… they will just make it easier, (or debating data vs. intuition to drive your digital marketing)
I read this blog from Noah Kagan recently that, among other things, raises this very catchy fact that says that “only 1 out of 8 A/B tests have driven significant change” (in their case).
Quite an interesting read even if on an online marketing vendor blog. Not a revolution, but good factual feedback from the ground. It tells me something I already know, but that is always good to hear from others.
In these time where we are all about Big Data, strongly believing in Metric-driven online marketing; more and more thinking data scientist is the new specie that will save the world, or at least our online businesses; it’s good to remember these are not the drivers. There is indeed a big tendency to praise analysis now, analyzing all and every single thing, diving into numbers, KPIs, analytics, metrics, reports; a tendency to think these will not only support but lead the marketing discipline. We could even see a tendency for discouraging people to believe in their good sense and their intuition first, to push them to a more “scientific approach” by trying all possibilities. I think this is a very dangerous direction.
Yes, Digital Marketing is nothing without measurement
Don’t get me wrong, I am a big believer that online marketing can not work without measurement. “If you’re not measuring marketing, you’re not marketing” as my colleague Nico likes to say. In some areas (like inbound marketing, demand and lead generation), the only way to know and validate the efficiency of your marketing effort is using measurements and numbers and I’m the first to think any thing you do in that field should be measured.
This being said, while measurements can turn into analysis, or potentially into prescription or recommendation, they can certainly not be in the driver’s seat! It cannot take over our marketer’s brains, ideas and intuition. It can only help or influence them.
Still, analytics can not replace ideas and intuition (but it can kill them…)
At eZ, I am working a lot on tools that can help optimize digital experiences (aka CXM – customer experience management). There is a big engineering and scientific effort to make tools that will always be better and smarter in order to measure and recommend changes. Technology can be extremely powerful and I am very impressed to see up to where we can take the optimization and recommendation effort!
Still, what Noah Kagan reminds us is that the kinds of tools we build here are nothing without the brain that uses them. One of the biggest risks is to rely too much on optimization tools, up to a point where you could ask your editors to simply write as much content as they can (or even emulate them with robots), letting the platform running a/b or multivariate to pick against the combinations of as many variations the ones that bring the best results. Yes we can do that, but, without the brain picking the right variations, it will go nowhere. It will only generate ever increasing big data and consume computing time as well as human data-scientist time!
Marketing can only work when you first have well-inspired choices
This approach is dangerous and this might hurt our industry. The risk is that we might not deliver on the promises we generate. Tools and methods like A/B testing or even Marketing Automation can only work when you first have well-inspired choices that you consider interesting, but different, and you want to test them. There might be no need to compare in too much detail small variations, and the game is certainly not to compare all possible variations.
By giving too much credit to machines, we might put ourselves, web professionals, in danger. If we want our tools to bring value we should clearly say how, and the very important prerequisite is to have digital marketers, creative people and writers crafting content and campaigns with inspiration and intuition. No, the Data-scientists and their robots certainly have not taken over the online marketing arena.
As long as we are always conscious of that, and keep room for it, the technology we will craft will deliver very high value that really helps businesses.
And to conclude on this topic, here is a fresh look at Singularity,