Back to Basics: How every marketer can tame the analytics beast


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For most marketers, analytics exists in a magic Pandora’s box, encompassing everything from CPCs to CTRs, from algorithms to artificial intelligence, from machine learning to quantum computing — with a bit of blockchain sprinkled in for good measure.

Buzzwords aside, the barriers to incorporating analytics into your life aren’t as high as analytics behemoths may make it seem. To the contrary, once you clarify a few misconceptions, you can make this seemingly enigmatic field not only relevant but also remarkably useful.

You don’t need an Excalibur

Cost is an often-cited obstacle to starting a data journey. Despite the shiny advertisements, you may see for Adobe’s Marketing Cloud (which costs upwards of $100,000 a year) and the dozens of LinkedIn messages you get from martech salespeople; you don’t need Fortune 500 money to take a stab at unlocking analytics. Google Analytics, Google Search Trends, Hotjar and HubSpot are just a few examples of industry-standard platforms that can dramatically improve your decision-making capabilities for free.

Even better, these platforms are made for data amateurs. Their interfaces are straightforward, and if you get lost, there are countless tutorials, help forums, boot camps and even classes to help you. Google also offers a certification program for Google Analytics, complete with videos and walkthroughs. It’s perfect for anyone who needs a place to start.

Don’t let the tool guide be the craftsman

Marketers often forget that data is merely a tool. Expecting a Google Analytics tag to fix your website is like throwing a hammer at your newly opened IKEA purchase and expecting a sofa to emerge.

In other words: Collecting data is the easy part. Understanding what to do with all this info is where the magic happens.

So, spend a few weeks studying how to interpret data. Bootcamps and classes are always helpful, but the secret that every engineer already knows is that Youtube and Google are your best friend. Dig out your notes from that statistics class in college and learn how to run a simple correlation in Excel. An investment of your time today learning how to interpret data will pay dividends for the rest of our career.

Keep perspective

There are no sure things in marketing. Even scientists (and yes, I mean the ones in lab coats) often need years of data collection, rigorous modeling and endless testing to prove a hypothesis. And that’s in a lab. Imagine what happens in the real world, where things are constantly changing and driven by deadlines.

In this chaos, it’s no surprise that data rarely provides a bullet-proof answer. Sure, you can add more expensive technology, but it’s important to remember that, as marketers, we’re dealing in the realm of probability, not exact certitude.

What’s more, it’s okay to be wrong. Take every failure as a badge of honor; minimizing risk does not mean avoiding it entirely. A 95 percent chance of sunshine tomorrow still means that rain is a possibility, but also, your decision to not bring an umbrella isn’t necessarily incorrect. Make peace with the risk as long as you separate logic from

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