Alex Abell

John Rambo or James Bond: What kind of marketing action hero are you?

November 24th, 2014

While you may never have to battle gangs of ninjas, jump from flaming helicopters, or defeat eye-patch-laden villains in bloody shootouts, an entirely different type of action is required of today’s marketer.

If you’re facing opposition in the form of endless reporting that never seems to make a difference, it might be time to find the hero within and add some action to your everyday work life. Are you ready to act strategically, rally supporters and face the adventure of changing your organization for the better?

Every week, our sister publication MarketingSherpaanalytics-action-hero-cover holds a free book giveaway featuring volumes that help marketers reach more customers, navigate the workplace, or just generally do their jobs more effectively.

This week’s book is Web Analytics Action Hero: Using Analysis to Gain Insight and Optimize Your Business by Brent Dykes, Evangelist for Customer Analytics, Adobe.

You’re probably wondering, “How can a Web analytics book help me discover my inner Lara Croft or Indiana Jones?” Brent has worked with industry leaders such as Microsoft, Sony, EA, Dell, Comcast and Nike. He also blogs for Adobe and has presented at more than 20 Web analytics conferences around the world.

He is a seasoned expert in using data to transform the way we do business. If anyone can tell you how to start driving actionable, data-driven change and defeat the organizational villains we all face, it’s Brent.

His book keeps an entertaining tone while being packed with informative models and examples of how to drive fact-based marketing decisions. It is essentially a how-to for becoming an action hero of science-based marketing and analysis.

The book did a great job reinforcing some of the things I’ve learned on the job as a MECLABS Optimization Analyst, planning strategy and experiments that fuel the content we produce at MarketingSherpa and MarketingExperiments.



Brent speaks to real-life work situations, and since reading his book, I’ve been able to deliver actionable analyses more effectively and use his models to become better at my job in Web optimization.

I had a chance to speak with the Web Analytics Action Hero himself to pick his brain on what it takes to be the Han Solo of the office.



MarketingExperiments: Who does data-driven analysis apply to, and why should they read your book?

Brent Dykes: Well, I think being data driven and using analysis is really important. The hype around big data has obviously created more of an interest in using and understanding data. I come from a marketing background, and I’ve worked in marketing long enough to remember those days where the vast majority of marketing decisions were being made on intuition—not data.

The digital channel has revolutionized the way we market today. It has ushered in new measurement opportunities that weren’t possible before. In general, it is easier to track digital media than traditional media, and you can get more granular detail as well. With all of the new metrics at the disposal of marketers, the data is susceptible to being misused.

It can’t be, “Hey, I wonder what metrics will make my campaign look good.” Being data-driven isn’t just about using data; it’s about using the right data in the right ways.

I think more people, not just analysts, are realizing they need to understand the data a little bit better.

I haven’t seen it 100% yet, but I think their managers are holding them more accountable to the numbers. So, I think everybody needs to embrace data-driven marketing, and that’s executives all the way down to the interns. Everybody needs to learn.


ME: With all the KPIs out there that can be tracked, how has the role of a marketer changed?

BD: Data is definitely changing the role of marketers. We’re seeing more accountability for marketers. They’re being held more accountable for how they allocate and spend their marketing budgets. Now, every marketer needs to be comfortable with data.

This shift may find some marketers who aren’t that comfortable with data. There have been different articles such as one from the Wall Street Journal that showed how data-savvy marketers are gaining a foothold in the corner office. A lot of the old guard in marketing are now feeling threatened by data. They’ll either need to adapt or continue to lose relevance.

It’s true that we have a lot more metrics and data out there. It can generate a lot of unwanted noise for marketers.

However, as I highlighted in the book, our compass for navigating all this data is having a clear understanding of what’s important to the business.

If you really understand your key business goals or objectives, then you’ll have a better sense for which data is important and which data isn’t important.

Also, the data you will need is going to change over time. Businesses are not static. As such, your organization’s goals will change, and as a result, your metrics and KPIs will need to evolve as well.


ME: What are some characteristics that we’ll find in the book on how to become an action hero in Web analytics?

BD: There are three key factors that influence whether someone can become an action hero in Web analytics.

First is ability. Some skills can be taught while others are innate. You can learn about digital marketing or how to use an analytics tool, but someone can’t be taught to be curious or intelligent. It’s also not all about having a sharp analytical mind. You need to have soft skills to go with it, such as interpersonal and communication skills.

