The Importance of the ‘Why’ vs. the ‘What’ in Online Marketing

Image: Danilo Rizzuti

Image: Danilo Rizzuti

Math was one of my favorite subjects in school and my undergraduate degree was in Finance with a minor in Accounting, so needless to say, I like numbers and data. That is one of the reasons why I enjoy immersing myself in tools like Omniture SiteCatalyst and Google Analytics, which are great at capturing the ‘what’ – what happened on your website, what content was clicked-on in your email campaign, etc. As a marketer, however, the ‘why’ interests me a whole lot more than the ‘what’.

Most web analytics, email, search and social marketing reporting tools provide vast amounts of data, but those applications are really more of a means to an end. Knowing that my traffic increased, my email click-thru rate improved, or a Facebook fan page generated significant engagement is useful, but what is immensely more valuable to me is understanding why those things happened. Obviously, if you know the cause of your success, you are much more likely to be able to repeat it. The better you can understand your target audience, the better you can market to them.

Most reporting tools can’t tell you the ‘why’. Humans are still best at that task – turning lots of data into meaningful and actionable insights. The problem is that many companies either don’t have staff with the right type of experience to do it or the staff doesn’t have enough time.  Often, organizations don’t know the right questions to ask.  As a result, decisions aren’t fully informed and opportunity is lost.

If you haven’t yet, make 2010 the year that you dedicate the necessary resources to being able to answer the ‘why’.

This entry was posted on Friday, January 8th, 2010 at 8:50 am and is filed under Online Strategy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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