Six Visual Solutions To Complex Digital Marketing/Analytics Challenges

CirclesTwo things I love a lot:

1. Frameworks, because if I can teach someone a new mental model, a different way of thinking, they can be incredibly successful.

2. Visuals, because if I can paint a simple picture about something complex it means I understand it and in turn I can explain it to others.

This post is at the intersection of those two lovely things.

Each of the six visuals re-frames a unique facet of the digital opportunity/challenge, and shares how to optimally take advantage of the opportunity/challenge.

We'll start with digital at the highest strategic level, which leads us into content marketing, from there it is a quick hop over to the challenge of metrics and silos, followed by a recommendation to optimize for the global maxima, and we end with the last two visuals that cover social investment and social content strategy.

A vast expanse of our current existence.

All of the visuals are in the form of a venn diagram, though, as you'll see, I do take enormous liberties with the format. [As Orlando correctly points out in his comment, in taking liberties I've mostly created Euler diagrams. Venn diagrams are a subset of Euler diagrams, checkout the difference.] Here are the stories we'll cover…

Ready to learn, smile and cry (just a little)?

Let's do this!

#1: How to Win, Really Win, at Digital: One-Time PLUS Many-Time Relationships.

The most intense amount of effort companies put into their site happens at site launch or the yearly new product launch. Everyone gets excited, agencies are hired, content is scraped from product box-shots, prettiness is sprinkled everywhere and much happiness, represented by a gigantic sigh of relief, occurs.

All of that is good.

The challenge is that this annual, or semi-annual, update of the content or the website design, is a terrible way to win at digital.

how to stink at digital

All the stuff you've launched is great for showcasing your company and its products. It delivers conversions when I visit your site once and buy something. But beyond that engagement, that one-time relationship if you will, there is no reason for me to ever come back. Because you don't have anything updated on your website. If I remember everything you sell, I might come back the next time I need something from that everything. Or due to some incredible co-incidence if I bump into your brand when I'm thinking of buying something from your everything.

A secondary, under-appreciated, challenge is that search engines value freshness of content. Once you launch your site, it becomes stale in due course (from a organic search signal perspective). It impacts your organic rankings (even if there are tons and tons of factors that influence SEO results).

A final tertiary challenge is that in a world dominated by conversations and social, your static content rarely entices any new conversations. It is great that you've added a silly string of buttons to all your product pages, but there is hardly a reason for anyone to click on them. (Most of the time all they are is an ad for addthis or some other "free" provider of those buttons.)

If you want to truly rock digital, this is what your digital strategy should look like…

how to win at digital

So do your periodic product launches/site refreshes. But almost all your content energy should be poured into fueling the creation of dynamic content! You should have an incredibly amazing blog for your company (more on this below). You should have a robust strategy to earn compelling product reviews. You should have a well defined strategy to create videos and how-to content (constantly updated with solutions to new pain points of customers). You should talk about how innovation works in your company. Your employees should tell their stories. And so on and so forth.

This constantly updated content provides me more reasons to visit your website and stay in touch with your brand. It is also immensely beneficial for search engine optimization (great content, delivered fresh, every day!). Finally it generates a constant stream of social amplification and social conversations!

So do you have a static AND dynamic strategy for your digital existence?

Patagonia is amazing at this. They have a fantastic website where I can buy fantastic stuff that I fantastically love. In addition to that they have amazing content like what you'll see at Patagonia Surfing, and they have a regularly updated awesome blog The Cleanest Line and so much more. As a result I have a one-time and a many-time relationship with the Patagonia brand.

Ditto for one of my favorite hotels in New York, The Standard. Great website for booking rooms and all that. But they also have a great blog/culture guide/all things cool and amazing sub-site called The Standard Culture. I have a time-to-time relationship with their brand (whenever I have to visit New York). I also have a many-time relationship with them because of all this amazing dynamic content – which ensures that I love the brand and that in turn always makes my hands type their url when I have to visit NYC! That is what you want.

I'll be remiss if I did not provide you with two examples of what magnificent product reviews look like.

I love the ones on Williams Sonoma, they are detailed and include a title, a rating, specification on cooking ability and length of ownership sections are my fave and an overall recommendation. They also have, for each review, social amplification buttons! I also love the reviews on Rent The Runway. Can't you just imagine how much value those 102 photos and huge number of reviews add? Not to mention how helpful they are to current or prospective customers!!

So what is your balance of static vs. dynamic? Is it as outsized as the second picture above? It should be.

It is the only way to win big.

#2: The Secret to Content Marketing Success.

Content marketing is all the rage these days. Everyone is contenting a lot of content about content marketing. There is even an institute about it.

On the surface it is hard to argue about the value of content. On paper, what could possibly go wrong with creating or curating content with an eye to driving sales or influencing current or future customers?


Except that most content deployed in the service of content marketing sucks. For two simple reasons: 1. It is actually really hard to create good content, you have to know a lot about the subject matter. 2. We simply can't help pimping ourselves/our products/our services.

When our current/potential customers encounter the fluff pieces which are glorified vehicles for our not so subtle pimping, they quickly see through both things leading to sub-optimal results. And depending on when you want to open your eyes and see reality, you end up realizing content marketing does not work.

