This past summer, there was a thought-provoking article in TechCrunch called “How Google Analytics ruined marketing,” arguing that in some cases digital marketing tools and practices, especially measurement approaches, have undermined good marketing. While I don’t entirely agree with the author, I did find two important takeaways.

Insight #1: We’re in the “pushy” direct marketing danger zone

Originally, digital capabilities enabled the move from push selling to content marketing. We engaged people with information they valued, learning more about them in true conversations and meeting them where they lived online. They then connected with us, and ultimately bought our products and services.

At the time, this seemed better than the “direct marketing” days of interrupting people with physical mail, printed billboards and TV and radio ads to lure interested consumers. But was old-school direct marketing really annoying? And are we any better today? On one side, new companies are emerging to manage modern junk mail with spam filters and blockers. On the other side, more ingenious adtech tools help marketers bypass the walls consumers are setting up. Isn’t this a sign that consumers might feel like they are getting bombarded again?

It’s also tempting to build content to chase “clicks” and “opens,” rather than meet a true customer need. The TechCrunch article points out that we’re measuring digital activity, not necessarily marketing quality, which is a dangerous place to be. Judging by how many hits fake news stories, doctored photos and nonsensical videos receive, it’s obvious that what people click isn’t necessarily what’s good for them, or your brand.

Remarketing, another common tactic, is both one of my favorite things and something I’d hate to explain to my mother’s generation. On a positive note, I finally bought the gorgeous boots I was dying for after they followed me around on Facebook and Twitter! On the other hand, it can feel really intrusive when that item you checked out on Amazon won’t leave you alone.

As with all things in life, striking the right balance is key. We’re marketers, and we need to optimize all of our tools and channels, but it’s worth considering some restraint to ensure we build brands people value rather than avoid.

Insight #2: With all the data, we still don’t have good information

All of us are responsible for maximizing the ROI of our overall marketing budget. In a way, each digital touch is like a single mini-campaign measured by responses with Google Analytics. Whichever tactic that leads to a click or response is deemed successful. However, certain demographics, like millennials, exhibit unique shopping behavior that can complicate things. Millennials will see items on social media or on display ads, shop in stores to touch the merchandise, but end up ordering online rather than wait at a cash register. That sale shows up as a win for organic search, without any connection to the first exposure or the tactile, in-store experience that consumers appeared to value.

It’s hard to identify the exact point in the marketing mix, or what combination of marketing events, provides the impetus for people to buy. It’s an age-old industry debate, and the reason why we apply perspective and experience when making decisions. Digital marketing hooks us on direct metrics that seem official but can also be misleading when not analyzed in the proper context. That’s why, with the influx of data-driven digital marketing experts, we still need classically trained marketers with common sense, experience and judgment. Marketing is an art and a science.

Finding balance

The title of this piece comes from some of the best marketing advice I received from a mentor. Just because you can chase “clicks” to shape your advertising and content strategy doesn’t mean it’s best for your brand. Even though you can and should follow prospects’ web activity, you needn’t be overly aggressive. Lastly, just because something is easy to measure doesn’t mean you should take the data as gospel.

I don’t think Google Analytics has ruined marketing, and I continue to learn and invest in digital tools and expertise. Still, the foundation of good marketing is strategic, not tactical. Know your customer, message, brand and what you are aiming for to find the right mix of online and offline brand management and marketing promotion.