“In God we trust, all others bring data.” — Framed plaque from the ‘60s at NASA’s Johnson Space Center
When it comes to deep smarts, curiosity, with practical advice and sprinkled with a healthy dose of good humor, I cannot think of anyone more qualified than Avinash Kaushik. He's not only a real dynamo in all matters analytics, he's also a genuinely passionate, interesting, and kind person. Think that he wrote the answers to our conversation while his hand was healing from an injury because he had made a promise.
Every single one of his posts - and now I can say the same for the books - is packed with step by step actionable insights that will make you think about online accountability as an art. I don't know about you, but he's changed the game of analytics for me - I now have a totally fresh appreciation for what you can do with data.
As he describes on his site, he is the Analytics Evangelist for Google (Data driven decision making uncomplexified), the Co-Founder and Chief Education Officer for Market Motive (Online marketing education, on demand, high quality, fresh, every day!), and the author of the recently published book Web Analytics 2.0 and the best selling book Web Analytics: An Hour A Day (100% of the proceeds from both books are donated to The Smile Train, Doctors Without Borders and Ekal Vidyalaya.)
He also sits on several Boards of Advisers and has an overall amazing attitude and approach to life. I'm very pleased that he would agree to share more of himself with us here.
I just received your latest book, thank you for sending it. The subtitle of Analytics 2.0 is the art of online accountability and science of customer centricity - the switch in how people would logically see the two was not lost on me. Tell me more about how you got there?
And at the same time I am supremely impressed with how quantitative the world UCD/HCI is. Surveys, follow me homes, usability testing, experimentation.... all things we think of as qualitative, and hence 'soft and fuzzy", analysis.
I am hoping to make you (readers) question their fundamental beliefs, starting with the book's cover. : )
From reading your blog I've learned that data-driven doesn't need to be boring, it can indeed be beautiful. And it doesn't need to be complicated, either. Why then so many neglect to implement analytics?
It's sexy and kick butt (cue in visual of Angelina Jolie! :)).
As to the last part... I think there is a profound under-appreciation of the impact of the web on our businesses. Hence my deep stress on Multiple Outcomes Analysis (see pic).
I spend a lot of time in the book covering measurement of outcomes and computing not just "conversion rate" and revenue but rather Economic Value. For lead gen sites, for non profit sites, for content only sites, for.... all kinds of sites.
Once you do economic value you will get more love from your management than you could handle for analytics. : )
Isn't niche and focused communication the best way to go with social media overall? What applications are possible at this point and what would you put on the wish for list?
The web in 2009 changes that. You can actually, quite easily, find audiences most relevant for you and me and our products and services and interests. What this means is that you can finally participate in authentic conversations. By being remarkable there you have massively more influence then you ever could through "shout channels" (tv, radio, magazines etc).
That's my answer to how to think of and go about executing one's social media strategy. Go where your audience is, be it in forums or blogs or twitter or just plain old web sites, and then be unselfish and remarkable (worth remarking about - credit for that to Seth Godin).
I know that many who are making a difference today are there because they want to change the world. In a way, the tools have made it easier to spread the word, but it is really about intent. When did you first realize you were going to step forward to help transform business through analytics? Was there a specific event or conversation that inspired you?
Andy Beal saw me speak at a conference in early 2006 and came up to me and said something like "wow that was a great talk, you are so passionate about it, you should start a blog". He had a instrumental role in pushing me into blogging, for which I'll be forever grateful.
Once I decided to start a blog I immersed myself in the ecosystem and read a ton of blogs for a couple months to figure out what I should do (if at all) and how to do it. One piece of guidance from Guy Kawasaki became central to my strategy:
"Eat like a bird, and poop like an elephant.” – Japanese Quote.
Of course my blog's name Occam's Razor and that principle is a reflection of my mental model, approach, philosophy.
So that's the inspiration part.
I got 3 or 4 comments on my first couple posts, astonishing me. Since the average comments per post is zero I think I realized the power of the medium and the value of sharing. The average comments per post is now something like 40, because I have spent and inordinate amount trying to engage people and developing a certain writing style etc etc. I am magnificently grateful for the engagement I am privileged to have.
But the power of the platform and these tools is best exemplified by my books. I did not want to make money on my blog so my first book, written when I was at my last job, came along my wife and I decided to donate all our proceeds to charity. In 2 yrs of sales this small book about a niche topic called web analytics has raised $70,000 ($35k each to Doctors Without Borders and The Smile Train). To me that is the power of the platform.
Who do you consider part of your team? If you were to share one word of advice with them, what would it be?
The engineers I am lucky enough to work with at Google and a couple other companies where I am on the Advisory Board. They provide me with an incredible channel to share all these "wild and crazy" things that will make the data world better. They bring some of it to millions of people. I love them!
My blog's audience. I have written 423k words on my blog, they have written 600k! They are all a key part of my team (and my motivation).
My beloved wife Jennie is perhaps the supreme member to my team. She manages my career, life, kids, and all that I hold dear.
If I share just one bit of advice will all three of my team members?
Buy the book, actually buy both. Give copies to your team.
Disclosures: I truly do like Avinash and yes, he did send me a complimentary copy of Web Analytics 2.0.