Let me share with you my simple rule for creating content that markets itself.

When people ask me how I decide what I write about on this blog, my answer is that prior to launching this blog I'd decided a simple rule for myself. Only post content that is 1. incredible 2. of value to the audience and 3. sans pimping.

how to suceed at content marketing

I've worked very hard to follow this rule every single time I post something. The content here – and you are the ultimate judge of this – represents what I consider to be something incredible that you will find to be of value. I have a lot of other incredible things to write, but if I believe you won't find them to be of value, it gets killed. (I wish you knew how many posts I've discarded because they did not meet that simple criteria!)

The rule impacts my work in other, big, ways. For example, if I did not have time to write something incredible of value, I've not written anything. The deadline comes and goes, if I have nothing, you get nothing. It is also the reason my posting schedule over the last five years has gone from twice a week to once a week to once every two weeks to once every three weeks. (Amazingly, the blog traffic has gone from 2k a month to 150k a month!)

Finally, I've never accepted ads on this blog. In the right nav you'll see two discreet sections with my books and my start up Market Motive. That could possibly be considered advertising. There are three posts out of 283 about my book, and just five that mention Market Motive. Very little pimping, because I respect your capability to see what I'm selling and buy it if you feel it is a fit for you. (And you have!)

I'm not unique in following the above visual. There are many, many others. People and companies. Waaaaay more successful than I can ever dream of becoming. If content marketing is their strategy, the common thread is always the same. Something incredible, of value, with the barest minimum pimping.

It is the only way to win big.

#3: Data, Data Everywhere and Yet We are an Abject Failure.

I work with many medium to large companies around the world. Every single one has an impressive array of tools, many of them even have an equally impressive array of analysts.

Yet a heartbreakingly huge number of them stink at a company level. By that I mean they might have some pockets of excellence, but overall their site stinks, their customer experience (end-to-end) is awful, and their digital strategy is, on the greatest possible day when every single star is aligned perfectly, adding 1/10th the value it should.


It is the simple combination of how each division/group of people inside, and sometimes outside (agencies, et. al.), the company are organized and incentivized (as in what metrics determine their bonus).

acquisition behaviour outcome metrics

Acquisition is everything we do to attract traffic. Behavior covers everything that happens after the person lands on our mobile or desktop site. Outcomes are what happen just before the visitor leaves our site (money to us, satisfaction to them).

Companies have an Email team and an SEO team and a PPC team and a Social Media team and a Display team and…. many teams for acquisition. They are often measured on impressions (or worse, "connections") and clicks. Then that is all they optimize for. They take zero responsibility for crappy landing pages, or even 404s on landing pages.

Then there is the "site team." Euphemism for we will do anything to keep the site up but really all we do is launch pages that someone will ask us for and we really don't know who is coming to the site or what is driving them there and we rarely speak to marketing or agency but the site is pretty cool, we think.

Finally, there is someone in IT responsible for running the cart and checkout process. It is unclear that what their bonus is based on, but it is rarely abandonment rates or task completion rates.

Depending on other variables, there might be someone who looks at conversion rates (usually sans a lot of other context).

Each might work on their own little circle, there is no incentive to look end-to-end, or even at the overlaps/hand-offs.

So fix that.

Make sure your executive dashboards obsess about acquisition, behavior and outcome metrics. Make sure that every single report you create has acquisition, behavior and outcome metrics (download this example: Page Efficiency Analysis Report).

Force each team to think end-to-end and you will incentivize the right behavior across your company.

It is the only way to win big.

[Bonus: Download nine additional custom reports, and a VP-level dashboard, I've created with ABO as a foundation, directly into your Google Analytics account: Occam's Razor Awesomeness ]

#4: Optimize for your Global Maxima: Obsess About Macro AND Micro Outcomes!

The average conversion rate for a typical top ecommerce site is around 2%. And sadly, we are not at the top, so we tend to do worse.

When we obsess only about conversion rates on our website, the problem is that that is an obsession with just 2% of the site outcomes. We end up looking at the world through a straw, and the best we can do is a lot less than the best we can actually accomplish.

macro conversion local maxima

This is not to say that you should not worry about conversion. You should. But when your strategy looks like the one above, powered by looking through a straw, you'll optimize for the local maxima.

That is not terrible. It is just not awesome. Your parents will always pat you on your head and say "Oh sweetie, you could have been something. Something so much more."

And who wants that? You want to live up to your fullest potential!

That means you'll have to care about your macro-outcome, the ecommerce conversion or your lead submitted conversion or donations made to your non-profit conversion. But you'll also have to care about your micro-outcomes!

Some of these micro-outcomes will directly lead to your macro-outcome. For example, people signing up for your email marketing list will convert in the near future. Or people who create wish lists, sign up for product alerts, watch product videos today etc. They are all signaling intent to convert.

But other micro-outcomes might not be directly related to a near future macro-outcome. For example, people who subscribe to your blog's RSS feed. Or people who follow you on social media or subscribe to your YouTube channel or sign-up to volunteer for your non-profit or download your utility marketing mobile app etc. All these outcomes bring people closer to your brand, an awesome outcome.

micro conversions global maxima

When you measure the success of your AdWords campaigns or your email blasts or your Facebook ads or any other acquisition initiative, make sure you report your macro-conversion rate. But don't stop there. Make sure you report your micro-conversion rate as well. Teach your company to optimize their digital strategy for a portfolio of outcomes, macro plus micro. And if you compute economic value of digital – the value of macro plus micro outcomes – your career will be on the fastest possible track to fame and happiness!

