It's amazing how much insight data provides when you know where to look. And not just those subtle tips that help grow traffic, but massive, life-changing epiphanies. Analytics provides clues to better market and advertise your business, understand your brand presence, and even help you find your soulmate. Yes, analytics can even help when it comes to dating.
1) Know when you're wrong, fast.
I'm wrong. And when it comes to my own endeavors, I'm wrong a lot. I think the problem is that I'm too close to the business to be objective. However, I have a HUGE advantage over most marketers. I'm the fastest failure I know. How could this possibly be a good thing? Well, a thorough understanding of analytics has allowed me to take educated marketing and advertising risks and know almost immediately if they're working or not based on data trends. This has saved me (and my clients) time, effort, and A LOT of money.
2) Measure Your Awesome-ness!
I still remember the first time I was exposed to the power of analytic awesome-ness. It was in the marketing department at Check Point Software.
In early 2003 I produced a series of tech focused marketing videos similar to this one
. I had a very strong hunch that the videos were producing more leads than our white papers
, but nobody knew for sure. However, one of our marketing directors was ABSOLUTELY SURE
that her team's white papers were outperforming my videos (based on opinion alone). I needed to prove her wrong! We didn't have an easy analytics platform back then like Google Analytics, so it took a few days (and a couple of beers for some IT department friends of mine) to find the results. As it turned out my videos produced just over 300% more leads than the white papers. Nice! This led to an increased budget that allowed me to hire San Francisco based Hotbed Media
to produce our next video series and really crank up the production quality and creative.
3) Tame the HiPPO
My analytics hero Avinash Kaushik
has an acronym that describes the person whose opinion counts most in a typical company meeting: The HiPPO. It stand for the "Highest Paid Person's Opinion". Believe me, the HiPPO has derailed many website design projects
and marketing campaigns. Help your HiPPO make data driven decisions.
Learn how to be a data miner. Tame your HiPPO by educating them about the power of analytics.
HiPPO: That landing page is OK, but didn't I tell you to use ninja cats? I mean, they're cats, but they're also ninjas. They're ninja cats, Man! Who wouldn't love star-throwing ninja cats?
You: Actually, we tested several landing pages using Google Website Optimizer. The ninja cats page (while awesome) produced 225% fewer sales than our best performing page. We can use the ninja cats page if you want. But,... the other one makes the company a lot more money.
HiPPO: Uh,... Let's use the one that makes us more money. Anything other pages or campaigns we could analyze? I'd like your analytic insight in my next executive management meeting. Thanks!
4) Use analytic data to negotiate with vendors
If you understand the data, you have the power. I used to market vacation properties. I was barraged by advertisers wanting my business. I started out advertising with 12 different companies. The next year I cut it to five. By the 3rd year I had it down to three. I was able to make these reductions in advertising because I knew both the cost-per-click (CPC) and conversion rate (In my case a confirmed reservation). I knew which advertising platforms were working and which weren't. This allowed me to focus on the ones that were working, cut the rest, and increase bookings while saving money, time, and overall effort.
5) Know how much is too much
"You can't improve what you cannot measure." - Lord Kelvin
It's imperative to know what's read, watched, and purchased on your website. But I think It's more important to know what isn't. Without measurements, you can't make improvements. It's no different than balancing your budget, sticking to a workout, or learning a new skill. Measurement is key.
I was working with Hotbed Media
when they produced a kick-ass brand film
for a company called Riverbed
. It was very well received in-person at two minutes in length. But once the event was over and it was time to use it for promotional purposes on the website, a discovery was made via analytics. People weren't watching all of it. The edit was just too long for the web. If Hotbed wanted the video to hold people's attention and increase the odds of them watching more videos and ultimately requesting a reel or calling a producer, it needed to be shorter. The re-edit worked. 60 seconds was web-worthy.
6) Turn your passion into a business
My wife writes an amazing blog that provides natural childbirth resources for expectant mothers in Spokane called Bloom. When she was pregnant with our second child, she wasn't able to find any local resources for natural childbirth in the area and decided to build a website to fill that need herself. I'm very proud of what she has accomplished. In less than a year she's grown from conception (pun intended) to becoming the go-to natural birth resource in the area. And she's accomplished this with zero advertising. Her success is due to consistent blogging, creating a thriving community, and gleaning insight from analytics. It's allowed her to discover trends and quickly take the pulse of her community from a content perspective.
7) Improve your dating
Yes, analytics really can help with dating! In fact, I owe my marriage to it. I was recently listening to a friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) talk about a date. It apparently started off as a group date at a restaurant, then migrated to a nearby bar (as a group) and ended with him walking her home and experiencing the all too common "Should I kiss her goodnight?" dilemma.
But it doesn't have to be like that. He just need more data! By living and breathing in a data driven world, I quickly created a 3-Step Conversion Funnel for his next date(s). He just needs enough information to know whether or not his next date likes him or not. Let's look at the same scenario.
Step 1: The Group Date Revisited
Does she focus on you rather than talk with her friends?
If so, congratulations! That's the first goal of this conversion funnel. However, it's a soft-goal (like time on site). A better goal at this point would be any contact with your arm/leg or laughing at your stories (Come on, you're not that funny). Extended eye contact and a big smile are also a plus. Any combination is more than enough information to move onto step two.
Step 2: Data Segmentation
Will she separate herself from her friends and talk with you? Ask her to go to a coffee shop or a hip little bistro down the street. Nothing crazy. Pick something nice and close. It could even be a private table at the same restaurant. If she goes with you there you'll have the opportunity to look for content related metrics and measure engagement.
Step 3: Engagement
Does the conversation flow? Do you detect genuine interest? Is she leaning in towards you? By this point you should have enough information to know if she'll give you her number, let you walk her home, or possibly even give you a kiss goodnight. But by this point you've had three opportunities to assess whether or not she likes you or not. At each step you know if you've succeeded or failed. No more unreciprocated lean-ins for you.
So how did analytics help me get married? Well that's probably a conversation best had in person. I frequent the 5th floor at the Holly Mason Building and the LaunchPad Lounge events. Feel free to ask if you're curious. I'll also be teaching two analytics classes next week for those interested in learning more about understanding Google Analytics and gleaning insight from the data. I hope to see you there!