At the intersection of data, analytics, and creativity is where you’ll find this episode of What Gets Measured. We cover many topics in a short amount of time in this jam-packed episode with ex-Googler Adam Singer. We explore methods to sharpen the data analysis ax, learn how modern marketing and vanity metrics can dull our senses, and hear about a few ways you can plant seeds of confidence in how you see the analytical trees for the marketing forest.
Adam Singer is an analyst, marketing executive, musician, writer, and bon vivant; follow him on social if you're looking for thoughts on marketing, tech, turntables and investing. Adam’s track record contains stints at small mom & pop shops, like Google, experience as a director, a CMO, an account manager, columnist, editor, and analytics advocate and it’s this giant boat of a resume that floats Adam to the shores of the NinjaCat podcast.
This episode is brimming with insights and useful information, and it starts with a playful and provocative question Adam asks at the top of the show. “Would an airline hire a pilot that couldn’t read the altimeter, speedometer, or any of the widgets on their dashboard?”
“No, you would not.” answers Adam. “So I don’t know why you would have marketers or managers on your team who are equally incapable of understanding any of the metrics or dashboards that are important for your marketing.”
Adam sees that marketers without analytical tact tend to overvalue performance metrics and are obsessed over the trend dujour rather than tactics that actually move levers.
“It’s always been the case, even in the past during the era of the Big 3 TV Channels (ABC, CBS, & NBC) where people would hide behind huge numbers to sell things to people that had too much budget or were too clueless to know what to do with their budget. I think as marketers it’s up to us to be able to sort through the bullsh*t. That’s not to say we shouldn’t experiment by doing new trials and tactics and programs, but you should proceed cautiously till proven.”
He then describes the importance of having a testable “sandbox” area where you can work out your thoughts, run hypotheses, and test potential campaigns, software, and strategies. The marketers who have empirically challenged themselves and shipped out work, regardless of what form i.e. food blog, side hustle, passion project, are more informed in analysis and action.
There are naturally places where a degree will help someone excel, but in most cases, a PhD is not required for informed thinking about most marketing analytics and data.
“I would suggest to young marketers, if you can spend some time working with, not an SEO, or social, or email shop; those things are all fine - work with direct marketers, they know how to use all of these different analytical tactics,” says Adam.
And in regards to the ninja/hacker/growth/whatever buzzword marketers? Adam lets his feelings be known. “They’re overcompensating for trying to sell higher for existing service, creating fear for something we don’t have. When you’re starting out, it’s important to work with the right marketers.”
The discussion then turns to intuition VS information and how data and analyst skills can help fine tune a marketer’s “gut feeling” when it comes to interpreting metrics. Adam believes data should provide guide rails for thinking, but shouldn’t replace thinking.
When asked if he could give one piece of advice about digital marketing analytics to the marketers out there, Adam says it’s only one word: ship.
“Ship. I think the thing that separates the successful from the unsuccessful marketers is those who ship, win, and those who are either reticent to ship or inefficient at shipping end up losing.”