a big­ger busi­ness context. 

    Unfortunately, bey­ond spe­cif­ic psy­cho­lo­gic­al use cases, the concept of self-apprais­al is mostly a ter­rible idea.

    The pur­pose of ana­lyz­ing mar­ket­ing data is all about arriv­ing at action­able insights to inform bet­ter decisions. 

    The major­ity of com­pan­ies today are col­lect­ing and ana­lyz­ing their per­form­ance data on the brand level using the self-apprais­al meth­od. To put it mildly: Self-apprais­al isn’t a very sci­entif­ic way to acquire busi­ness-crit­ic­al insights from data.

    The polar oppos­ite of self-apprais­al is peer-apprais­al. The main advant­age is obvi­ous — peer-apprais­al is much more effi­cient in pro­du­cing accur­ate know­ledge.

    The Fallacy of Overestimating Self-Performance

    In Let’s Abolish Self-Appraisal, pub­lished by the Harvard Business Review in 2011, the author and man­age­ment expert Dick Grote writes:

    In research­ing my book How to Be Good at Performance Appraisals, I found study after study that con­sist­ently demon­strated that indi­vidu­als are notori­ously inac­cur­ate in assess­ing their per­form­ance, and the poorer the per­former, the high­er (and more inac­cur­ate) the self-appraisal.”

    Justin Kruger and David Dunning (as made fam­ous by the dis­cov­ery of the Dunning-Kruger Effect) pub­lished an art­icle in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in which they con­clude that less skilled indi­vidu­als suf­fer a dual burden:

    Not only do these people reach erro­neous con­clu­sions and make unfor­tu­nate choices, but their incom­pet­ence robs them of the meta­cog­nit­ive abil­ity to real­ize it.”

    Why self-assessment of business data is a bad idea.
    The fal­lacy of know­ing next to noth­ing accord­ing to the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    Third-Party Insights as a Strategy

    Few brands have a strategy or pro­cess to val­id­ate their data analysis.

    Companies often alloc­ate money on product launches and mar­ket­ing cam­paigns, yet they usu­ally base these decisions on biased mar­ket­ing data. 

    According to what sci­ence implies, self-apprais­al is likely to be used for indi­vidu­al gains or worse — to rein­force an inflated brand image that only exists internally. 

    A com­pany eval­u­at­ing its per­form­ance is tread­ing on thin ice.

    While it’s true that the digit­iz­a­tion of the busi­ness world offers unpre­ced­en­ted oppor­tun­it­ies for extract­ing data, data is still just a tool. And this is true for all types of tools: If you use it wrong, you might end up hurt­ing your­self instead of fix­ing something.

    Whispr Group, as an inde­pend­ent glob­al ser­vice pro­vider tasked with turn­ing data into action­able insights, has taken its stand. Joakim Leijon, Whispr Group’s Founder and CEO, writes:

    Our busi­ness mod­el crit­ic­ally depends on our abil­ity to provide our cli­ents with unbiased and sci­en­tific­ally accur­ate ana­lys­is of their data which they can act on. If we fail in this endeav­our, our cli­ents fail. In our last two NPS sur­veys, we’ve aver­aged an 8,8 out of 10 — which indic­ates that our cli­ents are find­ing our ana­lys­is highly valuable.”

    How To Validate Your Marketing Data

    Whispr Group sug­gests the fol­low­ing crit­ic­al takeaways in avoid­ing the pit­falls of cor­por­ate self-assess­ment of mar­ket­ing data:

    1. Collect and ana­lyze mar­ket­ing data with the intent to gain busi­ness-crit­ic­al know­ledge, not to bol­ster intern­al careers or sup­port already-made decisions (see also: How the right insights will help you set the right KPIs).

    2. Always veri­fy your mar­ket­ing data via an inde­pend­ent third-party ana­lyst to avoid the Dunning-Kruger Effect (see also: Get star­ted with insights from Whispr Group).

    3. Nurture a cor­por­ate cul­ture that acknow­ledges that the truth can be pain­ful at times but that, by any meas­ure, ignor­ance is far worse for busi­ness. (see also: Stop just col­lect­ing insights and start using the insights from it).

    Does your busi­ness need a second opin­ion on a spe­cif­ic data set? Get in touch with one of Whispr Group’s data ana­lysts for a free consultation.

    Jerry Silfwer
    Jerry Silfwer
    Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

    The Cover Photo

    The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

    The cover photo has


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