It's Not The Ink, It's The Think: 6 Effective Data Visualization Strategies

Ten years, and the 944,357 words, are proof that I love purposeful data, collecting it, pouring smart strategies into analyzing it, and using the insights identified to transform organizations.
In the quest for that last important bit, I am insanely obsessive about 1. simplification and 2. pressing the right emotional buttons.
The reasons are that we all like complexity, it gives us energy :), we tend to be logical, and we often treat data output as the end when in reality the data output is just the start of the process that results in actions that deliver business impact.
Very often the output of our work with Big Data or Small Data, Google Analytics or R, will end up in a few cells of a spreadsheet or a table in Word/Keynote/PowerPoint. The stakes for this output are higher when we are in front of the Senior Leadership of any company, we have but a few minutes to communicate what we have to. Hence my two obsessions above.
In this post, with lots of pictures and real-world data examples, I want to share 6 different strategies you can leverage in service of simplification and pressing the right emotional buttons. Along our journey, I’ve also sprinkled in 15 universal truths that will bring you joy.
Here are the sections in this post:

An important assumption.
Death at the last-mile.
    1. Rebel against crapification via cluttering.
    2. Don’t fragment data, don’t forget higher order bits.
    3. Obsess with deleting information provided.
    4. Don’t run away, make the tough choices.
    5. So what? So What?? So WHAT!
    6. Sell smarter,

Read more...

Five Key Elements For A Big Analytics Driven Business Impact

There is, almost literally, an unlimited number of things you could focus on to create a high impact data-influenced organization.
And, as if unlimited is not enough, nearly every month your analytics vendors release new features, you discover new analytics solutions, and as your business is more successful (hurray!) there is a new mobile app to track or a new digital experience to problem-solve or a crazy online to offline campaign that upends everything unleashes a new layer of tactical activity.
In a world when your work will never be done, how do you assess that the core things necessary are present? How do you ensure that your can zig-zag with business strategy? What guarantees that agility and innovation are present in your analytics practice?
I believe there are five elements that have to be persistently present in the primordial soup at any company that expects amazing life to spring forth.
You’ll be surprised, there’s only one tool in that mix. It is not even an analytics tool. My reason for that is simple… At this point, it honestly does not matter which web analytics tool you use as long as it is a tool that is under active development by your vendor. Yes, some tools can dance on their left foot and others can only do so with their right foot. Not as important as you might think.
My recommended five elements are much more primal, their presence powers brilliant life to constantly evolve.
Here’s a little back story.
I was asked a few weeks back: “What companies should we proactively help with analytics, for free, so that they can make smarter data-influenced decisions?” I think the answer expected was my view related to

Read more...

Five Key Elements For A Big Analytics Driven Business Impact

There is, almost literally, an unlimited number of things you could focus on to create a high impact data-influenced organization.
And, as if unlimited is not enough, nearly every month your analytics vendors release new features, you discover new analytics solutions, and as your business is more successful (hurray!) there is a new mobile app to track or a new digital experience to problem-solve or a crazy online to offline campaign that upends everything unleashes a new layer of tactical activity.
In a world when your work will never be done, how do you assess that the core things necessary are present? How do you ensure that your can zig-zag with business strategy? What guarantees that agility and innovation are present in your analytics practice?
I believe there are five elements that have to be persistently present in the primordial soup at any company that expects amazing life to spring forth.
You’ll be surprised, there’s only one tool in that mix. It is not even an analytics tool. My reason for that is simple… At this point, it honestly does not matter which web analytics tool you use as long as it is a tool that is under active development by your vendor. Yes, some tools can dance on their left foot and others can only do so with their right foot. Not as important as you might think.
My recommended five elements are much more primal, their presence powers brilliant life to constantly evolve.
Here’s a little back story.
I was asked a few weeks back: “What companies should we proactively help with analytics, for free, so that they can make smarter data-influenced decisions?” I think the answer expected was my view related to

Read more...

Smarter Survey Results and Impact: Abandon the Asker-Puker Model!

