Gut Feeling or Analytics – which is better?

So I was talking with a CMO buddy of mine the other day over dinner and this topic came up. Of course you know as a CMO of a leading Social Media analytics firm – I think you can guess which side of this argument I was on. But seriously, my buddy honestly wanted to know – so what can you do with all this good social media analytics that you talk about? He really didn’t know.

So here is what I told him that marketers should be doing with analytics but haven’t truly adopted. I think part of the problem is that some of these tactics haven’t become a standard operating procedure but I can tell you folks that is exactly where we are heading. Marketing is the last big spend on the income statement and its our turn to show how we can be more effective with the same dollars.

One way is to use the analytics to create your ideal customer persona by interviewing your best, most profitable customers who have had the highest velocity in your pipeline. Use this persona to drive any ad plan, sponsorship plan or event plan.

Another way is to use the analytics to inform your media plans and to predict the outcome of a specific campaign.

Another way is to use the analytics to zero in on new messaging or even use those words to inform the SEO and SEM that you should be doing or buying.

Another way is to use it for product innovation, some companies are not crowdsourcing ideas for their products rather they are using the analytics to find a “white space” in the market where there is an unmet need – then launching a product or service to fill that need.

These ways are guaranteed to make you dollars more effective since you will know with certainty how effective those dollars will be in hitting a predefined target. How can you hit a target you can’t see – with good old gut feeling – I doubt it!

7 comments to Gut Feeling or Analytics – which is better?

  • Paul,

    You are both right. Analytics can only go so far. T.V. show pilots are an example. Analytics can only provide part of the story. Their analytics often fail to pick a winning show or a losing show. Analytics don’t account for emotion; why people like things, why they want specific features, capturing the ideal customer persona etc is only partly captured by analytics.

    The way our brain works is the emotional and the analytical are helplessly intertwined. The prefrontal cortex (the analytical region of the brain) can not make a decision without the emotional connection (dopamine and the cellular neurons that create our emotional response to things)

    The key is to combine analytics with gut. Too much gut and you can be wrong. Too much analytics and you WILL be wrong.

    Great layman book called, How We Decide talks much about this. Check it out.

    Been awhile buddy, hope all is good.

  • I really like this post – but I think I disagree with the gut feeling. A TED video which always had an impact on me was Hans Rosling – and I believe, after watching it a billion times, I feel he concludes that intuition is usually wrong. I am a big fan of data – and though not free, I would much rather be in a fox hole with it rather than without it.

    Great posts – I love them all.

  • Good points, Paul. I also believe analytics are invaluable for helping the CMO continually tune and refine his marketing spend. The marketing budget can be thought of like an investment portfolio – move funds from weak performers to high performers. The same approach works in marketing.

    Also, thank you for being a guest on the marketing show I host, Paul, Mad Marketing TV.

    Jeff Ogden, Find New Customers
    Host of Mad Marketing TV

  • Great post Paul. Talk about getting a kick in the pants.

  • Analytics provides data. Data increases our knowledge. But it is your gut mixed with a good amount of expertise that turns knowledge into leverage. The best part about analytics is you now have a real-time gut check meter.

  • Peter Altschuler

    Analytics and market research have rarely been responsible for major breakthroughs. Think Apple. Yet they can provide valuable insights about what’s happening right now. The problem is, in a world that can veer off in a new direction in the time it takes to send a tweet, that metrics can’t forecast. That’s where human calculation plays a role — in looking at the numbers, incorporating trends (directly or indirectly related to your business; recognized or emerging), and synthesizing it all into more than what to do now, i.e. what to do next.

  • Chris Williams

    Paul I think it has to be a combination. Using the lessons from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink I believe the theory put forward is your intuition ultimately selects the relevant analytics from the flood of analytics to get to the decision you feel most comforatble with. Look at the backlash against banking fees. The banks were not short on analytics yet failed to interpret them correctly? Good thought provoking exercise. Thanks!

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