Analytics are not the same as insights

Demographics and statistics are just numbers—unless you add insight to the mix and create branding opportunities.


Take a look around the Web—especially on social networks—and you’ll see a lot of people who represent brands complaining about their marketing results.

From folks griping about lack of action on a blog or website to those bemoaning little return on Facebook or LinkedIn, there’s a whole swath of people blaming the lack of success on anything and everything.

“Have you looked at why you’re failing?” you can ask, and you’ll get the response, “Yes—we have analytics installed, and we know we’re not getting the reach and results we’re looking for.”

Usually, that’s the crux of the problem right there. People confuse analytics with the solutions to their problem, when more than that is needed.

Analytics are not the same as insights

Don’t get me wrong—analytics are crucial, and if you’re not even tracking the most basic details of what you’re doing, you’re going to be screwed. Even the most basic analytics give you:

  • Traffic (in and out)
  • Demographics
  • What content works
  • What platform drives traffic
  • Behavior on site

Go more advanced, and you can get a heck of a lot of information about existing and potential customers.

You can see what time of day they like to be online, what type of browser they use (desktop, mobile, Apple, PC, etc.), what types of calls to action catch their eye and turn them from “just looking” to buyers, and much more.

If you run a business—or if you seek to run an online campaign for your business—and you’re not using analytics before, during, and after to guide your decisions and follow-ups, then you’re not being nearly effective enough to be successful.

As good as these analytics are, they’re only part of the equation; the bigger picture comes from what insights you glean from them, and what you do with these insights.

Insights are more than just good ideas

Once you have the information you need from whatever analytics package you use, the real work can begin. As an example, let’s say you’re looking to launch a book—here are some ways to use insights from analytics for your campaign to reach your audience.

1. Tablet and mobile browsing versus desktop

I love having a real book—there’s just something special about being able to flip a page, versus sliding your finger across a screen. But that’s just me; many of my friends are far more attuned to tablet and e-reader options.

By looking at your ideal audience’s demographics, browsing habits, etc., you can identify what their leaning is likely to be, and that can help define what your lead platform is—full print version, or digital with print to follow. You can also see which platform is best from an e-reader point of view—Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or other.

This gives you a better chance of being picked up right out of the gate.

2. Are they active socially?

Despite what many people might think, social media is still not mainstream for most of the world. Sure, Facebook might claim a billion members, but that’s nowhere near its active users. Same with Google+, Twitter, etc., but that doesn’t mean you can’t use these channels to market.

Before you begin your campaign, carry out an online audit to find out where your audience likes to hang out and, more important, when. It’s no good jumping on Facebook at 3 p.m. when your audience is mostly online from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Get to know which platforms they prefer, how they prefer to use them (for friends, via mobile, as a curation tool, etc.), and document the optimal time for you to be online. Couple that with the platform, and tailor your message accordingly.

Find groups and chats on Twitter to participate in—though dedicated to Canadian books, #CanLitChat is a good example of what’s on Twitter for authors and readers to participate in.

If a lot of your audience likes watching videos on YouTube, ask yourself if there’s an opportunity to set up a reading channel. Take excerpts of your book, read it, and ask for video feedback, with other YouTube users tagging your video. You might also run a contest for users to read the excerpt aloud, and the best delivery gets a copy of every one of your books free for life.

Additionally, start a reading group on Google+ and use Hangouts to have people pick apart your initial drafts, affording readers early glimpses into what they can expect. Having your audience invested in this way encourages them to support you when you do launch.

3. How to play to your demographics

Every product or service usually has a core audience. Yes, there are examples where age and sex don’t come into it and a product crosses generations—Apple products, for instance, and Thomas the Tank Engine (you know it’s true!). For the most part, though, most promotions need to be geared to a certain demographic.

Using your analytics and understanding who your audience is shapes the strategy behind your outreach.

As you can see from the chart above, published this year by Pingdom.com, there are very different demographics depending on what platform you’re on—or who your audience is.

Let’s say you’re going after the 35-44 age group. You might think that you should start on Facebook because, well, that’s where the whole world is, right? Not so fast, Skippy.

What about LinkedIn? That’s almost twice as much as Facebook for that particular demographic. Can you take advantage of groups or ads on there? How about Yelp: Can you work with local bookstores that cater to a loyal audience and hold personal readings?

Bigger yet, take a look at Slashdot and Quora. Although they may not be the first platforms that come to mind, you can see they’re hugely popular with your audience—so find out why. In these cases, it’s the question-and-answer format that attracts people.

Start to build a presence there, answer questions, ask your own, build your reputation, and then begin to ask questions around your book topic. You’ve built trust, gained an audience, and approached it properly when it comes to that platform—again, making your book (or service) more attractive and warmer to the touch of that audience and their pockets.

Data is everything, and everything is data

As you might guess, I’m a data nerd-because I love understanding what makes people tick. What gets their attention—how do you keep it? What turns them from a curious bystander to a purchaser or advocate?

Data can tell you all this and more—the trick is in knowing what to do with the data once you have them. Get that right, and you’re at an immediate advantage over your competitors.

And that’s never a bad thing, right?

Danny Brown is vice president of product intelligence at Jugnoo. He blogs at DannyBrown.me, where a version of this article originally ran.

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