Making #measure equitable: Democratizing Digital Analytics
It seems that I’m about a month late with this particular topic, but it’s a big one and I wanted to make sure that I’d really thought it through before I wrote it.
A month ago, I presented at #ACCELERATE in Chicago on the topic of #OccupyAnalytics. The basic premise was fairly simple: we in the field of digital analytics not only ARE the 1% when it comes to representing the larger analytic workforce; but we also SERVE the 1% as only some of the world’s largest companies employ people like us.
This reality creates a sad disparity for us economically because the majority of the businesses in the United States are small businesses. Businesses who, by and large, feel they need to do digital marketing to compete in the marketplace… but don’t understand it at all.
The confusion lies in large part due to a basic lack of understanding on how digital marketing works. What channels to I need to use to reach which audiences? If I’m not on Facebook, am I doomed? Etc.
In the “old days” there was no real difference between being a marketer and being a customer from an experience perspective. We drive by billboards, we get mail in our mailboxes, we listen to the radio, and we get phone calls. Every marketing vehicle, in essence, was a normal component of everyday life – and most of us can figure out what to do to communicate with other humans in the offline world.
It’s the adjustment to digital that has created all this confusion.
Our first duty is clear if we want to make digital analytics a more equitable trade that is accessible to all businesses, regardless of size.
That duty is what I’ll call the “democratization of analytics.”
To understand how to measure something implies that first you understand how the thing works. Most people don’t actively “play” everywhere on the internet, so they lack the basic grip on what the purpose of different media really are. When this happens to me, I’ll whip out this handy-dandy 1.0 drawing to explain it.
[This is my first charge to you who were in my audience and said, "But what can I do to help?" Explain this stuff. To anyone who will listen. They want to know, trust me. It's like teens and sex; they don't want to look dumb or inexperienced, but they want to know more about how things work before making any decisions. And just like with teens and sex - you WANT them making INFORMED choices.]
I know that there are plenty of other “experts” out there that may disagree with where I’ve categorized things, but this is how I choose to think about it and explain it to others.
First, let’s start with social media which is predominantly Facebook followed by Twitter and then Google Plus. Social media was originally intended to link what was happening in the old chat rooms with what happened offline in your circle of friends. It enabled us to basically only “chat” with people we knew in “the real world.”
Of course this has all been bastardized now as people add friends to Facebook or Twitter that they’ve never met in real life. But if you keep your eye on the idea that all these websites were ever intended for was to SUPPLEMENT face-to-face activity, then you have a good anchor in your head for HOW to use them.
For businesses, social media acts more like what you might say or to in an actual storefront, with a real person standing in front of you. If you’re overly cheesy and pushy when it comes to selling product here, you’re going to scare people off AND look like a jackass. If you genuinely CARE about the customer and want to get to know them here, it’s going to work.
The big difference to keep in mind for anything that happens on Facebook (et al) and anything that would happen in your store is that that interaction “evaporates” in real life after you’ve had it. On the internet, it’s always there and always stored somewhere, even if you delete it.
The next one is the phone.
The phone is still the phone. Even if it’s a mobile phone or a smartphone, it’s still – for marketing purposes – just a phone.
Radio is still going strong because it has the brains to generally just stay free and make money off of mass advertising. There is internet radio that will let you be more targeted with your ad spend. The real opportunity in digital for audio communication is with the podcast. A podcast is quite simply like a little radio show that you produce and post online. You control the content. People download it to their phones and you’d probably be surprised at how many people download entertaining or educational podcasts and listen to them during a commute. That represents an audience that went out and found you, downloaded your stuff, and WANTS to hear what you’re producing. That’s digital gold.
And it’s gold that most of your competitors either don’t understand, don’t use, or don’t measure.
Another little gold mine out there that isn’t being used to its fullest potential with most small businesses is video marketing. The internet has effectively killed the production studio. You don’t need an expensive camera, an editing team, and director, and a script. All you need is a smart phone and a good quality microphone that you can get at amazon.com for $50. You just need a topic and about 3 minutes of content.
Everything else is free. You on camera = free. A walkthrough of your store or latest project = free. Uploading to YouTube or other video channels = free.
The likelihood that someone will buy from you after watching your video? About 4 times higher than any other digital or offline marketing. Really.
The search engines (mostly Google, they own about 70% of the world’s search) have effectively replaced the print phone books we all still seem to receive. Observation: if my 80 year-old grandmother goes to Google instead of the phone book to find something, I think it’s safe to say the yellow pages are screwed. (She does. No, I didn’t tell her to. Yes, she’s still on dial-up.)
How do you get your business showing up on the search engines? Build a great website that is simple, easy, and extremely descriptive of where you are, who you serve, and what you do. Oh, I know there are a lot of carpetbagging SEO charlatans out there trying to take your money and put all kinds of stuff on a website you don’t need. Sometimes I have drinks with them. But the only real SEO magic you need is what I told you. Who you are, where you are, who you serve, and what you do. That’s it.
Here comes the controversial one. The one where I tell you that blogs, Tumblr, Pinterest, and other content sites are the new magazines and newspapers. WHAT! “But blogs are just random people writing random crap that they think is important!” Yeah, so are newspapers. The only difference is that reporters have to get everything approved by their editors. Bloggers don’t.
Yes, journalists may be more socially conscious and looking to safeguard us against corrupt governments and corporations. Oh wait – so are bloggers. Hmm. Well then, journalists get writing degrees and know how to research a topic to be neutral. That’s true. It’s also why they’re losing eyeballs to journalists that aren’t afraid to inject opinion and personality into the news like Glenn Beck, Suze Orman, Nancy Grace, Anderson Cooper… Steven Colbert. Jon Stewart. In fact these journalists have been so successful because they behave MORE like bloggers and LESS like traditional reporters.
Am I saying we’re all citizen journalists now? Yes. Welcome to the digital world. A computer, a passion, a point of view, and dedication can get your blog just as much traffic ( or more) than a traditional newspaper website.
THAT I know with 100% confidence.
So why advertise with a newspaper or magazine… if you can spend the same amount of money with a more targeted blogger in your field?
And blog formats have changed so much with the introduction of Tumblr, Pinterest, and Flickr that you have internet giants like Facebook struggling to keep up… and copy them. Now if the time to find your niche and go after them with bold statements and imagery.
Show others like you who you are.
Now get out there and explain some things!