Best of all, this will mean you are optimizing for the global maxima.

It is the only way to win big.

[Bonus: Learn more about macro and micro conversions as they apply to a B2B company, Texas Instruments, and a technical support site .]

#5: Rent or Own? The Optimal Social Media Investment Strategy.

This is a new trend amongst companies. Swept up in the fervor of Google+, Facebook, YouTube and other social platforms, they are massively shifting their resources (people, time, dineros) into their presence on these new platforms.

That in of itself is not a bad thing. Everyone knows there are a quadrillion people on Facebook. It is absolutely a valuable audience.

The bad thing is that all this seems to come at the cost of investing resources on efforts related to the company's website. So many companies have irrelevant posts by expensive employees on Facebook all day long (more on this below), and don't spent the little bit of money to create a mobile website. #arrrrrhhhhh

Remember, when you create a presence on Facebook, Google+, Sina Weibo, Vkontakte, you are renting.

rent own terrible balance with social

You don't own the domain, you don't own the customer data, you don't create/own the rules, you can't influence changes, you don't have a say in how many characters you can type or how long your video can be or how much creativity you can express. You play by their rules (after all you are just renting).

This does not make those platforms any less valuable. But it is astounding silly to have your rented presence come at the cost of a platform you own!

Build your own magnificent platform first. Where you create the rules, you control the evolution, you own the customer data, you have a direct relationship with your audience, you get to decide what happens next (or if ever!), and there are no limits to your experimentation with creativity!

rent own site social great balance

Once you nail your own existence, move on to nailing your rent existence.

And going forward, always forever remember the balance between own and rent. Outsized investment in own and an appropriate, demonstrated by the best social media metrics, investment in rent.

It is the only way to win big.

#6: The World's Greatest Social Media Strategy.

Why does L'Oreal Paris USA, a multi-billion dollar corporation with a marketing budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, have fewer followers than I do on Twitter?

Why is the talking about this brand metric for Avis rent-a-car less than half of what it is for my brand page (and I have 50,000 fewer Likes than they do!)? Remember, Avis is a corporation with thousands of employees in tons of countries.

Why does TravelZoo have 224k fewer Followers on Google+ than I do?

All these companies are big and magnificent, and I'm very small and inconsequential. So, why?

The answer is simple: this is their social media strategy…

embarassin social strategies

They wake up everyday and, on the world's greatest channels for conversations, they shout at people. Every single post they write, every single tweet they send, is simply another variation of BUY IT NOW!

The challenge is, as the See Think Do framework emphasizes, a tiny, tiny, minority of the audience is there to buy anything. (If you need more proof, just see how poorly advertising performs on these platforms.)

Just because you are good at shouting on TV/Radio/Print/Display does not imply that that is what you do on social media. Even if you somehow manage to get a bunch of Likes/Followers/+1s, your conversation rate, amplification rate and applause rate will be pathetic.

So stop that.

These channels are awesome (also see visual #5 above). Here's the strategy that works…

incredible social media strategy

Pimp your stuff sometimes – say twice a week. And if you can be clever about it, like getting your customers to pimp for you, even better.

Ninety-five percent of the time create conversations and try to add value to your customers/likers/+1ers.

Write about topics both of you are interested in. If you sell smoothies, talk about food, how to develop a great palette, travel, evolution, agriculture, the future of the planet… the topics are endless.

Provide utility. Share tips on how to make my life better. Share tips on a healthy lifestyles, exercise, wellness of children, latest relevant mobile apps…. the topics are endless.

Your customers have given you permission to interrupt their day. Don't suck at it. Be respectful of their attention. Create a warm space in their heart for your brand. Contribute something incredible, of value.

That is the only way to win big.

That's it. Six simple visualizations, and solutions, for complex marketing, analytics and life challenges.

As always, it is your turn now.

Is there a venn diagram that resonates more with you than others? Which one least reflects reality? What does your company's digital balance between static and dynamic content look like? What percent of your social contributions is BUY IT NOW? Does your company execute for visual number one or two for outcomes? How incredible and of value is your content marketing content?

Please share your wisdom, stories, critique, and praise via comments.

Thank you.


  1. 1


    This is very good stuff. I particularly like the way you've separated winners and stinkers.

    David S

  2. 2

    At the end of the day, how we add value to our customer is important. Focusing on adding Values to end user / customers than Sales is the key to success.

  3. 3

    Wonderful article and you're absolutely right. It's a big shift for traditional marketers to make, though, and it's a long-range strategy.

    We may continue to have a hard time convincing clients that it works when TV ads are what they really understand.

    • 4

      Rebecca: If it helps, time and fate is on our side. :)

      I am a believer in TV, both its value as an entertainment channel and as a great place to advertise. The problem is investing in TV blindly. The problem is investing in TV blindly at the cost of other channels where the intent is so much stronger. The problem is investing in TV, a medium that is evolving differently very quickly, at the cost of not investing some in experimenting in channels that will be our future.

