There is always something delightful to report back from each eMetrics summit, even if it late in getting to you!
Typically though it tends to be stuff from new folks who present and bring new perspectives.
This time it was different. There were a ton of presenters and many new faces and voices. But both presentations that I found delightful, with real solid actionable nuggets, were from old people.
Ok before Jim and Neil crucify me let me hasten to add that by old people I simply mean my colleagues who have presented at many a eMetrics summit in the past (this was my seventh consecutive presentation at eMetrics, so I am "old" as well!!).
Both veterans presented something new and interesting that, IMHO, overshadowed other insights, for me. Three cheers for non-recycled content!!
For people who speak at many conferences, this is a gift. It takes an extra effort to come up with good new content, but it is appreciated as a gift (from the knowledge Gods! :)).
It was nice to see friends, blog / book readers, vendors, analysts and everyone else at the summit. Thanks to everyone for making the time. Let's get on with my favorite insights……
Who: Jim Novo, The Drilling Down Project
What: Web Analytics Meets Business Intelligence
Why: Accuracy, Precision and the Actionable Data Pyramid
Others have talked about this but I have never seen someone explain it so clearly, the difference between accuracy and precision……
Both of the above in a perfect world are not desirable. But each brings a interesting set of challenges, and there is one of the above that is preferable.
Which one is it?
Jim's recommend precision because it is predictable and insights that can be gained can be actioned with significantly more confidence. Think about it….
If you don't know where the shot will land every time you fire, what can you predict about the next shot you fire?
But if you know where the shot will land every time you fire, even if you don't score a bulls eye, can you predict what will happen with the next shot you fire?
Of course the choice now is stark.
Most people (Marketers, Analysts, Decision Makers, Report Writers) focus on Accuracy.
I think it is driven by "business world 1.0" where things were far less complex, the world moved at a glacial pace, the price for perfection was bearable because there were three variables on which decisions were made and even if it took five months to get the last 4% accuracy then it was worth it.
Because decisions were big, change was slow, mistakes were expensive, tolerance for risk was low.
Unfortunately "business world 1.0" is dead. Atleast Online. Has been for some time, it will take the Fortune 500 a little while to realize that. Decisions are made on a lot more than just three variables (to get a sense for it just see Web Analytics 2.0). They need to made much faster (if you don't then your agile competitors will). Risk can be managed (even with your most outrageous ideas, say a test, you can control for risk – just split: control 95% and test 5%).
Change is all around you and happening faster every single day. For all us that don't want to get run over, let's determine to go for precision and not accuracy. Please.
Do the best you can with Tags, Cookies, Instrumentation, then jump into the arms of the sexy Ms. Precision.
[I don't know why but Accuracy seems so much more a male thing! Yes I get the irony.]
End of what you all surely agree is a rant.
There was one more delightful slide from Mr. Novo. This was particularly powerful for me.
What data yields insights that can be actioned the most? Here's Jim's answer…..
Did I already say I adored this slide? It is adorable.
Jim's points are extremely obvious (actionability, relevance of insights that can be actioned decreased as you go down the slide). Let me share my learnings.
There is this myth that if only I know who you are that I'll be able to find earth shattering insights that are relevant and actionable. You age, your income, your marital status, your education level. That is worth a lot less than people realize.
I think partly people don't trust web analytics data because it is anonymous and cookie based. Demographic data seems to be the magic answer. While it is useful in some cases, increasingly for many businesses it is of less relevance and scores lower on the actionability index.
Jim has worked in the online, offline and nonline worlds. His experience is that if you have actual behavior of your customers then that is most insightful in finding insights that driving action (what they do on your site, what have they done in the past, what made them fork over money to you, what creative / messaging got them to submit the lead…).
Then comes inferences based on implied behavior. You are doing this so far and everyone else who did that ultimately ended up sending us a truck full of money. People who have compared cars on Yahoo Auto and are on our site probably want to do this/that. This takes an even balance of art and science.
Then come Psychographics and finally demographic data.
I have a lot less experience than Jim but my humble experience, especially online, has reflected Jim's recommendation above.
Don't get red herrings lead you down paths where the output of your effort leads to a red face.
Jim's blog is: Marketing Productivity.
Who: Neil Mason,
Applied Insights Foviance
What: Cutting through the NOISE!!
Why: Application of Predictive Analytics
I have had the distinct pleasure of hearing Neil Mason speak atleast three times and each time I am impressed with his insights and passion.
In our space Neil is the most "I have it all together and you will listen to me and you will be wow'ed" speaker. If you get a chance don't miss his talk.
Neil's presentation had this wonderful slide that I was quite smitten with.
It outlines something simple (yet non obvious): all of the variables that will determine the size of Neil's audience at a conference……
Notice how incredibly well thought out it is! Neil's thought of all the elements, and now he has a magic formula that spits out a number. 250. Packed into a room that holds 150! :)
Neil's slide, for some odd reason, made me think of how hard it is to understand all the reasons why there is a outcome on your website.
Just look at the variables for a "simple" problem that Neil tries to solve above.
Now imagine trying to understand why your website is doing better than last month or worse. I think people desperately underestimate the complexity of mastering this talk.
Your boss comes into your office and says improve conversion rate by 10%. Not to ten points, that would be huge! By ten percent.
What do you do?
How easy or hard is your task?
Should you run out and spend a ton of money on Affiliates / Email Campaigns / Paid Search Ads? Should you run to identify the demographic profiles of people who visit your website? [That was a trick question, the answer is no! :]
Instead I recommend that you do the "Neil Mason Exercise".
Here is what my humble attempt looks like…….
Before I figure out how to improve conversion rate I am going to sit down and identify all my "levers". That's what you see above.
Conversion rate depends on my acquisition strategy (where am I spending money to acquire traffic), my organic ranking of the "head" keywords, how crappy my checkout process is, distribution of why people come to my site (Primary Purpose), my website "scent" (Tip of the hat to the Eisenbergs) and so on and so forth.
In fact as I was writing these I ended up with way more variables than the seven slots available from Neil's slide. They are all the other green arrows you see above. :)
Lesson #1: This exercise is of tremendous value.
Lesson #2: This is hard.
Lesson #3: You can't improve what you don't understand.
Next time you get a challenge to improve a metric, any metric, go throug the exercise above. Then……
Go get the data for each of the variables you have identified and try to identify where the true opportunities are for improvement (classic: here are three areas out of 15 we stink at and now let's do a cost benefit analysis of where we can get the maximum bang for our bucks).
If you have done a good job of identifying all the variables then I promise at the end of this exercise you'll be surprised at what you need to improve to win. It won't be the obvious areas.
Neil's Blog is: Applied Insights. [Neil: More content please!!! :)]
Ok I am done! One summit, three excellent ideas, what more could anyone ask for!
Its your turn now…..
Please share your perspectives, critique, additions, subtractions, bouquets and brickbats via comments. Thank you.