The next thing is having the right environment. I’ve seen really smart analysts fail just because they weren’t getting support from their management team. Maybe they didn’t have an executive sponsor for the analytics practice within their organization. Maybe their company wasn’t willing to invest in the right tools or provide any training to employees.

It doesn’t matter how much ability you have if you’re only one person for a very large organization. You can simply be out-manned and not have the resources to really deliver value from the data.

After ability and environment comes the approach. My book really focuses on the approach you take as an action hero. I break it up into three key steps.

First, you need to be efficient in where you focus your analysis time—prioritization is critical. There’s so much you can analyze, but not everything warrants your time.

Next, you need to be systematic in the way that you analyze the data and so I lay out a methodology for conducting your analysis.brent-dykes-quote

Then, the last step is to mobilize people around your ideas. You could be a data scientist with a Ph.D. in statistics, but if you can’t communicate your findings and insights effectively, then you’ll have very little impact on your organization.

Ultimately, the reason why I focus on action heroes in my book is because if your analysis is not driving action, you’re not driving change. If your insights aren’t changing things, then you’re failing as an analyst or data-driven marketer. And so, that last step of communicating, being a data story-teller, and mobilizing people around your ideas is really critical.


ME: One of the things I want to talk about is the villains that analysts in different departments are going to come across. Can you lay out some of the villains that a Web analytics action hero may have to combat within their organization?

BD: Yes, it was fun to put together a list of villains that Web analytics action heroes will encounter. If you think about the action hero movies that you’ve seen, they usually have a villain or two. I thought it would be helpful to highlight some of the different villains that can wreak havoc for aspiring analytics action heroes.

In the book, I introduce each of the villains and then show tips on how to defeat them. Because every villain has weaknesses, it’s rare that the villain will win in the end. My goal is to ensure my readers can defeat these data villains.

An obvious villain in my book is Analysis Paralysis, where analysts become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of data and potential analysis options. Another familiar villain is The Gut, where intuition is the ruler of the day. It’s not about the numbers but someone’s unsubstantiated opinion.

Doctor Feel Good is where people look at the metrics, but then there’s no accountability. Nobody wants to hurt anybody’s feelings. Even though the metrics or data are showing something’s wrong, nobody’s doing anything about it.

Fire Drill is where analysts are constantly going from one emergency to the next. In this stressful environment, analysts aren’t able to get ahead and generate much value; they’re just putting out one fire after the next.

The Justifier is where somebody has a point they want to prove, and they seek data to justify their idea. If the data actually refutes the point they want to make, then it will be viewed as wrong and ignored or buried.

The Lemming is somebody who chases shiny objects. They follow whatever analytics trends are popular, but they don’t stop and evaluate whether it’s really important to their business or not.

I won’t go into all ten of the villains I cover in my book, but the other ones are the Perfectionist, Stale Data, Suspect Data and the Teflon Man. If you’ve dabbled with data in any way, you’ve probably run into many of these villains already.


ME: You really stress aligning with business goals. How does that encourage action within the company?

BD: Well, when you’re going to do analysis, one of the key challenges is that many different paths lay before you. There are all kinds of really interesting things you can investigate. Many of these paths can lead you astray. You can end up investing a lot of hours analyzing things that don’t really matter to your business.

The business objectives – really understanding what’s important to your business – keeps you grounded. It keeps you focused on what’s important, and steers you away from distractions in the data. When you’re trying to affect a certain business goal, it will keep you focused and productive in your analysis efforts.

As I said before, we’ve got all kinds of data, and it can be really confusing and really overwhelming. Having a clear idea of your business objectives or goals is really the first step to making sense of which data and metrics to focus on.

Once you understand the business goals, the next question is what’s my ability to influence change? In some areas, you’re not able to influence change due to a lack of resources or time to implement your recommendations. It’s important to know that up front so you don’t waste time on analyzing things you can’t influence.

After I know I can influence change, I then need to ask: What’s the potential impact? Could this have a big influence on the business?

Then, also, what’s my level of effort? Maybe as I start looking at this, I scratch the surface and realize, “Oh, this is going to take me hundreds of hours to analyze,” and if it’s not going to have a good payoff then it’s not worth my time. So you have to balance these considerations so you can be efficient and effective with the data.

