With the advent of big data and the ability to track everything, I'm reminded of Einstein's old adage, "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
Today, we have so much data, so few insights.
Turning data into stories and insights is one of my favorite parts of digital marketing. I recently gave a talk on this topic at Digital Day for one of my clients. Over the years, I've delivered this talk as a workshop, as a half-day training, and as a straight presentation - it always gets great feedback. So this week I've reworked it as a column for you all.
Here are five rules for turning data into insights and stories:
If YouTube's audience were a country, it would be the #3 largest in the world.
Every minute, 26 Lawrence of Arabia's are uploaded to the platform.
Every day, users watch the equivalent of all the TV programming that's been created over the past 40 years.
Give your audience something concrete and familiar to think about when you're explaining new or abstract concepts.
For example, "We have 45 million users" is a stat. A big stat, but a stat just the same. "45 million users, up from 35 million last year, with 90 percent of the new users accessing our content via mobile" is a story. It gives insight into how your audience is growing, shifting, and changing its behavior.
Give your audience enough context to understand why they should care about the data you're sharing.
So, if you're doing a case study about a campaign you helped optimize, don't just tell me that a client used your agency and saw a 20 percent lift in conversions. Instead, tell me about the creative they used, and how you tweaked the copy. Tell me where you were when you had the bright idea to target their media differently. Tell me what sparked your new idea in the first place. Tell me whether the uptick in conversions was immediate, or if you were biting your nails as you waited to see if the new approach would work. Tell me what the client said - the actual words they used - when they saw the results. And tell me what you learned from the experience.
Back at AOL, we used to explain the power of Patch (the company's local network of websites) through stories about its users. This sprang from the insight that while other local sites might have national news organizations behind them, Patch's brand celebrated the individual and the communities it serves.
For example, I'll never forget the time a Patch mom in Darien, Connecticut posted to the site that her beloved family cat, a tabby with white feet named Marjorie, had gone missing. Marjorie had been playing out back with the woman's son, Austin, but had disappeared from the family's yard. Despite spending three hours driving around the neighborhood, they couldn't find Marjorie and were desperate. The mom posted a plea for help to her local Patch, and within a few hours another community member had found Marjorie, safe and sound, though a little scared, hiding under her porch.
The power of the Patch sites is the emotional connection and engagement they foster. If I told you how much time was spent on Patch sites - the traditional measure of "engagement" - you'd probably be impressed…then promptly forget it. But I bet you'll remember the cat's name tomorrow.
How do you turn data into stories and insights? Let me know in the comments below.
Kristin will be on vacation in August. Her columns will resume in September. In the meantime, she can be reached @kristinkovner.
Image on home page via Shutterstock.
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Kristin Kovner is a digital marketing, technology, and media industry veteran. Her firm, K-SQUARED STRATEGIES, helps high-growth media and tech companies develop and execute best-in-class marketing strategies. Prior to opening her own consultancy, Kristin served as the Vice President of Marketing Strategy at AOL, where she managed the AOL and AOL Advertising brands and set and executed the go-to-market strategy for AOL's owned and operated websites, including AOL.com, Moviefone, MapQuest, Engadget, and The Huffington Post.
Prior to joining AOL, Kristin served as the Head of Industry Marketing for YouTube and held various roles on Google's marketing team. Kristin has also worked as a journalist for Newsweek and SmartMoney, The Wall Street Journal's magazine, and as an economic consultant at Bates White LLC.
Kristin graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude from Yale College and currently lives in New York City.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT