The quotes below are followed with a brief explanation of how they relate to analytics.
In God we trust, all others must bring data.
Don’t expect smart people to listen to you without proof.
Learn the basics of analytics and people will love you. If you don’t have time to learn, hire someone.
Sound strategy starts with having the right goal.
Without a goal analytics is aimless and worthless.
A target should go with every goal. A target is the value that defines success.
If a strategy meets a goal: It’s working.
If a strategy meets a target: It’s a success.
You never know how many apples there are in a seed.
You never know what could happen when you carry out a new strategy.
I want to stress having a target for your goal.
In this example the goal of planting the seed is to harvest apples. Your target might be no apples if you are planting the tree for shade. If you produce apple juice you probably have a higher target number of apples for each tree.
Targets must be high enough to cover costs of the strategy.
Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.
90% of the data you collect will never be actionable or even helpful. (I made that up because I can’t actually measure it.)
Analytics will never tell you everything you want to know.
Assumptions are made and most assumptions are wrong.
The essence of mathematics lies in its freedom.
Great innovation only happens when people aren’t afraid to do things differently.
I like creativity in data collection. Here are a few creative Google Analytics tracking ideas I have seen:
Use Campaign link tagging labels all for specifying slight differences in content for split testing.
Don’t always blindly follow guidance and step-by-step instructions; you might run into something interesting.
A person who is gifted sees the essential point and leaves the rest as surplus.
There is so much data available to us, but most data won’t help us succeed.
If you are looking at data over and over you better be taking away valuable insight every time. If you are constantly looking at data that isn’t leading to strategic action stop wasting your time and look for more Actionable Analytics.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
Everyone thinks this way at some point. The important thing is to power through and get to learning. If you really don’t have the time Let Me Handle Your Analytics.
Most people use statistics the way a drunkard uses a lamp post, more for support than illumination.
If the metrics you are looking at aren’t useful in optimizing your strategy – stop looking at them.
All you drunkards: Put down the intoxicating Vanity Metrics.
If you need help identifying actionable analytics check out this post.
No Such Thing as Bad Results
Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won’t work.
Every failure is a lesson learned about your strategy.
Failure is the most effective technique to optimize strategic planning, implementation and processes.
You cannot succeed in a vacuum; there needs to be substance and resistance or your world is no more than a dream.
Don’t sit around waiting for results. If you want to start something put it out there TODAY.
What’s the worst that can happen? If your idea is that bad at least you will have a result to move forward from.
No one is going to remember that time you brought up the bad idea at that one meeting or your failed YouTube channel.
There is no such thing as failure. There are only results.
Do something. Get results. Decide if it’s worth repeating.
If the results don’t scream: “Do this again!” Try something new.
If you torture the data long enough, it will confess.
:: Ronald Coase (No that’s not Colonel Sanders)
I hate when people ask me to: “Massage the data”.
Ronnie had it right calling it Torture. That is a much more accurate description the way I see it.
Data can’t speak for itself; it’s up to you to give it a voice. Try to speak truthfully.
Statistics are like women; mirrors of purest virtue and truth, or like whores to use as one pleases.
Keep your analysis pure and virtuous.
Don’t sugar-coat results.
Don’t make yourself look good when your strategy fails.
Don’t make others look good if their strategy failed.
Dangers of Statistical Analysis
The average human has one breast and one testicle.
A bit ridiculous, but true. The moral of this story is to separate men and women when analyzing number of sexual organs.
Take some time to play around with segmentation. If you can pinpoint your best and worst customers it’s well worth the time.
The reason for your poor projections is often right in front of you. Whether you are using statistical analysis or just an average, sometimes the way you are calculating your numbers doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes it’s best to get up, take a walk, and revisit your calculations later. I have returned to my work many times and said: “Why the hell would I calculate it like that?”
Say you were standing with one foot in the oven and one foot in an ice bucket. According to the percentage people, you should be perfectly comfortable.
All you nerds out there (me included) – don’t always rely on stats for the perfect answer.
Sometimes the best solution is simplification.
Segmenting your sample is one of the easiest ways to simplify.
Clarity in Presentation
Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it.
Most analysts are SO SMART and have amazing ideas, but they can’t convey their genius ideas to others.
This is the biggest problem in analytics today.
One of my favorite bloggers who can articulate his ideas clearly is Avinash Kaushik. The only problem? His ideas are so awesome his posts are a mile long, but I promise they are worth the time.
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
Anyone can repeat a technical explanation they read in a text-book or blog post.
True knowledge comes with deep understanding of a topic and its inner workings.
Here’s a Challenge: Study a complicated topic in such detail that anyone interested can nod their head and understand as you explain specific concepts within the topic.
The greatest value of a picture is when it forces us to notice what we never expected to see.
This is my favorite part about analytics: Taking boring flat data and bringing it to life through visualization.
When communicating results to non-technical types there is nothing better than a clear visualization to make your point.
Visualization is often used for evil – twisting insignificant data changes and making them look meaningful. Don’t do that crap if you want to be my friend. Present results clearly and honestly. If something isn’t working – those reviewing results need to know.
One of my favorite ways to easily review results is Google Analytics Dashboards. Don’t have dashboards set up? I can help you set one up.
Developing a Strategy
Sustaining high business performance is a product of continuous strategic alignment.
Use results to optimize strategy.
New strategies will usually come from results or at least observations you have made in your metrics.
I usually stay away from blind strategy: strategy developed without consideration of past results. The only exception is when no existing strategies have been successful. When old isn’t working, try something new.
The consequences of things are not always proportionate to the apparent magnitude of those events that have produced them.
Thus the American Revolution, from which little was expected, produced much; but the French Revolution, from which much was expected, produced little.
My take away here is to not make assumptions when analyzing data. It might be safe to assume you Facebook page will produce more results than your MySpace page, but you never know what could happen; I’ve seen stranger things.
Most importantly: Don’t adjust your results to build up the ego of the chief strategist. Especially if the strategist is you.
Be real and adjust you strategy according to honest results.
Sometimes you gotta run before you can walk.
Don’t be afraid that you don’t have what it takes to get shit done. Just start doing it!
This is the last quote for 2 reasons:
1) It’s my favorite. 2) It didn’t fit anywhere else.
Now go out and put this advice to work!
Tell me your favorite analytics quote!