We have a finite amount of time, and we can’t look at everything. If you focus on things that matter to the business that you personally can influence, you’re more likely to drive change and action.

Another thing about business goals is they’re usually prioritized. Not all business goals are equally important. Some business goals may pale in comparison to your company’s primary business goal. So prioritization of the business goals will also influence where you should invest your time and what you should analyze.


ME: To wrap things up, what’s a piece of advice that you have for the aspiring action hero that’s kind of all-encompassing for everybody?

BD: I think the key thing is to not be afraid of the data. To get in and start using it as much as you can. In the book, I talk about the concept of Setupland and Actionland. One of the things that I’ve noticed in working in this industry for the last 10-plus years is that too many companies get stuck in Setupland.

They go through all the work of gathering requirements, getting the tags in place and collecting the data. And then, they get caught in a vicious cycle of just doing more tagging and reporting, but never really going beyond that.

I think the key behind the action hero book is emphasizing the importance of analyzing or using the data. OK, reports are great, but they’re fairly static. They can’t do anything on their own.

We must dive into the data to find insights that we can then bring back to the business. Hopefully, through this process, some positive change occurs.

Collectively, we need to move beyond Setupland and spend more time in Actionland, where the real benefits from Web analytics live. More analysis, not more reports, is the key to success.




If you want a chance to pick Brent’s brain in more detail, make sure to enter our weekly book giveaway. He’s also recently written an introductory 192-page Web Analytics Kick Start Guide e-book, which we’re giving away FREE to everyone who enters the book giveaway.




You might also like

Marketing Research Chart: Marketing analytics challenges [MarketingSherpa chart]

Marketing Data: Using predictive analytics to make sense of big data [More from the blogs]

Marketing Analytics: Now that marketers can collect data, interpretation is the top challenge [More from the blogs]

Testing and Optimization: 4 inspirational examples of experimentation and success [More from the blogs]

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Digg

Categories: Analytics & Testing Tags: , , , , ,

John Tackett

Copywriting: Brevity is the soul of marketing

November 20th, 2014

I’ve always loved this quote:

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” – William Shakespeare

To me, its beauty rests in the powerful meaning packed in six simple words. Brevity can also be used as a tool to aid your marketing, as I discovered from a recent email experiment.

But first, a little more detail about the experiment.

Background: A global producer of high-quality audio equipment and accessories.

Goal: To increase clickthrough rates in an email.

Research Question: Which email will generate the highest clickthrough rate?

Test Design: A/B multifactor, radical redesign split test


Control email-test-control


In a preliminary review of the control, the MECLABS research team hypothesized the control was at risk of underperforming and could use some strategic tweaks.

Read more…

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Digg

Categories: Analytics & Testing Tags: , , , , , ,

Jessica Lorenz

Co-creation: The next realization of value-based marketing

November 17th, 2014

“If I am your ideal customer, why should I purchase your product rather than any other product?” – Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS (parent company of MarketingExperiments)

At MarketingExperiments, researchers have used this question to develop value propositions over the past 20 years.

Many things have changed over the past couple decades, which has now, more than ever, left room for the customer to answer the value prop question.

Recently, Professor Wouter Van Rossum, a leading expert on value proposition and product development, held an Academic Lecture Series at MECLABS headquarters in Jacksonville, Fla., where he discussed the evolution of a value proposition in a post-Twitter world.

“Companies don’t want to hear [feedback],” Van Rossum explained, “They don’t like to hear it.”

But, in an era where customers can ask questions and interact with not only the company, but fellow dissatisfied customers online and demand a more and more personalized experience, it “more or less forces companies into co-creation.”


Defining co-creation

Co-creation implies a situation where both parties profit in terms of exchange value.



A “perfect example of co-creation,” according to Van Rossum is Threadless, a company that allows designers to submit art for T-shirts, among other commodities. Customers then vote on designs they want to purchase.

If the design is picked up by Threadless, the designers earn a portion of the profits from T-shirts sold and this creates an exchange of value.

Co-creation of exchange value, according to Van Rossum, implies that the company should determine a value proposition that will account for the customer’s contribution and result in a win-win situation for both the customer and the business.

In the case of Threadless: The company queues up designs that they know will be popular and purchased. The designer earns not only monetary rewards but also has work to add to their portfolio. Both parties benefit from the relationship and business model.

