By Chris Manley, CEO, Engenius
My grandfather was an awesome guy. He loved his family, his church, and following sports. Following might be an understatement. He was an information bank filled with as much sports knowledge as a person could hold. A former sports editor and longtime sports announcer, he attended many a sporting event — exposing my mom and her siblings at young ages to the joy of attending baseball and football games.
Sitting with him in the stands when he was just “one of the fans,” you had no need for the actual announcer. He could tell you the stats of just about everyone on the field. Which pitcher had the better ERA. Which receiver had the most completions and ran for the most yards. He passed that love of stats on to many of his grandkids.
In sports, we use past performance to predict future outcomes. Coaches rely on stats to tell them which player is best in certain scenarios. We, as observers, use data to predict which team will win — and which player will excel. In fact, during a game, ESPN has a running statistical predictor of which team has the higher chance of winning that is updated after every single play.
Sometimes it is spot on; other times a team surprises us all. Remember the second edition of the Clemson-Alabama national championship square off? The end of the game had the “chance of win” meter going back and forth until the final seconds.
Modern marketing can benefit from the same approach. Past performance, when tracked well through stats, can often predict future results. In this day and age, our access to hard marketing data is unprecedented — just like it is in sports. Within four seconds I can tell you who had the most receiving touchdowns in the NFL in 2017; within four seconds I can also tell you how most people found your website and how they got there.
Data can tell us so much. But the true value is in interpretation. Coaches use data to tell them who to play. It is that decision-making that wins games — and wins titles. Interpreting the data in marketing is just as important. So much is collected nowadays, it can be overwhelming, but it’s a treasure trove.
By analyzing sources of traffic to your website, you can quickly assess what forms of marketing are showing the highest return on investment. In assessing the geographic location of site visitors, you learn where your audience is coming from — and can further pinpoint in what cities your marketing is taking the strongest hold. Even learning what devices people use to access your website can help you paint a better profile of your customers — and what they’re doing when they become interested in your product or service.
Like finding the stats of your favorite player for the Braves or the Red Sox, this isn’t rocket science. It might take a little experience to know what to make of the stats — and, unlike sports, you likely didn’t grow up with your old man showing you the ropes. It may take seeking the expertise of professionals who analyze and interpret stats. But the principle remains and is ever effective. Past results predict future performance — on the field and off the field.
In case you’re wondering, DeAndre Hopkins boasted the most receiving touchdowns of the 2017 NFL season — and I can’t wait to see him back catching passes from Deshaun this season.
Chris Manley is co-founder and CEO of Engenius, a digital marketing agency based in Greenville.