Good quality, meaningful and actionable data can serve to make marketers smarter about their business in many ways, but many brands make the same common mistakes, according to two experts from Facebook.

Amit Chaubey and Sachin Sharma – senior marketing science experts at Facebook – cite data without direction and data that lacks depth and scale as two common pitfalls for marketers. To be effective, data needs to be applicable to a key business challenge, they believe.

“Many marketers today are overly focused on building their own ‘first party database’, to the extent of data becoming a goal in itself… Often data is collected and sits in Excel sheets, without a clear application to add substantial value to business,” the pair advise in an exclusive article for WARC. (For more, read: Data-driven marketing – six common pitfalls and how to avoid them.)

“To be meaningful, data needs to have sufficient scale and volume. A brand with a consumer base of millions of households is unlikely to benefit from a database of a few hundred consumers,” they write.

“The other important dimension for data is depth and richness. The more 'fields' your database has, the more insights you can gain, and the more relevant your marketing to people can be.”

There is a belief among some CMOs that having ‘unique’ data lends competitive advantage. The reality is that competitive edge lies not in how ‘unique’ the database is, but rather in how uniquely you use it – and Chaubey and Sharma recommend using partnerships as a way to gain more insights into consumers.

“Building effective data partnerships with retailers, measurement and analytics firms, market research panel companies is a far more effective way of accessing data, rather than trying to do it on your own,” they say.

“Combining your first party data with third party data from these specialist firms can also be a very effective approach in some cases.”

Sourced from WARC