Read more…

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Digg

Categories: Marketing Insights Tags: , ,

Josh Wilson

Customer Anxiety: One element of the MECLABS Conversion Heuristic explained

November 13th, 2014

If you have participated in a MECLABS, MarketingExperiments or MarketingSherpa event or education program, you may have been exposed to the patented Conversion Heuristic.

It looks like this:

C = 4m + 3v + 2(i – f) – 2a

If you haven’t seen this before, it can be explained in minutes. However, it can take decades to master.

My hope is this MarketingExperiments Blog post will help you gain a basic understanding of the Conversion Heuristic, and specifically, understand the anxiety element in the heuristic.

Each letter in the Conversion Heuristic represents a psychological, emotional or physical element affecting a prospect’s choice to say “yes” or “no” to your offer.

Each number represents the weight or importance each element carries in guiding the prospect to your offer, or away from your offer.

The element “C” represents the probability of conversion. A conversion in this instance describes the event when a prospect becomes a customer.

This event is the foundation of business; without conversion, a business ceases to exist. To increase the probability of conversion, it is important to understand the elements within the Conversion Heuristic. In this post, I will highlight the “anxiety” element present in every conversion process.

Here is the Conversion Heuristic again: C = 4m + 3v + 2(i – f) – 2a

C = Probability of conversion

m = Motivation of the customer

v = Force of your value proposition

i = Incentive

f = Friction

a = Anxiety


Customer anxiety

It is very important to remember that your prospects are people. They have thoughts, feelings, needs and desires. When there is product or service being offered to a prospect, that prospect may have questions or concerns.

This psychological concern occurs within the prospect’s mind.

Anxiety is a real concern that the prospect may have regarding your offer. The prospect may not even be aware that it is happening, but when corrected or addressed, there can be some significant lifts in your conversion rate.

Here are some examples of anxieties that people may have when making purchases online.


Is my credit card information safe?


  Read more…

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Digg

Categories: Marketing Insights Tags: , , , ,

Daniel Burstein

How to Improve Conversion of Your Online Ads

November 10th, 2014

From pay-per-click advertising to display ads, all online advertising is a micro-yes, a step in the process to the ultimate conversion.

To help you improve conversion of this micro-yes, Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, created the MECLABS Online Ad Sequence based on online advertising experimentation for both B2B and consumer marketers.

How can you improve conversion of your online ads? Focus on the three factors identified in the sequence:



Let me explain the elements in the sequence in a little further detail.


Effectiveness of the ad

This isn’t an equation to be solved. This is a heuristic, or thought tool (kind of like checklist) to guide your thinking as you look to optimize your online advertising.

The more you improve the elements to the right of the equation side, the more you will be able to increase the effectiveness of your ad.

  Read more…

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Digg

Categories: Marketing Insights Tags: , , ,

David Kirkpatrick

Testing and Optimization: 4 inspirational examples of experimentation and success

November 6th, 2014

At our sister publication, MarketingSherpa, we publish four case study beats – B2B, B2C, Email and Inbound – with stories covering actual marketing efforts from your peers each week. Not every case study features a testing and optimization element, but many do.

For this MarketingExperiments Blog post, I wanted to share a quick summary of several of these case studies, along with links to the entire article (including creative samples) in case any pique your interest and you want to dig into the entire campaign.

So, without further ado, read on for four MarketingSherpa case studies that feature testing and optimization of various digital marketing channels, strategies and tactics.


Case Study #1. 91% conversion lift from new copy and layout

This case study features AwayFind, a company that provides mobile email alerts, and covers an effort to test, and hopefully improve, its homepage performance.

Brian Smith, Director of Marketing, AwayFind, said, “Our primary driver of traffic is our PR efforts. Our homepage is effectively our primary landing page, and we need to convert that traffic into premium users.”

The testing included both changing copy and layout elements. The main copy change was instead of focusing on features, the treatment copy focused on benefits, and layout tweaks included a shortened headline, the remaining copy was split between a subhead and a smaller block of text, and the color of the subhead text was also modified.

In this test, the treatment achieved:

  • 42% increase in clicks to the sign-up page
  • 91% increase in registrations for the trial

  Read more…

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Digg

Categories: Analytics & Testing Tags: , , ,