eMetrics Marketing Summit 2011 – Data Storytelling

SF Museum of Modern Art

This was my first eMetrics Summit, and I must say I was quite impressed all around. I was asked to present and sit on a panel about social media metrics and so I arranged my schedule to specifically attend that Monday session. Fly in late Sunday and back out early Tuesday. I soon discovered that was a mistake as I would miss two more days of great content, speakers and networking opportunities. Lesson learned.

If you are a metrics enthusiast, and who isn’t, this is the place to be. They cover technology, strategy, practice and case studies. Everyone there is focused on one thing; doing metrics better. It’s a never ending topic of debate. How much data is too much? How do you divine insights from the data? What is important vs. noise? How can it be made more actionable? I picked up some nuggets of knowledge and met some very interesting professionals who are solving real world business problems with the data they uncover.

The opening keynote was given by Jim Sterne, Founder of the eMetrics Summit 10 years ago. He reminded us to not be so seduced by the puzzle of the data that we forget to tell the story we find inside that puzzle. He said, “Data=Calculation while Story=Empathy.” Most C level execs and everyday business partners want to hear a story. Granted they prefer non-fiction to fiction, but everyone loves a good story. Tell one. Mr. Sterne kept bringing his message back to how one would use it on the job. Extremely practical. Another presentation I caught in it’s entirety was given by Larry Freed, President and CEO of Foresee Results. He spoke nonstop for 30 minutes about consumers, channels and information. His key takeaways:

  • Consumers are multi-channel and your metrics need to be multi-channel
  • Success should be looked at through the eyes of the Consumer
  • Often metrics are misunderstood, misinterpreted and misleading
  • Satisfaction drives loyalty, retention and word of mouth, which drive financial success
  • You cannot manage what you do not measure

I sent emails out to my analytics partners back at the home office during the summit to encourage them to put the next summit on their calendars.

My session was entitled Social Media Metrics Management. Myself, John Lovett of Web Analytics Demystified and Scott Calise of MTV Networks each presented about 10 minutes on varying perspectives of how we approach social media metrics. The moderator Michele Honojosa got the audience engaged with questions. The questions were great and some very tough to answer, making us think hard. As I went back through the Tweets of the session afterwards I found that it was a grateful but tough crowd. Some comments and questions were still rolling in and I was responding to them via Twitter the next day. Whenever I do these things I am always amazed at how we all struggle with the same things, but each one of has solved a different problem better than the rest of us. Some problems never go away while new ones pop-up all the time. The panel compared notes closely, picked-up tips and learned more best practices. My brief talk focused on building stakeholder alignment around social media in the organization.

Despite all those approving words, I still came away empty handed on my quest to find the perfect web analytics tool. That would be a tool that could capture granular data for the geeks, but also had a web site form factor display with the data masquerading as the user. It would be a tool for the analysts, web designers, information architects and business partners looking to solve a problem. It would be fast, near time, have a user-friendly interface and didn’t require world of site tags to enable it. If you come across that, let me know.

2 comments

  1. Good read Steve. It doesn’t surprise me that all of us in the eCommerce space struggle with the same issues although sometimes its hard to see that in the walled gardens we work in, where we assume our problems are unique. Conferences are really good places to get that mind-check to understand our problems have existed before and sometimes been solved so we can look there for possible solutions. As always an enjoyable read.

  2. Hi Steve:

    Lots of our clients are struggling with this exact question – and a few brave ones developing pretty interesting approaches.

    (We do deep human motivations research using SM data as the raw material to understand category, competitive and human dynamics.)

    Happy to discuss more.

    @tomob

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