Marketers are easily accused of making too many assumptions. Partially because we don't always have resource to test everything, and a lot of time we need to assume certain things correct for others to be proven. Mainly, however, it is the fact that as humans, we all tend to search for the answer to our own opinion anyway.
That is why you can never track online behavior enough to come up with a set of rules that correctly apply to every case. What we are really tracking is only a very small aspect of behavior in a very particular setting, maybe at a particular moment. The right question then would be "how can we make the most our of our own bias?" or "how do we minimize our bias and maximize the return?"
Following is some of the advices I've collected that have helped me. I figure it might be useful to others. Especially during the time that Yahoo and MSN are going through a major search partnership, Google is implementing new keyword matching options, and FourSquare and Skype are fighting to make headlines.
1. Get a different set of eyes on your data. You make this neat and detailed report but do other people see the same thing?
2. Get a different set of data (from someone else) on the same subject. Assume all the data are correct, reference other people work could help see a fresher aspect.
3. Don't be stubborn. If there's a negative return, it is important to find out why first before trying to stick to the losing strategy.
4. Look outside of your project. Environmental factors, it's marketing 101, but how many of us actually look. Have we paid enough attention to our competitors?
5. Okay your assumption is wrong. Move on fast. Many times in paid search, we have the luxury to turn around more quickly. But for other channels, it is still important to be quick. People's behaviors change without warning anyone.
6. "New" does not always mean "Better". This includes new tools, new reporting system or even new people managing certain accounts. Large businesses don't change their agencies every year for a reason.
7. "New" could mean "Better". Is your current strategies, tools, methodologies, etc suitable to the changing environment? Do you need to start thinking about tapping into a new segment of consumers yet?
If you have other suggestions to share, feel free to write a comment or drop me an email. I'm always open to improving my assumptions.
p/s: The picture is the wonderful nature that I got to see during July 4th weekend. It's not really related to the topic but I figure since it's my blog, I get to do whatever I want without worrying about visits, bounce rates or conversions. What a luxury! ;)