This week, I’ve assembled five favorite quotes that I use when discussing analytics.
“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
– Albert Einstein
There’s some debate whether Albert Einstein said this or whether it was only on a sign hanging on his office wall at Princeton. No doubt, he was referring to digital marketing! In our world, there’s no shortage of numbers. Instead, our problem is often having the right numbers. For me, this quote epitomizes the challenges of creating good key performance indicators (KPIs). We can measure a lot these days. But just because we can measure something, it doesn’t mean that it’s important. Quite often the important things to measure in business, our KPIs, are hard to measure, and it’s often because we are thinking about measurement in the wrong way (see next quote). The challenge is to count the things that count (good KPIs) and to get the right numbers right (good data integrity).
“If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”
– Abraham Maslow
For a long time, digital marketing analysts would try to solve every problem with data from a web analytics system. It’s getting a lot better, but there’s still a lot of it going on out there. We don’t need a single tool; we need a whole toolkit. Having good web analytics is absolutely necessary, but rarely sufficient. In addition to web analytics, we need good voice-of-the-customer intelligence, an understanding of the competitive situation, and an appreciation of the actual technical performance of the channel. This has implications for the skills base and training for analytics teams within organizations and also levels of investment required.
“The price of light is less than the cost of darkness.”
– Arthur C. Nielsen
Art Nielsen was a pioneer of modern marketing research. This quote characterizes the challenges in getting organizations to spend on measurement and analytics as they often view it as a cost rather than an investment. These days investment in data collection technologies may not need to be that high. There are lots of free tools for web analytics, voice-of-the-customer research, site performance measurement, and so on. However, there is no point collecting data if you don’t have resources to analyze, interpret, and act on it. It’s not a question of whether you can afford to invest in these resources, as Art said, it’s a question of whether you can afford not to. This quote should be written in the footer of every business case for investment in analytical resources!
“Most people use statistics the way a drunkard uses a lamp post, more for support than illumination.”
– Mark Twain
This one is one of my favorites. The weekly report is the scourge of most organizations. It goes out every week, because it’s the weekly report. Most likely, this report was started by someone who is no longer in the organization. Most likely, it doesn’t tell anybody anything that they need to know. Next week, don’t send out the weekly report and see what happens!
“After all is said and done, more needs to have been done than said.”
– Neil Mason
OK, I cheated here, but this is along the lines of “actions speak louder than words.” The whole point of measurement and analysis is that it leads to different outcomes. Analytics is about making better decisions and reducing risk in the business. There’s no point having good data and sophisticated analysis if the results are not acted upon, either because of the organization’s culture or business processes. Successful use of analytics requires organizational agility to bring change and measure results. That’s what we mean by optimization.
So those are my favorite quotes about analytics. Has anyone got any others?
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