The Seven Habits of Highly In-effective Analytics

A while back, I posted about online marketers paying lip service to conversion rate optimisation. Several research reports had revealed yet again that many marketers were not making full use of analytics

• If results truly matter, then why are so many marketers leaving so much business on the table?

• Why do they ignore the analytics gold at their fingertips?

With apologies to Steven Covey, here are seven observations of why many marketers ignore analytics:

1: They’re too busy

Getting marketing or business intelligence out of analytics takes time.

Like anything worthwhile, you have to invest time and resources in it. Often there are so many competing priorities, that something as seemingly esoteric as analytics misses out.

Steven Covey made the distinction that you have to do the big important stuff, not just the urgent stuff. “Put first things first.”

2: They can’t find anybody to do it for them.

Finding anyone who can really understand and use analytics, plus discover the real value in it is difficult.

Ideally, you need three people:

  1. 1. A marketer: To make the creative connections, recognise patterns of customer behaviour, and thenturn that insight into action.
  2. 2. A programmer: Let’s face it, setting up any analytics code properly is not easy. Dealing with code, debugging and customising it is certainly not something any marketer or businessperson wants to do.
  3. 3. A number cruncher: Someone who can run the numbers through a spreadsheet and start to give you meaningful data.

Two left brain and one right brain personality traits that are unlikely to come in the one person. Most organisations haven’t budgeted for one analyst let alone a team of three.

You could try to outsource the task, but, for example, there is only one authorised Google Analytics consultant in my nation, and he’s still over 3,000 kms away.

3: The results take time

In an age where online advertising offers seemingly instant gratification, something that can take several months to properly implement, and show results just isn’t sexy enough.

As a famous Olympic coach once said: “Everybody wants a gold medal but nobody wants to turn up for training.”


4: It takes hard work

The legendary and iconoclastic ad man, Drayton Bird, has railed against the number of people in marketing who have no idea how to sell or any inclination to do any work. Bird is a former disciple of the father of modern advertising, David Ogilvy, who was tyrannical about the value of doing proper research.

Analytics is your research. There are jewels to be found in it, but you have to get in their and dig.

6 It should be free and easy.

The web has given us many things for free that once cost a lot. Analytics is just one of them. When Google introduced free analytics it changed the perception of analytics almost overnight. What once cost $1,000’s per month was now free.

However, it didn’t make it any easier to implement or get the intelligence out of it. Google accidentally created a false belief that analytics should be free and easy.

The notion that you might have to pay some very smart people to make it work for you runs counter to generally held beliefs about analytics (if not life itself.)

Stephen Covey said overcoming these widely held beliefs was about “Restoring the character ethic.”


7 It’s too complicated.

As I implied elsewhere, marketers, in general, tend to be right brain creative types. They tend to see the whole picture and focus on the end result.

Confront them with a sea of numbers, formulas for calculating conversion rates, coding instructions and their eyes will glaze over. (And for all you hard nosed direct marketers out there, yes I am generalising.)

Most of them just want the results. (Don’t we all?

Illustrating the very real connection between the analytics numbers and the sales results often results in one of those “Aha” moments. A point where people suddenly get what analytics is all about.

When that happens, they usually can’t get enough of analytics. However, that’s another story.

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