      The good news is that smart companies are changing, other non-smart companies will join them (willingly or unwillingly!).


  4. 6

    A post by Avinash I understand!

  5. 8

    Great post, Avinash! I think this is a hard area for the business world to understand. Content marketing, building up your website as a base of dynamic and helpful content, and anything that requires time and effort before paying off is usually frowned upon in lieu of something that will help meet the Street's expectations this quarter.

    It's a shame though, because if you don't invest, how do you ever get the flywheel spinning? I'm lucky I have leaders who can envision the type of effect this investment in social and website equity can do in the long run and that I have your blog to continue to reference so that I may pick the right metrics and show things in the right way to continue to get buy-in.

    My favorite KPIs for our blog/resource areas lately have been website frequency and assisted conversions (i.e., we have our Multi-Channel Funnels set up to group channels based on landing pages instead of media source and measure these pages' ability to influence macro and micro conversions over time), which have done wonders to demonstrate their ability to woo people over time and really build that relationship before asking them to buy.

    • 9

      Josh: You are absolutely right, our obsession with short term outcome is undermining the efforts in activities that create long-term value. Of course this is not a problem unique to the web.

      One way to make incremental progress on this challenge is to consider executing against venn-diagram #4 in the post. The micro-conversions happen in the current quarter so that gets the management team to value them, even if it is not as much as it should be.

      After a few months of that, we can start to show how those micros map up to the macro and gradually we start to drive the right type of long-term thinking.

      I will admit, it is painful for us even if it is ultimately hugely rewarding for our clients.


  6. 10
    Dominic DiBernardo says

    You never fail to deliver incredible value. The thing I love best about your posts, besides how well thought out they are, is the fact that they come from someone in the field. This is not about some theoretical world, this is real insight from the trenches.

    By the way, I just finished your book "Web Analytics 2.0", can't wait to start my implementing all the awesomeness at my company. It was the perfect primer as I switch hats from eCommerce finance role, to that of "ninja web analyst" covering all things web.

    Your book opened my eyes to how far behind the company is at web analytics, at first it was depressing, but then exciting realizing how much low hanging fruit there will be in the beginning. And the fact that I get to help build a analytics team that has never existed before.

    My first few months is all going to be centered around simplicity: identifying the critical few, outlining a measurement model, and evangelizing web analytics 2.0 philosophies and mindsets.

    Thanks again!


  7. 11

    It's funny, because even publishers — who you would expect to be masters of content creation — face this problem.

    There are so many times, where you see a publisher whose social feeds are just, here is a link to a post, here is another link to a post, here is a third link to a post.

    • 12

      Nikita: I could not agree with you more.

      Everybody's got to learn the new rules. Even old media. :)


    • 13

      After working in the book publishing world for 15 years I have come to believe that most publishers don't really understand content marketing.

      For sure the industry understands the mechanics of delivering a book with a low perceived value. But very few seem to want to use that content for marketing purposes.

      Huge generalisation I know.

      • 14

        Marcus: My stress with #5 was to focus on the balance, and to have a better own than rent (for reasons I've already mentioned).

        Social is an incredible place to engage in building relationships. My almost 400,000 social followers will attest to my own humble efforts. :)

        But if my own existence stinks, I would not invest a dime on social. I would make my own existence better because if I do engage an audience and they want to buy from me or learn about my service or work with my non-profit, where will they go?

        So… totally with you on relationships, totally on with you about the value of social, but not at the cost of own (your website, your email list, your mobile app).

        I hope this makes sense.


  8. 15

    Another good post Avinash and incredibly easy to understand. Love your Venn diagrams. All your diagrams are pretty much self explanatory. If i could add one more solution to solving complex marketing/analytics challenge then it would be 'being Agile'.

    "The success in digital doesn’t come from the level of insight you get but from your ability to rapidly deploy solutions which solve your customers’ problems either wholly or in parts." I just copy-pasted this line from my blog post because I can't explain it any better in few words. Lot of big companies i work for are simply not agile and i doubt they can ever become agile because of their cumbersome bureaucracy, internal politics, organizational silos and other operational inefficiencies.

    I also feel that fixing these operational inefficiencies is beyond the power of a single person, not at least an analyst. You need the support of major stakeholders and significant influence in the board room to bring big changes in your organization and changes always come from the top. Otherwise it is just easier said than done. Making the big companies move faster is like trying to make an elephant fly. It is not going to happen. This is the main reason that even with so much data in hand, world class analytics tools at disposal and full fledged analytics departments, majority of big companies suck at digital and in your words are "Abject Failure".

  9. 16

    There's a lot of value in these visuals, thank you Avinash!

    #5 (rent vs own) can also be an effective way to look at Paid vs Organic search. Rand at MOZ in particular has done a good job of illustrating the disparity of Paid and Organic budgets when compared to clickshare and ROI.

  10. 17

    Absolutely Awesome post Avinash!

    Eye-opener. A clarion call.. I decided i will take at least one action this week after reading this masterpiece of a blog-post.

