There’s a lot to be said for trusting your instincts. Often, trusting your gut and taking leaps of faith are how the best decisions are made, how businesses prosper and how civilisation itself advances. But here’s the thing. Leaps of faith are also a major cause of falling and breaking stuff.

So, what separates the fallers from the flyers? In most cases, and particularly in the case of marketing, it’s data. Making informed leaps. And with so many tools out there designed to educate your guesses, it’s amazing how many people are still relying on their instincts to drive their important marketing decisions.

In a recent survey by YouGov, 42% of marketers cited personalisation as one of their key areas of focus for 2017. But personalisation can only be successful if you actually understand the people you’re talking to – the overall campaign has to be relevant or it won’t matter how personalised the content is.

One of the most common pitfalls people experience is also one that wouldn’t exist if they were paying real attention to their audience data. That is, mistaking yourself for your audience. Of course, there are exceptions. Generally, companies begin because the creator has a passion for the subject. But often, your most engaged audience isn’t who you thought it would be (or maybe who you want it to be). Paying attention to who’s actually interacting with your brand is the only way you can create successful campaigns. Of course, that’s not to say you shouldn’t be trying to reach into new markets, but if you ignore the audience you already have, you risk losing both.

Valuable audience insights can be found natively on all the social channels, and through other purpose specific software that will give you a deeper analysis of your industry as a whole. Structuring this data into a solid framework ad developing your processes according to this not only creates better performing strategies, but also better analysis afterwards, allowing you to see exactly what was successful or unsuccessful and evolve.