A recent survey confirms that human intuition is an important part of executives’ decision-making processes. These findings further the recent conversations about emotional influence and speak volumes to the importance of the salient content that B2B marketing professionals strive to create.
The survey, conducted by gyro and The Fortune Knowledge Group, found that over two thirds of executives make business decisions based on their intuition. It also determined that if analytics contradicted the gut feeling of an executive, 57 percent of respondents would question the data and choose to conduct a second analysis. Despite the advances of marketing analytics tools and their ability to drive smarter decisions for businesses, an even slightly larger number of respondents—62 percent—said that a “gut feeling” is the only thing needed to make most decisions.
“The studies’ results suggest that emotions, intuition, and human factors continue to be important facets of decision-making,” writes Marketing Charts. “Indeed, respondents to the gyro study cited numerous factors that challenge their use of just an analytics approach.”
As it currently stands, only 10 percent of survey respondents said they would listen to the data if it conflicted with their own beliefs. Another 30 percent said that if their gut feeling and the data disagreed, they would collect more data to gain a more informed perspective.
“Business decisions are made emotionally and justified rationally,” writes gyro CEO Christoph Becker in the report. “There is no machine, acting logically and automatically, to make decisions for us. Rather, there are hands, hearts, and brains influenced more strongly by their own personal feelings than by the incessant flow of data and information.”
The enduring power of emotions to influence decision-making, even in the face of hard data insights, is not only limited to business. Facebook’s recent mood manipulation study revealed just how dramatically a person’s emotions can alter their online engagement. According to that study, Facebook users exposed to heavily negative News Feed content were much more likely to be negative than the users exposed to highly positive content—the latter individuals produced content with a far more positive tone.
Emotional influence has been studied in past digital marketing research, and this latest survey serves to reaffirm those findings. One possible reason B2B marketing leaders are unable to separate their own emotions from business decisions is that these decisions can have very personal implications. When an employee’s livelihood or reputation within the company is at stake, it might be more difficult for him to make a balanced decision that considers hard data while dismissing emotional impulses.
At the same time, the soft insights generated by human perspectives cannot be dismissed entirely. Human intuition is an important supplement to data analytics tools that might not be perfect or comprehensive in their approach. Finding a balance between these two sources of insight is critical, and many business leaders appear to be leaning too far in one direction.
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