There’s No Crying in Baseball, But There IS in Soccer?

Or futbol.

By now every sports fan and many non-sports fans know that home-team Brazil got eliminated from the World Cup by Germany 7-1 in an almost unimaginably lopsided game.

The Brazilians seemed broken almost from the start and they were made to look very poorly before their own fans (who apparently take this stuff as seriously as the US did the Cuban Missile Crisis).

Upon losing, the players were interviewed and at least one of them, weeping openly, began to get existential in his lament: “maybe it was meant to be”. . .”maybe it’s one of those things you learn from” etc. And more tears.

Are you kidding me?

Even allowing for cultural differences, this wailing seemed inelegant and perhaps even unseemly. Guys: it is ONLY A GAME for heavens’ sake.

I can understand fans weeping. They can do what they want as paying customers.

But what comparison can we make to any US sportsperson behaving like a little kid that just got told his playdate was over before its time? I would think none.

Imagine for a moment the calamitous loss by the Yankees to the Sox in the World Series a few years back. This was the biggest choke in baseball history by the most valuable sports franchise in the world. I noticed the players looked glum and maybe even on the verge of tears–but can you imagine if, say, Derek Jeter or Mariano were to come before the cameras in disarray and crying about the cruelty of fate?

I think even hardcore fans would act like the rubbish can was just opened and they’d have to turn away.

I imagine that here in the US, with our team gone and the other losers crying their eyes out, our very brief romance with soccer may be already over. I know I’m not much interested in a game where the National Honor seems at stake and where a tough loss leads to the players falling apart emotionally on camera.

As far as baseball–as Ernie Banks once said, “Let’s play two!”

I Hate Analytics

I hate digital analytics because it gives too many marketers the false impression they are doing something substantial by looking at a few not-very-illuminating numbers.

I hate analytics because too many vendors and practitioners seem to believe it’s an end in itself when really it’s the start of the optimization journey.

I hate analytics because too often it’s so poorly implemented that even simple accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

I hate it because too often, it confirms the obvious while providing not enough richness to make truly targeted changes.

I hate it because even with all the above in play, we still cannot run sites without it.

I hate how we have to rely on it to convince ourselves of the obvious when we haven’t the courage to trust our own judgment.

Here is a conversation I had recently with a customer:

Customer: What did we learn from three months of running analytics on my lead-gen site?

Me: We learned enough to know that we need to completely redo the site as well as your digital marketing. You’re not getting much traffic and you’re not getting any conversions from the traffic you’re getting. Also we learned how slow it loads.

Customer: We knew all that before we did the analytics. Why did we do analytics?

Me (to myself): Because even though I told you to redo the site and find another developer to do it, you did not want to do that. But now that analytics proved me right, you want to know why we did analytics.

Me (what I said): Well, we also learned that visits were really short.

Customer: So do we redevelop the site with a new developer?

Me: Yes.

Customer: Good! I can’t wait.

I absolutely do not blame the customer for the skepticism. It’s true we didn’t find out anything well-hidden about the site (except that his company was being ripped off by a CPM advertising network that was charging him for phony impressions).

But beyond catching a bad actor, we confirmed what I had posited within a couple of weeks of engagement: that the developers were paying no attention to his site or his marketing; that the site suffered from poor architecture, poor design, poor load-time, and far too many pages of unhelpful content; and that all of the above were hurting his SEO rankings.

My insights alone were not enough. We had to go through the exercise of tagging the site and running reports on a month of data until we were able to say, based on the numbers, that the site was underperforming.

Only then did we get a go-ahead from the customer to find another firm and get moving on a much-needed redesign.

Here’s what I learned from this:

I may hate analytics, but customers need the numbers anyway. They don’t have domain expertise in digital marketing, much as I don’t have domain expertise in accounting. Would I just go ahead and do what an accountant told me to do without something more than faith in his/her judgment? I would not. I would probably want to see some kind of spreadsheet that showed me something — anything. Something I can claim to have based a decision upon.

The assumptions are two: One, implementation is solid and the numbers are accurate; two, we have a plan to do something based on what we learned.

I would hate it if we had inaccurate numbers and no plan.

At least in this case, we had determined to do something. Too many enterprises are stuck in a self-defeating version of net-neutrality: they don’t know how to engage a forward gear and their site just rolls along without drive.

Many marketers think it’s their job to make sure the process of site-change takes as long as possible, because they don’t have the authority to make changes and don’t want the responsibility of having made changes that might prove nothing.

Time for another profile reconfiguration!

Talk yet again to the developers about getting the tags right!

The numbers come through again. OK, now we can trust them. But with no plan for improvement, none of it matters.

That’s why I hate analytics.