Today’s post comes from a source of deep pain. Analysis Ninjas are valued less than I would prefer for them to be.
The post is also sourced from a recent edition of my newsletter, The Marketing – Analytics Intersect. I send it once a week, and it contains my insights and recommendations on those two topics. Like this blog, the newsletter is geared towards being instantly actionable (rather than just theory-smart, which is pretty cool too). Do sign up if you want to deliver a small electric shock of simulation to your brain each week.
TMAI #41 covered a graph that resulted from a survey done by Econsultancy and Lynchpin. I received a ton of responses for it, and great discussion ensued. It prompted me to write this post, essentially an expanded version of TMAI #41. I’ve added new insights, recommendations, and two bonus lessons on how to do surveys better and a direct challenge to your company’s current analytics strategy.
If your heart is weak, you can stop reading now. I promise, I won’t mind one bit. I heart you. If you are open to being challenged… then here are the short-stories inside this post…

The World Needs Reporting Squirrels. Wait. What!
Three thoughts that explain the Econsultancy/Lynchpin graph.
Bonus #1: Lessons from Econsultancy/Lynchpin Survey Strategy.
Bonus #2: The Askers-Pukers Business Model.
Bottom-line.

Let’s go and challenge our collective thinking!
The World Needs Reporting Squirrels. Wait. What!
Some of you know that I created the phrases Reporting Squirrels and Analysis Ninjas to emphasize the difference between those that puke data and those that puke insights with actions attached to them.
Here is my slide the first time I presented the concept in a

Read more...

Be Real-World Smart: A Beginner's Advanced Google Analytics Guide

Being book smart is good. The outcome of book smart is rarely better for analytics practitioners then folks trying to learn how to fly an airplane from how-to books.
Hence, I have been obsessed with encouraging you to get actual data to learn from. This is all the way from Aug 2009: Web Analytics Career Advice: Play In The Real World! Or a subsequent post about how to build a successful career: Web Analytics Career Guide: From Zero To Hero In Five Steps. Or compressing my experience into custom reports and advanced segments I’ve shared.
The problem for many new or experienced analysts has been that they either don’t have access to any dataset (newbies) or the data they have access to is finite or from an incomplete or incorrect implementation (experienced). For our Market Motive Analytics training course, we provide students with access to one ecommerce and one non-ecommerce site because they simply can’t learn well enough from my magnificent videos. The problem of course is that not everyone is enrolling our course! 🙂
All this context is the reason that I am really, really excited the team at Google has decided to make a real-world dataset available to everyone on planet Earth (and to all intelligent life forms in the universe that would like to learn digital analytics).
The data belongs to the Google Merchandise Store, where incredibly people buy Google branded stuff for large sums of money (average order value: $115.67, eat your heart out Amazon!). And, happily, it has almost all of the Google Analytics features implemented correctly. This gives Earth’s residents almost all the reports we would like to look at, and hence do almost all

Read more...

Ad Block Tracking With Google Analytics: Code, Metrics, Reports

You don’t use an ad blocker, right? Of course not! You would never want to take away the opportunity a content creator has online to monetize their work via ads.
I know that at least some of you think I’m being sarcastic. I am not, and this post is all about getting the data to show you that I am indeed not being sarcastic.
I am insanely excited that we can track ad blocking behavior in Google Analytics, so easily. This post covers these key elements:
Here’s how this post unfolds…

1. Ad block: #wth
2. Technical how-to implement enhanced code guidance (Google Tag Manager or direct)
3. Setting Google Analytics front end elements (custom dimensions, advanced segments)
4. Five Reports and KPIs that deliver critical insights from ad blocking behavior

While you could call on your favorite IT BFF to do this for you, let me encourage you by saying that if I can do this all by myself…. You can do it too! Honestly, it is that easy.
Excited? Let’s go!
1. Ad block: #wth
The reason you might think I was being sarcastic above is that there is such venom in the media (of course the media!) about people who use ad blockers, and an incredible amount of hoopla around how the only reason media is dying is the awful people using ad blockers in their web browsers.
The reality is not quite that cut and dry.
First, plant me firmly in the column of people who believe that using an ad blocker is a personal choice, each person makes the moral decision they are most comfortable with. Second, I believe that the let me make cheap money by

Read more...

A Great Analyst's Best Friends: Skepticism & Wisdom!

Here’s something important I’ve observed in my experience in working with data, and changing organizations with ideas: Great Analysts are always skeptical. Deeply so.
This was always true, of course. But, it has become mission critical over the last few years as the depth, breadth, quantity and every other dimension you could apply to data has simply exploded. There is too much data. There are too many tables/charts/”insights” being rammed down your throat. There has been an explosion of “experts.”
If you are not skeptical, you are going to die (from a professional perspective).
And, yet… You can’t be paralyzed by skepticism. At some point, you have to jump. Or, you are dead (again, professionally).
Let’s do this post in two pieces.
First, a plea to be skeptical, of everything and everybody, illustrated using an example from one of the most respected sources of data out there. Followed, by advice on getting to a decision rather than what happens to poor analysts: paralysis.
Second, as we are on the topic of great analysts, I want to share how to recognize that you might be one, from a macro perspective, and, if you are, or are not, what’s your value to your company.
Surely, you are intrigued!
#1A: Skepticism is your BFF.
I saw these two numbers presented the other day: 42% of online shoppers use video for pre-purchase research. 64% use YouTube to find products.
As soon as I heard them, I knew they were horse-manure.
The source of skepticism was simple, neither number is true for me – and I’m in a place, with people, who are the most connected people on the planet with more devices to do this type of research if it was true.

