I just read John Obrecht’s opinion column in BtoB April 9, 2012 on Thriving in the Age of Complexity. He shares how marketers’ bane is the complexity of social media marketing; trying to teach everyone and give them the tools to dive in while mastering the complexity of all the channels, not to mention the ROI of it all.
Indeed. And, he got me thinking; always dangerous.
There are all those lovely back-end numbers hidden from view that people call analytics. They comprise those data-driven reports that many left-brained people salivate over. Analytics make Google rich, and they make me suspect. Are those numbers real or skewed? Did you really get that many people to your webinar? How many qualified sales leads downloaded that white paper off that new landing page you just developed and published?
How about if I go to Clicky and see that 10 people from Canada and 80 from The Netherlands (because I was writing about Dutch tulips) read a post I wrote and stayed on my page three minutes. What can I do with that information? Should I keep on writing about flower bulbs from Holland which is not my primary expertise or service offering to satisfy higher analytics? Or, should I come back to center and write about message maps which everyone seems to want to know more about (based on analytics reports I see on occasion).
I was talking this week to a colleague being asked to drum up numbers from a few years ago to justify the success of various marketing campaigns. Why? I’m thinking the people at the quarterly meeting don’t care much about what happened in the past; they’d likely prefer to know which marketing campaign is planned for the future with how many built-in touches and success metrics.
The need for proof points, data, numbers that say W00t! and other analyses that contribute to complex interpretation with nary a consensus makes me cringe.
My PR measurement peers will smack me around when I say that, so let me clarify. I like to prove my program worked; I love to have solid and measurable results that support my strategy and help me earn my keep. But, there are many unnecessary layers of analytics blanketing a creative campaign that most practitioners can’t deep dive into for lack of where to start and how to skin the cat.
Just read John Obrecht’s column. He references a bunch of marketers at Digital Edge Live, an industry show, who “are charged up about their work,” despite massive upheaval and the generation of “big data.” Obrecht’s conclusion, though, calms nerves; “Despite all the complexity, this does indeed seem the best of times to be a marketer. It’s that simple.”
What do you think? When was the last time you used an analytics report or data to prove your campaign or support a new approach? Was it a one-off situation or do you frequently abide by analyses to win consensus? Is your company or website generating mass amounts of data you can’t begin to decipher?
Here’s my conclusion… Do embrace the analytics to an extent, but keep your distance. Too many numbers is like having too many cooks in the kitchen. I’m impressed with numbers, and I’m even more impressed with someone who can work them. We all know that a good analyst can make numbers work for just about anything, but, a one-time analysis that proved a campaign was successful last year doesn’t help me tomorrow.
This post today? Everyone can argue I’m dead wrong; there are so many others saying and publishing the opposite who live and die by analytics – SEM anyone?