People don't want the raw data, but instead want marketers to decipher the tech speak for them and present the valuable insights. If marketers can do this, they will help their organization become more data-driven than the competition.
Why is it so hard to get people to understand the value of data?
Why do they not see the elegance of a hyperbolic paraboloid that clearly exhibits a prospect's heightened propensity to engage when touch points are arranged just so?
Why is it so hard to get managers and executives to make the serious investments necessary to really get a solid return on the people, processes, and technology of digital analytics?
Why do they not immediately grasp the power of the golden drops of pure truth you offer them on a silver platter?
Do you have to spell it out for them?
Do you have to draw them a picture??
People are not data experts like you.
People are not statistical analysts like you.
People do not see what is so obvious to you.
So you have to meet them on their own turf.
They don't want data, they want insight.
They don't want numbers, they want understanding.
They don't want reports, they want insights.
More than that, they want to have confidence in your confidence in what the tea leaves are telling you.
You have a direct line to the data gods and they do not speak the language. You know how relatively trustworthy the data from social media is compared to the data from your website, your CRM system, or the stuff you buy from Axiom. They trust that you have a handle on the statistical mumbo-jumbo that they count on you to translate. ("Confidence intervals? What are you talking about?")
They don't know what that funny noise is when they start the car when it's really cold. They want you to tell them whether they need an overhaul or just need to top up the power steering fluid.
They want jewelry, not raw ore. They don't know how to clean it, smelt it, purify it, or fashion it into a necklace. Even if you give them pure gold, they are stymied. They cannot craft it themselves.
They can't read and understand a long list of medical test results. They want to know if they should take a few pills for a while or undergo open-heart surgery. They need you to interpret and explain it for them.
They want to know what you think. They want to know how strongly you feel about it.
Draw them a picture.
Tell them a story.
Engage them emotionally.
If you are good at digital analytics...
If you are careful in your advice...
If you are able to translate confident intervals to degrees of enthusiasm...
You will be a trusted advisor.
You will be a digital analyst instead of a report generator.
You will help your organization become more data-driven than the competition.
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Jim Sterne is an international consultant focused on measuring the value of the online marketing for creating and strengthening customer relationships. Sterne has written eight books on using the Internet for marketing, produces the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit and is co-founder and current chairman of the Digital Analytics Association.
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September 23, 2014