A few weeks ago, I wrote about a "Newsweek" article about the super cruncher era. It referenced the book "Super Crunchers" and discussed moving from intuition to data to make decisions. Obviously, there's a fine balance between data and intuition. Both are necessary to make smart decisions. Intuition without data can be dangerous. And data without a human aspect and intuition can be dangerous as well. But often, data can enhance an individual's intuition over time, leading to better decisions all the way around.
And recently, my colleague Shane Atchison wrote about Dell's da Vinci Marketing initiative. The project involves creating an integrated marketing and communications agency, in partnership with WPP, in a deal valued at $4.5 billion in agency billings over the first three years.
In its announcement, Dell said it called the agency selection process "Project da Vinci" because it was looking for the "combination of artist and scientist -- an agency that has both the creative horsepower and ability to measure the business impact of their work."
The combination of reading "Super Crunchers" and Shane's column on da Vinci got me thinking. I pulled this great statement from "Super Crunchers" that really ties together the balance, or art and science, to make the best decisions:You can still be creative. You just have to be willing to put your creativity and your passions to the test to see if they really work.
This hits the nail on the head in terms of the balance we face every day using Web analytics (and other Web data) combined with the creativity it takes to put ideas into action online. Creativity isn't just images, but also copy, layout, calls to action, and more.
Web analytics doesn't stifle creativity, and neither do data. I've long been preaching (and finding it true) that very often having data allows for greater creativity. And testing definitely drives this. Testing lets you try things that normally might not make it through rounds of reviews and approval. Typically, all these rounds of approval end up leading to the safest option. But the safest option isn't usually the best-performing option.
Too often, people don't realize this is the case. The book had a great chapter about doctors relying on intuition rather than data. Masses of data are now available that can help doctors make better decisions. Yet too often, a doctor's ego gets in the way of using these tools. They think they can do it better because they're looking at their patients. Multiple studies prove time and again that predictive medical tools are significantly more accurate than doctors' intuition. Which doctor do you want to see, one who leverages all the tools and data available to her, or one who follows her gut?
There are many differences between Web analytics and doctors. While most people aren't comfortable testing a bunch of solutions on humans insofar as medical care is concerned, the risks testing things online are fewer and results are quicker. And usually, no one's life is at stake.
A few takeaways: don't trust your doctor, push your Web team to be creative, and test, test, test!
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As the Chief Performance Marketing Officer for POSSIBLE, Jason supports the agency's global Marketing Sciences and Media Services programs.
His primary role is to help POSSIBLE teams and clients use data to craft digital strategies that attract, convert, and retain customers - maximizing ongoing ROI across paid, earned, and owned channels. He believes that brands can better serve their customers by understanding audience behavior, and that messaging should be targeted to individual customers through the use of testing, behavioral targeting, and CRM initiatives.
Jason has written extensively about digital analytics, optimization and digital strategy, including an ongoing column at ClickZ.com. He is the co-author of "Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions," which is one of the leading texts in the field of digital analytics. His client roster includes Microsoft, Nike, Nokia, Dell, Ford, Sony, PayPal/eBay, P&G, Alcoa, Expedia, Mazda, Intel, and Motorola, and more. Jason is a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars around the world ranging from the Cannes Lions, Adobe Omniture Summits, eMetrics, SES, ad:tech, BazaarVoice, and many other WPP events.
Follow him on Twitter @JasonBurby.