Read more...

The Marketing < > Analytics Intersect: My Newsletter!

I want you to sign up for something very, very special I’m doing: Writing short stories from the intersection of marketing and analytics.
My goal is to get you promoted, you are going to love it. So. Please do sign up. But, first, as you’ve come to expect from this blog… Context…
Should you own or rent?
The logic we are taught from when we were babies is that it is better to own than rent. Reality is actually a bit more complicated.
In our context, let’s consider two applications of own and rent.
In the past I’ve spoken about own vs. rent in context of platforms. Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn are platforms where you rent your existences. Mobile and desktop websites, mobile applications are platforms you own. You own the content, you set your own creativity limits (no 140 characters or videos of only xx resolution), and you own the data on platforms you own.
I’ve also spoken about own vs. rent in context of audiences. You rent audiences on TV, Magazines, Search, Display, etc. You own audiences on your email lists, on forums you host etc.
Audiences and platforms, two places to bring our own and rent lens.
Before we go on, a quick word on the word own. It does feel odd to say you own anyone/thing. Own in this context is like as much ownership as you can apply to a seed you plant in your front yard. You need to protect it, you need to nurture it, you need to champion on its behalf, and you need to be unselfish for a long, long, long time, and maybe some day you get flowers. And, here’s the most amazing thing, if

Read more...

Rock Analytics More: Obsess About Goals And Goal Values!

If you don’t have goals, you are not doing digital analytics. You are doing i am wasting earth’s precious oxygenalytics.
Let’s back up. Let me start with a story.
We were brain storming about the next cluster of coolness for Analytics, the conversation quickly went to what Analysts need to look at on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. I started to outline a simple framework that stated that no one should look at anything daily (that should all be automated and run off automated or custom set thresholds – things don’t really change materially on a daily basis), weekly should be based on stuff that borders reporting squirrel work and pinches of analysis ninja work, and monthly…. well super analysis ninja stuff. And, then I started to redefine what daily, weekly and monthly even means. From there, it is only a hop, skip and jump to the most deadly question in analytics….

What’s the business solving for?

Everything came to a screeching halt. This beautiful daily, weekly, monthly blog post I was drafting in my head to share my excitement with you about thinking analysis differently went poof.
It pains me how critical it is to know what the heck we are solving for with our analytics, and how few people identify goals for their website (mobile or desktop). The reason is simple: If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll get somewhere and you’ll be miserable.
We see this everyday. “Analysts” spewing data out left right and center, after spending so much time tagging and re-tagging and Google Tag Managering. Yet, few Marketers or executives take them seriously (because they don’t know what the heck all that means to the business

Read more...

Excellent Analytics Tip #27: Chase Smart Calculated Metrics!

For the last decade (#omg!), I’ve consistently complained about a fundamental flaw in Web Analytics tools: They incentivize one night stands, rather than engagements matching customer-intent.
This leads to owners of digital experiences (insanely) expecting all visitors to their websites to convert right away – anything less than that is a failure. Damn the intent the customer is expressing.
It also results in Marketers obsess about awful things like last-click conversions (die last-click attribution die!). They make silly user experience decisions (Searching for car insurance options? We will remove every single thing from the page except a GET QUOTE button. Ha! Sucks to be you Visitor!). They never consider Think or Care intent, all they obsess about is Do intent (See-Think-Do-Care business framework). Not even all of the Do, just the strongest of commercial intent. The very bottom of the Do! It really is quite crazy.
You’ll agree all of this sounds quite insane. Not just insane, so visibly insane that everyone should see through it and fix their minds/reports/strategies. So, why are we still so obviously wrong and still on the insane path?
Simple. It is just how all of the Digital Analytics tools are configured at their very core.
Every standard report in every standard tool is configured off Visits (or in Google Analytics language, Sessions), rather than Visitors (GA language, Users). The specific metric I’ve been mad about since day one of this blog (May 14th, 2006!) is Conversion Rate. It is measured as Orders/Visits. [Or, its variation Outcomes/Sessions]
Built into that is the mental model that if you visit a website, then every Visit has to result in money for the site owner. Else, it is a failed visit. Scroll

Read more...