    And yes Venn-Diagrams rock! The clincher was i got the idea of what you were saying by just looking at the 6 diagrams. Reading the post was just a confirmation of those ideas. :)

  11. 18

    Great Words + Great Picture = GREAT MESSAGE…models in application the teaching


  12. 19

    Fantastic post, Avinash!

    The social media content marketing section rings particularly true: if you're not creating anything that you find interesting yourself, or that will be useful and entertaining, why would anyone following you be compelled to engage with it? It's too easy to get caught up in the importance of our own work and forget not everything we're immersed in is interesting to outsiders.

    The visual breakdowns on this whole post were fantastic.

    Thanks for consistently providing useful, complex content!

    Content Marketing | Union Metrics
    Fine Makers of TweetReach + Union Metrics for Tumblr

  13. 20

    Hi Avinash, great post as usual.

    The question "should I rent or own my content platform" is very, very important.

    I think that the enthusiasm in social media caused a big excess in renting platforms. I think that investing thousands dollars in content production hosted in rented platforms (social) without an own platform (blog/articles) is a missed opportunity!

  14. 21

    Another great post Avinash.

    Particularly enjoyed your comparison the the 'rent v own' decision. Completely correct, don't invest too large a portion in the properties you don't fully control/own.

  15. 22
    MatthewShields says

    I was literally on a site creating my LLC a couple hours ago.

    And now I have my digital strategy .. so, uhm, can I like paint your fence sometime or something?


  16. 23
    Ben de Haldevang says

    I have a similar obsession with venn diagrams…wrote something recently called the 3D sales model…be interested in your view. Link below:

  17. 24

    Some nice thinking here…but of course these are *Euler* diagrams, not Venn diagrams :)

  18. 26
    Anees Merchant says

    Hi Kaushik,

    I have been following your blog for a long time and this one really nails it. Love the insights and recommendations from your end.


    Anees Merchant

  19. 27

    Brilliant as usual.

    How to convince the unconverted, and to get them to pay for it? Oh well, nice to have a mission in life.

  20. 28

    Great stuff thanks.

    Trying to get my analytics hat on at the moment!

  21. 29

    This is simply awesome! I have sent it to my team and advised them to drop whatever they are doing right now and assimilate this fully!
    I think each and every point that you have distilled is valid. I think one of the reasons we all tend to write stuff around BUY BUY BUY BUY is our impatience. We all want immediate results and hence think that if we hammer our BUY message in the reader's mind, we might be successful in selling. Unfortunately that hardly works and even if it does, next time you need to do this more vigorously and with diminishing results.
    Most of the large brands treat their facebook page as a place to put their ads. The other day I was having a conversation with my friend and he gave me a good simile – Your FB page is like a TV. If you are giving advertisements 10% of the time, nobody would mind and the ad would register in their mind. If you should ads 90% of the time, nobody is interested in your classified channel. It totally registered… and I completely agree that creating engaging content is the only way to succeed.
    I would like to ask you one thing – How do you research on user intent of reading the article? I notice that most of the times your articles hit the exact spot that I am thinking about … How do you read minds? ;-)

    • 30

      Paramdeep: I'm not sure if you were asking as serious question, but…

      I'm incredibly lucky to work at a company where I run into business problems every single day. Sometimes I feel like they get dumped on me. :)

      One of the cool things about problems is that they force you to understand underlying causes (if the problems are similar), they force you to think of new ideas, and they force you to identify people/process/scalable solutions.

      That essentially is where my blog posts come from. Problems!


  22. 31

    Thanks again Avinash for your great insightful posts.

  23. 32

    I love the simple way you have explained these concepts using Venn Diagrams … reminds me of, but one of the best ways in pushing across the points!

  24. 33

    Terrific post.

    This is a very interesting article about marketing strategy.

  25. 34
    Marcus Andrews says

    #5 Rent vs. Own

    This conversation generally refers to the audience not the platform. In Social you don't really own the audience but they have opted into communications from your brand and in general people like the communications unlike email.

    As far as a publishing/communications platform I would invest more into social if I'm trying to build relationships with consumers.

    Great discussion!

    • 35
      Daniel Zilli says

      I think a lot of people correlate "relationships with consumers" to social media. Which IMHO it shouldn't be true.

      It's like saying that before social media era we didn't have "relationships with consumers".

      • 36

        Daniel: Think of it this way. You could have relationships with customers for all our history. Sometimes the relationship was via TV, limited but there. Sometimes the relationship was us sending them catalogs every month (or week!). Sometimes that relationship was powered by our CRM system when our analysis suggested the "client was ready to buy again." Or other such efforts.

        What you could not do was talk, I mean really talk like a human, every day or on a frequent basis (regardless of if the customer wanted was ready to buy, or regardless of if they are even our customers). If you don't stink at it, you can have meaningful conversations.

        That is new, and simply because of the new technology options available.


  26. 37


    Great job with the visualizations and helping me reframe my perspective on some of these points.

    You make it so simple and direct to understand.

    Thank you.

  27. 38

    Hi Avinash,

    A brilliant post. Absolutely impressed and has made me want to read your book :-) So, as you can see, providing value ensures a sell.

    The biggest challenge in organizations is not wanting to take this route, but of not having the right end game in place (Venn #3). If an organization just focuses on fixing Venn #3 issue, so many problems could be resolved..but, easier said that done!

