When you add up the activity of hundreds of millions of smartphones, tablets, PCs, and countless servers churning every hour of every day, it’s little wonder that estimates peg our collective data output at 2.5 quintillion bytes daily. Annualized, stored data is growing four times faster than the world economy.

Think about how astounding that figure is. As marketers, we have ready access to more data than ever before—about our customers, prospects, competitors, partners, and suppliers. But trying to capture and make sense of it all can be overwhelming. Here’s how to find and leverage the information you need and ignore the rest.

Marketing with purpose

Let’s start with the obvious. Marketing technology is temptingly functional now, and it’s easy to fall in love with the idea of collecting data on just about anything we want—from what traffic at the website looks like at 2 a.m. to how many prospects buy after the fifth click (or the sixth click, or the seventh). Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t show up to my office with a new set of statistics that look useful for a moment. But most often, it proves to be trivia that lacks meaningful context. It answers no important questions about the state of my business.

Now, does that mean marketers should be stingy about the data they collect? Not at all. Tech-savvy marketers would be remiss if they didn’t take advantage of modern intelligence gathering tools. The winners of this data race are the individuals who are careful about where they spend time analyzing. Collecting lots of data is the byproduct of being in a digital business, but analyzing only the data that can help make better business decisions is the key. Sometimes less is actually more.

Asking the most crucial questions

If that sounds like a balancing act, it is. Good questions can help you decide what’s worth analyzing, starting with the most important: what is the conceptual model that drives my business? I’m talking specifically about the drivers of revenue. For example, do repeat customers tend to seek out certain types of content before they press the buy button? And what experiences lead to sales most often?

Think of the traditional leads process. Most marketers will tell you that activating a pop-up contact form and pummeling website visitors with it 15 seconds after they arrive will build your email list. If you study this process enough, you’ll quickly learn how many pop-ups it takes to capture an email address. But will the email addresses forcefully captured from all those pop-ups actually lead to sales? That’s the question you need to ask.

Data that answers these questions is incredibly useful because it reveals value that can be delivered to the customer and realized by the business. And when we know those things, we can more easily test, engage, and ultimately optimize experiences for customers and prospects. In other words, focus on analyzing and acting on the data that can improve customer experiences and your bottom line.

Finding a seat at the table

To be fair, that’s easier said than done. I’ve seen many companies where an obsession with large numbers and preconceived notions kept us from really studying the key drivers of revenue and designing the experiences that would get us more of it. Be prepared to have these conversations and stand firm when you must.

But again, do so with purpose in mind. As B2B marketers, we have to constantly ask how we can add value to the business. How can we help the sales team have useful conversations with prospects that lead to deals? There’s data out there to help us answer those questions, and it’s the only data worth analyzing.