Data gets a bad rap.
Too often when we think of data, our eyes glaze over as we envision people with pocket protectors lecturing us on, say, the advantages of Bayesian inference in statistical analysis. Or worse: insurance actuaries helpfully calculating the odds of our death.
But even as data is frequently much more accessible than it had been, most marketers still think of it as a necessary evil or something that simply doesn’t help them unless they’re a Fortune 500 CPG firm with huge pools of information to work with. In reality, even small businesses can benefit from a better understanding of how to use the information they’re already gathering.
Here’s an example—a data scientist uncovered two interesting facts as he examined data relating to traffic in New York City:
- He found the absolute worst place to park in NYC
- He defined when rush hour starts and ends in NYC
Not exactly the kind of stuff that TMZ is going to report breathlessly–unless the worst place to park happens to be in front of “Brangelina’s” apartment–but it is certainly interesting if you run any sort of business that has trucks doing deliveries in Manhattan. (Sadly, the data says that rush hour in Manhattan lasts from about 8:30 am to 6:30 pm. In other words, all day.)
In other words, data is only boring when it’s not relevant. If you’re in Des Moines (and I’m not knocking Des Moines; I’ve been there and it’s a cool town), you don’t care about parking in NYC. But if you’re shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars each month in parking fines, then the data here is anything but boring.
Here’s a quick exercise to help you put this to good use: what’s the most productive page on your website?
In all likelihood, you have a trove of data about traffic on your website. And if you can’t answer me within a few minutes, chances are that’s all you have. Because you haven’t found a way to turn the data into information and the information into insights.
So you’re leaving potentially valuable data-driven business advantages on the table. If you don’t know what the most productive page on your site is, how can you devote resources to creating more content on the same topic, or in the same format? How will you know to promote that content via your most productive channels? And while we’re on the subject, what are your most productive channels?
Stop thinking of your data as boring. Start thinking of it as a resource to be tapped. This is likely to require some dedication and perhaps even some expert outside help–or someone internally with a blend of analytical and creative skills.
Done right you’ll increase your marketing effectiveness and drive down your costs. Because you won’t be wasting time circling the block. You’ll be parked–legally–and already at work helping your clients
(By the way, send me your answer on your site’s most productive page. If you include the metrics you used to determine why it’s your best page, I’ll send you a quick report on factors you may not be considering.)