  28. 39

    Hi Avinash,

    Thank you once again for a brilliantly presented blog post. I appreciate your content :)

    And I've bought your book and look to you for inspiration, tips and advice.


  29. 40

    (Another) great post Avinash!!!

    And i have some question:
    I have a client that own a real estate building company, and i work very hard to find an interesting content strategy – without success.

    What can you post in FB/Twitter that will make a conversation with your customers?!?!
    Except "Buy It Now! Buy It Now! Buy It Now!" of course…

    The company just build houses and sell them.

    Ok so house design is very interesting content, but it's not connected to the brand. Isn't that?
    If my client was an house designer it's could be fine, but building company that write about house designing?!

    I would very appreciate if you have some idea for me, and if someone from the readers here have some interesting idea i would glad to know.

    And… keep writing at least once a week !!! ;)

    • 41

      Shuki: It really depends on what your company is solving for, and what skills the people running the social strategy possess.

      The overall goal of a social strategy is to form a relationship, sometimes it is temporary and other times it is permanent. So first figure out which bucket you fall into.

      Then figure out in that bucket how best to add value. For a real estate builder maybe a temporary relationship might be to provide helpful posts about the neighbourhood, tools and tips on how to buy homes, financing calculators, and so on and so forth. A permanent relationship might be to think of oneself as a part of the community and share information that the community residents find to be of value. In Seattle one of my friends who is in this business posts about local news, shares tips on what to do on weekends, advice on how to buy and sell houses, even articles on challenges the local community is facing. This has created a great water cooler for conversation, and coincidentally social is big business referral channel for him. And when I sacy coincidentally, I mean not-so-coincidentally. :)

      If all you have inside your company is BUY NOW people, then that is ok but I would skip social.


  30. 43

    Excellent post Avinash. Love the Venn Diagrams.

    The rent vs. own is my favorite. Who is to say that Facebook won't be the next MySpace or that Quora won't go the way of LinkedIn Answers? Even guest blogging to some extent, though there is a time and a place where it can make sense.

    My other favorite is the 100% BUY NOW folks who promote themselves on social channels as the social media experts yet 100% of posts center around their business and why everyone should buy now.

    It makes me wonder how they have any friends, fans or followers at all :)

  31. 44
    Epitom Consulting says

    Nicely written strategic article Kaushik.

  32. 45

    Great stuff Avinash! The one that really hit home for me is "Rent or Own."
    I hear so many people preaching that you don't need to worry about your website because you can use social media for free. But then the next change to Facebook's structure comes along and they have to start all over. Social media is a great tool, but it's just that a tool.

  33. 46

    Sums up the gold standard of digital marketing quite efficiently.

    Thanks for sharing Avinash!

  34. 47

    Really great stuff! Clients should read this.

    Thank you for the comprehensive article.

  35. 48

    Hi Avinash

    As a online marketing consultancy our dilemma is to choose for the (short time) euro's of customer projects or invest in our content marketing. For me the latter is important for future business.

    Can you give some guideline what percentage of the working time you should invest in content marketing and all the things you recommend above? Of course that depends on many factors but there must be a kind of relation like the well known 80-20 rule.

    Or if I ask you a brutal question . . . if you look at your business how many hours per week do you invest in your own content marketing like writing blogs (including the ones you don't publish :)), feed back to your readers etc.

    I remember in your book Web 2.0 your wife ordered you to invest more in blogging because the revenue in $$$.

    However, if my wife looks at the financial numbers she orders me to work only for certain clients. And if I argue to look at micro conversions she keeps on pointing at the main point of revenue. At that point she's like all the other bean counters :-)

    • 49

      Sander: Ha, ha! Your wife does sound like all other bean counters, but I suspect she is the reason you are profitable.

      Addressing your wife's concern is not a big deal. You just have to show a connection between the Micro Conversions and the Macro Conversion. I'd shared that in my first book.

      How much to dictate to content marketing is hard to answer, as you say there are too many variables in play. As I mentioned in this post, for me quality comes first and every time a life event has meant quality might suffer, I simply write less.

      Like you and I advice our clients, measure the value of content marketing along with email marketing and search marketing and display advertising and see which one adds how much value (say off a proxy like Per Visit Goal Value) and decide. For me it is around 10% of my investable time spent in content marketing. Beyond that I reach diminishing margins of return.


  36. 50

    Thanks for the great tips Avinash and the helpful diagrams! You taught me something new today, how to re-frame my digital strategy and to not solely rely on renting space.

    I am a visual person and when it comes to learning new and complex ideas, words tend to get lost in translation pictures and even changing the font and size can draw the reader back in. I want my readers and followers to want to come back so one must be different and stand out.

    No one enjoys a site that shoves their product down your throat, you do not want to be told what to do or how to think.

  37. 51

    Brilliant Post Avinash! I enjoyed every word. Will sure try to follow, when I write my next blog post, even though I am not as good a writer as you are :)

    Pls do look into improving the quality of the visuals that you have used. This will make the post look much more appealing and attractive.

  38. 52

    Very cool take on content marketing Avinash.

    I think overall besides the content marketing aspect, every company should balance their strategy around something incredible and of value. Money usually (hopefully) comes on its own.

    Best regards for another great post.


