Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Data just got fashionable: 5 learnings from Andrew Bleeker

Analytics and data have become very popular in the last few years. Two things seem to have contributed to this, one has been Big Data and the other has been the Obama campaign which highlighted data and analytics as a key ingredient to their success. So when I stumbled across Andrew Bleeker's presentation from the recent DNA://13 conference on the ABC's Big Ideas program I was over the moon. His presentation makes for great viewing and can be found on the Big Ideas site. Also, the slide pack is on the DNA://13 conference site.

It was great to see that Andrew Bleeker's presentation style was clever, clear and engaging. All things a good data presentation should be. He is a fantastic advertisement for the practical application of data to make better decisions.

My take on Andrew's main points:
  1. Focus efforts on your key objectives and avoid getting side tracked. I thought this was a simple, yet critical message.
  2. They used data to improve the efficiency of their campaign, that is, to increase the likelihood  that the dollars spent on communicating to voters would result in a vote and or donation. They avoided demographics and profiled the market in terms of likelihood to vote and likelihood to vote Obama. This allowed the campaign to focus on the voters who would influence the outcome, avoiding those who were  going to vote Obama already and those who definitely would not. Ultimately this is why we use data, to make better decisions, be it for optimising a landing page or fine tuning the message in an email. 
  3. Distrust of authority is a major challenge for all brands when trying to convey a message. He noted that their research had consistently reiterated this fact and that it represented a barrier to communicating a message. He talked about social media as a mechanism for overcoming this by using a trusted source (i.e. a friend or  connection) to carry the message for the campaign. I think this mentality of distrust can be a real barrier for some organisations. They often need to accept that people don't care about their brand and once they can do this, they can begin to understand how to communicate with their customers.  
  4. Where possible lead with the facts. This was an effective way to communicate a message.  Apparently dogs and children were also effective at encouraging people to share content however not necessarily in achieving their objectives. Andrew made a clear distinction between general engagement (re-tweets, shares) and the end objective (donations and votes).
  5. Test. The discussion around testing was incredible. During the campaign they had 4000 iterations of one donations page. The final version converted 4 times better than the original. Andrew suggested that without the volume of donations they received online they would have had dramatically less funding than the Republicans.
To wrap up, there is much to learn from this Andrew Bleeker presentation but there is one phrase  that stood out:
 "less spin on the ball"

I think this relates to the need to treat your customer or audience with respect.  Gone are the days of selling people things they don't need and here is a landscape in which relationships are more important than ever. If you get a minute watch the presentation or view the slides. I would love to know what you think. Is my man crush justified? 

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