Analytics Are Not the Same as Insights

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Take a look around the web – especially on social networks – and you’ll see a lot of people and brands complaining about their marketing results.

From complaining about lack of action on a blog or website to little return on Facebook or LinkedIn, there’s a whole swathe of people blaming the lack of success on anything and everything.

“But have you looked at why you’re failing?” you can ask, and you’ll get the response, “Yes – we have analytics installed and we know we’re not getting the reach and results we’re looking for.”

And, usually, that’s the crux of the problem right there – because people are confusing analytics with the solutions to their problem, when it’s more than that that’s needed.

Analytics Are Not the Same as Insights

Don’t get me wrong – analytics are key and if you’re not even tracking the most basic of details around what you’re doing, of course you’re going to be screwed. Even the most basic of analytics gives you:

  • Traffic (in and out)
  • Demographics
  • What content works
  • What platform drives traffic
  • Behaviour on site

Go more advanced, and you can get a heck of a lot of information about your customers, existing and potential.

You can see what time of day they like to be online, what type of browser they use (desktop, mobile, Apple, PC, etc), what type of call-to-action’s catch their eye and turn them from intent to purchasers, and much more.

If you run a business, or are looking to run an online campaign for your business, and you’re not using analytics before, during and after to guide your decisions and follow-ups, then you’re not being anywhere near effective enough to be successful.

But… as good as these analytics are, they’re only part of the equation – the bigger picture comes from what insights you glean from them, and what you do with these insights.

Insights Are More Than Just Good Ideas

Once you have the information you need from whatever analytics package you use, the real work can begin. As an example, let’s say you’re looking to launch a book – here’s some of the ways to use insights from analytics for your campaign to reach your audience.

1. The percentage of tablet and mobile browsing versus desktop

From a personal point of view, I love to have an actual book in my hand when it comes to reading – there’s just something real about being able to flip a page versus sliding your finger across a screen. But that’s just me – many of my friends are far more attuned to tablet and eReader options.

By looking at your ideal audience – age, sex, income, browsing habits, etc – you can identify what their persona is more likely to be, and that can help define what the lead platform is – full print version or digital, with print to follow. You can also see which platform is best to lead on from an eReader point of view – Kindle, Nook, Kobo or other.

This gives you a better chance of being picked up by your audience out the gate.

2. Are they active socially?

Despite what people like me might think, social media is still not truly mainstream for the majority of the world. Sure, Facebook might claim one billion members, but that’s nowhere near the active users. Same with Google+, Twitter, etc. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use these channels to market.

Before you begin your campaign, carry out an online audit and find out where your audience like to hang out and, more importantly, when. It’s no good jumping on Facebook at 3.00pm in the afternoon when your audience is mostly online between 9.00am and 10.30am in the morning.

Get to know which platforms they prefer, how they prefer to use them (for friends, via mobile, as a curation tool only, etc) and start to document what the optimum time of day is for you to be online. Couple that with the platform and tailor your message accordingly.

Find groups and chats on Twitter to participate in – while dedicated to Canadian books, #CanLitChat is a good example of what’s on Twitter for authors and readers to participate in.

If a lot of your audience likes watching videos on YouTube, ask yourself if there’s an opportunity to set up a reading channel. Take excerpts of your book, read it, and ask for video feedback, with other YouTube users tagging your video. Better still, run a contest for other users to read the excerpt, and the best gets all your books free for life.

Additionally, start a reading group on Google+ and use Hangouts to pick apart your initial drafts, and allow early glimpses into what people can expect. Having your audience invested in this way encourages them to support you when you do launch.

3. How to play to your demographics

Every product or service usually has a core audience. Yes, there are examples where age and sex don’t come into it and a product crosses generations – Apple products, for instance, and Thomas the Tank Engine (you know it’s true!). For the most part, though, the majority of promotions need to be geared to a certain demographic.

Using your analytics and understanding who your audience is shapes the strategy behind your outreach.

Social network age demographics

As you can see from the chart above, published earlier this year by Pingdom.com, there are very different demographics depending on what platform you’re on – or your audience is.

Let’s say you’re going after the 35-44 age group. You might think that you should start on Facebook because, well, that’s where the whole world is, right? Not so fast, Skippy.

What about LinkedIn? That’s almost twice as much as Facebook for that particular demographic – can you take advantage of groups or ads on there? How about Yelp – can you work with local bookstores that obviously care about their audience and do personal readings?

Bigger yet, take a look at Slashdot and Quora – while they may not be the first that come to mind, you can see they’re hugely popular with your audience. Find out why – in these cases, it’s the question and answer format that attracts.

Start to build a presence there, answer questions, ask your own, build your reputation, and then begin to ask questions around your book topic. You’ve built trust, gained an audience, and approached it properly when it comes to that platform – again, making your book (or service) more attractive and warmer to the touch of that audience and their pockets.

Data is Everything and Everything is Data

As you might guess, I’m a huge data nerd – because I love understanding what makes people tick. What gets their attention – how is that attention kept? What turns them from a curious bystander to a purchaser or advocate?

Data can tell you all this and more – the trick is in knowing what to do with the data once you have it. Get that right, and you’re at an immediate advantage over your competitors.

And that’s never a bad thing, right?

Danny Brown is the co-author of Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing, described as “the book that will change the way we do business today” and recognized as one of the Top 100 Business Books in America by Nielsen BookScan. He’s an award-winning marketer whose delivered results for organizations like Microsoft Canada, BlackBerry, FedEx, Ford Canada and LG Electronics, and his blog is recognized as the #1 marketing blog in the world by HubSpot.

2 thoughts on “Analytics Are Not the Same as Insights

  1. laurahill9 says:

    Hi Danny,
    I am an old school marketer learning the new school fast and I love data too. Your points about insights are dead on. I believe firmly that it is what you do with the data that matters. Learning from it, tweaking and trying again seem to be my current methods.  
    As far as social engagement, it’s a great reminder to be thoughtful about where your audience is hanging out and to go there. I do feel like we all have to have a Facebook presence though, if for search results only. What do you think?
    Thanks very much!
    Laura

    • Danny Brown says:

      laurahill9 Hey there Laura,
      Thanks for the kind words and glad the post resonated! I think both Facebook and Google are taking social in interesting directions, and they both have reasons to be involved, even if it’s from an exploratory view to gain more understanding and knowledge.
      The Google Author Rank, for example, and its importance to search results; and Facebook’s recently released Graph Search, and how that ties into the bigger picture of who and what your friends are recommending.
      There’s a lot of cool stuff happening on both these platforms as they make power plays into each others territory – going to be interesting to see how it all plays out. 🙂

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