  39. 53
    Clay Schulenburg says

    You mentioned it, as did someone else, educating leaders of an organization about the trade-offs of investing in long term quality and relationships with your customer versus getting them to buy something this quarter.

    There are as many leaders that do not buy in to this as there are those that buy in but quickly abandon as the quarter nears a close. I suspect as more savvy marketers begin to fill the leadership ranks these things might change a bit, but in many well-established wall street properties, don't bet on it.

    You inspire greatness Avanish, especially when people listen.

  40. 54

    Great post, Avinash!

    I once attended a meeting where someone was actually protesting or second guessing our decision to start focusing more on the company's website instead of the social media presence.

    His argument was that "We could not measure website activity so well as in social media". It might have been my imagination, but I think I head my Google Analytics dashboards tremble in anger.

    But good news, we finally convinced management that our website should be the central part of the digital strategy. Sound pretty obvious, but common sense is really not that common.

  41. 55
    Nathan Brook says

    Very interesting and informative article, I really enjoyed it. I think marketing communication is one of the most important factors to make the success of the web.

  42. 56

    Two things I love a lot:

    1. Frameworks, because if I can teach someone a new mental model, a different way of thinking, they can be incredibly successful.

    2. Visuals, because if I can paint a simple picture about something complex it means I understand it and in turn I can explain it to others.

    That sounds like me.

  43. 57

    Hey Avinash! Great post!

    You truly re-framed the way I look at my website's content marketing and also highlighted the need for dynamic content in a higher ratio than static content. Thanks for the great insights!


  44. 58
    Creately says

    Venn diagrams are a great way to communicate strategies and guide ahead.

    Secret of content marketing has always been quality content more than the quantity.

  45. 59

    Seriously Avinash, great post.

    I can't believe I've never seen your site before. I love your point on frameworks. I actually heard about that in a book called Pitching and it's worked great for my sales pitches.

    But it never occurred to me that I could apply it like you mentioned.

  46. 60

    Hi Avinash,

    I am writing you because of few challenges I have had in digital marketing for an Insurance company(details below). Before that, I am very very very grateful to you for your selfless work. I have bookmarked your blog and check everything related to analytics and digital marketing.

    This post is amazing as always, however, I would like to know your views on how to do digital marketing for an insurance company. I think insurance is a boring topic. Hotels, clothing ecommerce sites have lot of beautiful photographs, interesting stories in blogs and entertaining social media posts and videos to draw attention and engagement,

    But does this apply to an insurance aggregator companies as well? What content should be in blogs? Since it's a boring topic what kind of stories should I concentrate on? what are the best medias to invest in? What are the best contents? Is their a unique way that you have observed so far in insurance digital marketing? i really request your advice in this matter.


    • 61

      Sooraj: The principles outlined in this post apply to all kinds of businesses. B2B, B2C, and of multiple types. The difference often is how much does the business (your insurance company for example) have the capacity to disassociate from the normal pressures to convert everyone right away, from being able to share something incredible of value now rather than try and just grab an insurance quote etc.

      In your specific case you also have companies you can emulate. For example, has all the stuff you would expect to sell you insurance, but checkout the Ways To Save and Tools and Resources – both of which apply to a much wider set of users.

      Or, even better, checkout the magnificent job being done by the folks over at Liberty Mutual:


  47. 62

    What a brilliant way to simplify a collection of ideas that hold within them unusual complexity.

    My favorite is #5 since so many companies even today make the mistake of outsourcing their digital presence to the social platforms. Agencies are happy to oblige as it is a recurring revenue stream for them. Your picture is going to everyone in our company. :)

  48. 63

    Avinash, you advised to create content that provides value to customers, which makes sense in general. But how about content for service business with aims to generate leads?
    For example, an SEO agency can write about how to do a thorough keyword research, or how to build backlinks legitimately, but people who search for those contents usually want to DIY their SEO. A few percent of them would realize that it takes more than reading a bunch of blog posts to put together an SEO strategy that delivers results. They go on to hire that SEO agency.
    So it's pretty much a numbers game. I've heard many businesses, usually small, lament that their content marketing efforts turn out to attract their peers, not their prospects. My question is, does it make sense economically for a service business to use content marketing to generate leads?


  1. […]
    Six Visual Solutions To Complex Digital Marketing/Analytics Challenges,

  2. […]
    Yesterday someone pointed me to a new post titled “Six Visual Solutions To Complex Digital Marketing/Analytics Challenges,” on Avinash Kaushik’s Occam’s Razor blog. My first reaction was: “He’s still blogging?” Yes, of course he is. I must have just been preoccupied for the last year or two and forgot to check his always amazing blog. As you would expect from Kaushik, there’s a lot of great stuff in this post, but I wanted to just focus on one of his six points. And that would be:

  3. […]
    Marca y contenido. Y todo ello me lleva a este post de Avinash sobre soluciones estratégicas para el marketing. La idea general es que para triunfar tienes que crear valor pensando en los usuarios y en lo que te hace diferente, y quizá el problema de muchos de los proyectos de e-gov se centran en sus objetivos internos en lugar de en una visión más relacional. Ahí está el origen de esto y ahí debe estar el destino.

