How much resolution do you need in marketing analytics?

Resolution in optics is defined as how much detail you can see, the degree of detail visible. Televisions are sold by their resolution, with numbers like 720p, 1080p, and 4K. Microscopes are sold by resolution, such as 20x, 50x, and 150x. Even marketing analytics tools offer analogs to resolution, such as how often reporting is available. Data in the web-based Google Analytics interface defaults to daily as the lowest resolution, but in custom reports and the API, you can get data down to the minute.


Why does resolution, particularly in marketing analytics, matter? Resolution costs more as it increases. A 4K TV costs much more than a 720p TV. A real-time social media analytics tool costs much more typically than a rollup weekly or monthly reporting tool. Even in cases where a platform is the same price, such as Google Analytics (except for Premium), resolution comes at a cost. Computers have to work harder to display more content on bigger screens.

Resolution matters in data especially because as resolution increases, the work you need to do on your data increases. If marketing tools only spit out quarterly reports, you’d have to do some copying and pasting every quarter. When marketing tools offer data at the minute by minute level, you have to process that data, transform it, and then glean insight from it.

The key question to ask is, how much resolution do you need? How much makes a tangible difference to you? A television in the lobby of your company can probably be a cheap 720p TV, because no one’s going to stand in front of it and work all day. A television being used as a second screen in your office might need to be a 4K TV because you’ll be staring at it all day.

In your marketing metrics and analytics, how much resolution is necessary in order for you to implement changes? Few marketing programs need minute by minute analysis except on rare occasions such as major events. Few marketing programs realistically need even daily analysis, save for perhaps advertising programs. Certainly, your blogging strategic execution doesn’t need that level of granular detail.

Here’s the benchmark for determining marketing metrics resolution: how often do you evaluate and make program changes? If you change up your Twitter strategy day-to-day, then daily reporting and analysis makes sense. If you write your content marketing calendar weekly, then go with weekly reporting. If you only look at your lead generation numbers monthly, then you don’t need more than monthly reporting.

How much resolution you need is contingent on how often you’ll use the information.

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Inferred impressions

Newgate Lane

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression” is a time-honored cliche. Yet we also hear not to judge a book by its cover, that beauty is more than skin deep, and a variety of other cliches advising against snap judgement. What’s a marketer to do?

Impactful first impressions are inferred impressions; what you take away from an interaction creates an inference for subsequent interactions.

For example, if you’re a hotel and your lobby is unclean, the inferred impression is the rest of the hotel is unclean.

If your sales staff is surly before the sale, imagine what customer service will be like after the sale.

First impressions containing non-relevant data won’t create much of an inference. A restaurant’s poor graphic design on its menu doesn’t create an inference about the quality of its food or the service. After all, graphic designers are not cooking your food.

A business that delivers freight and cargo won’t be affected much by a driver’s wrinkled uniform. In fact, a slightly shabby looking driver might create a mild positive inference that the person is working so hard, he’s not had time to do laundry.

Wells Fargo bank made a huge splash in the bank marketing world years ago when they eschewed the expansive lobbies and giant buildings in favor of normal, average offices. Why did they make such a bold leap? The quality of the decor had little to do with the services they provided.

When contemplating what first impressions you’re creating, consider whether they create an inference about the product or service you deliver. Worry about it only if it creates an inference which runs contrary to the promise of what you serve your customers.

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7 Basic Plots of Content Marketing: Conclusion

Over the past week or so, we’ve had a chance to look in depth at each of Christopher Booker’s 7 Basic Plots as they apply to marketing and storytelling:

Overcoming the Monster: The protagonist sets out to defeat an antagonistic force which threatens the protagonist and the things/people/places the protagonist cares about.

Rags to Riches: The poor protagonist acquires things such as power, wealth, or a mate, before losing it all and gaining it back upon growing as a person.

The Quest: The protagonist and some companions set out to acquire an important object or to get to a location, facing many obstacles and temptations along the way.

Voyage and Return: The protagonist goes to a strange land and, after overcoming the threats it poses to him/her, returns with nothing but experience.

Comedy: Light and humorous character with a happy or cheerful ending; a dramatic work in which the central motif is the triumph over adverse circumstances, resulting in a successful or happy outcome.

Tragedy: The protagonist is a villain who falls from grace and whose death is a happy ending.

Rebirth: The protagonist is a villain or otherwise unlikable character who redeems him/herself over the course of the story.

To wrap up, I thought I’d include a very simplified decision tree to give you some sense of what story archetype you might want to use for a given situation. As printed in the image, this is by no means the “One Right Way” to use each archetype. Archetypes are like tools; there are a finite number of ways you can use a hammer safely and effectively, but an infinite number of things you can build with it.

(click to download a PDF version)

May you tell your marketing stories in a much more compelling manner!

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