  4. […]
    Six Visual Solutions To Complex Digital Marketing/Analytics Challenges [from Occam's Razor; written by Avinash Kaushik] On a social content strategy:

  5. […]
    Six Visual Solutions to Complex Digital Marketing/Analytics Challenges – Starts digital at the highest strategic level, which leads us into content marketing, from there it is a quick hop over to the challenge of metrics and silos, followed by a recommendation to optimize for the global maxima, and ends with the last two visuals that cover social investment and social content strategy. Another brilliant post. Occam’s Razor

  6. […]
    Six Visual Solutions To Complex Digital Marketing/Analytics Challenges. Google Analytics guru, Avinash Kaushik uses Venn diagrams to illustrate what most companies do wrong with their content marketing.

  7. […]
    Six Visual Solutions To Complex Digital Marketing/Analytics Challenges Avinash Kaushik, apasionante y útil como siempre.

  8. […]
    Six Visual Solutions to Complex Digital Marketing/Analytics Challenges
    Post by: Avinash Kaushik For those who love frameworks and visuals, this blog post combines the best of both. These six venn diagrams will help you visualize some of the most pressing digital challenges.

  9. […]
    Итак, вот они. Шесть простых визуализаций и решений для изменений в комплексном маркетинге, аналитике и жизни.
    По материалам блога Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik

  10. […]
    The problems can relate to general website design issues, and specific ones related to content access. Top Web metrics guru and Occam’s Razor blogger Avinash Kaushik writes about the short shrift websites are often given these days:

  11. […]
    Business Leader – One of the most influential business leaders for me is Avinash Kaushik. If you read anything on Google analytics then you know who he is, if you don’t, please allow me to introduce him. Avinash is the author of two best-selling books, Web Analytics 2.0 and Web Analytics: An Hour a Day. He is also the Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google. You can find him posting on his blog, Occam’s Razor. The reason I find Avinash fascinating and interesting is his thorough understanding of analytics and how he explains its application to the average business owner (read me!). One of his most insightful post was “Six Visual Solutions to Complex Digital Marketing/Analytics Challenges.” His first point is about updating content on your website constantly vs. once a year launch, YES!!!! Read on for further enlightenment.

  12. […]
    Further reading: I recommend you print this blog post. It was written by my Google Analytics coach. Print it and study it. He compares himself and big brands. Learn from him. Here is Avinash’s Google Plus. He has over ¼ million follower. Yes, that’s my coach.

  13. […]
    Late last year, every digital marketing measurement ninja’s favorite sensei said that he loved two things “a lot”: frameworks and visuals. I refer to Google’s resident analytics evangelist Avinash Kaushik, who said the power of frameworks comes from their ability to present a new mental model, combined with the visual’s ability to make the complex simple, like — yes — Occam’s Razor.

  14. […] Six Visual Solutions To Complex Digital Marketing/Analytics Challenges – The most intense amount of effort companies put into their site happens at site launch or the yearly new product launch. Everyone gets excited, agencies are hired, content is scraped from product box-shots, prettiness is sprinkled everywhere and much happiness, represented by a gigantic sigh of relief, occurs. The challenge is that this annual, or semi-annual, update of the content or the website design, is a terrible way to win at digital. […]

  15. […]
    Digital Marketing Evangelist and analytics guru Avinash Kaushik recently published a fascinating article on Six Visual Solutions To Complex Digital Marketing/Analytics Challenges. The article is especially relevant to government organizations, because it talks about the importance of dynamic vs. static content. Government agencies tend to have a LOT of static content on our websites… but once someone has read an article on your site, will they ever come back?

  16. […]
    The information in this chart is based on Avinash Kaushik’s blog post, Six Visual Solutions To Complex Digital Marketing/Analytics Challenges.

  17. […]
    For more information, see Avinah Kaushik’s post on solutions to complex digital marketing and analytics challenges

  18. […]
    Pero, si quieres atraer nuevos visitantes y clientes potenciales, hacer crecer tu negocio a través de las ventas online y establecer tu reputación, es necesario que generes nuevo contenido y lo hagas de forma consistente.
    Avinash Kaushik lo explica con una gráfica.

  19. […]
    I know, I know my love of Avinash Kaushik’s blog is a bit like a broken record but his site is absolutely packed with actionable ideas. I most love the combination of common sense and business focus that cuts through the hype and focuses on the purpose and outcome of digital marketing.

  20. […]
    La multiplication de la présence des marques sur des outils dont la marque est simple locataire (le « rent » d’Avinash Kaushik) a également déporté l’accessibilité à l’information des sites vers les flux d’abonnements, générant des dynamiques de flux transversales (vers des liens profonds, très thématisés) au détriment de dynamiques pyramidales (le visiteur arrive par la page d’accueil, puis se conforme à l’architecture du site pour naviguer).

  21. […]…
    It was really hard to use but I guess it is a good place to start off with infographics and it is important to learn how to use infographics as it helps viewers to understand the topic easily especially with icons around to guide the content.

  22. […]
    Problem It Solves: Avinash Kaushik outlines three major types of metrics you can measure in Google Analytics: Acquisition, Behavior and Outcomes. Most organizations do a poor job of linking the three together because they send separate teams to work on each one. So each team is incentivized differently!

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