Decide on Data, Not Guesses
- June 16, 2012 at 8:41 am
In a recent article on Slate.com, The Victory Lab – Secret Science of Winning Campaigns, Sacha Eisenberg describes behind the scenes work being done by the Obama Administration in tandem with The Analyst Institute to test the best way of investing $25 million for a national television campaign to reach undecided voters before Election Day in November. Romney is also using sophisticated statistical work and new technology to gain better insight into identifying independents and Democrats who might be receptive to his positions. Instead of relying on focus groups and surveys, both parties are embracing tactics like randomized trials and microtargeting, better known outside of politics in the pharmaceutical and marketing industries. The use of behavioral targeting, analytics and more scientific approaches will, as Eisenberg points out, enable “the use of randomized, controlled experiments able to isolate cause and effect in political activity” The discovery work being done by both parties, will help to determine which target groups can be persuaded by certain messages at certain times using certain devices come September.
Central to both parties is using a strategy that removes the guesswork by preparing ahead of time and integrating empirical research. For those of us working to improve the relevancy of our website content in order to attract a targeted audience with messaging that will also sway them to take action, investing in the research, resources and right techniques in the first phase of a project is equally essential. Laying the proper groundwork will impact later stages of the project all along the way – from design to later CRM campaigns.
In my workshop, we will look into the role that these three topics play when redesigning or creating a new website. The Discovery phase for a digital project requires immersing yourself in not only understanding the current landscape, through audits of the current site and related market research, but also getting a better understanding of your targeted audience and the nomenclature and messaging they will respond to for the future state.
Conducting competitive research to understand what nomenclature, messaging, features and approach is being used by the other side is a great place to begin. Like political candidates vying for the office, you need to know what is working and where the vulnerabilities are for your client as well as for the competition. Getting your analytics team to provide you with keywords for not only your client, but also the competition can really help.
Meeting with stakeholders to have a better understanding of business requirements and insights into the targeted audience through available market research is standard. However, the empirical evidence comes through the analytics. Keywords used in search engines and data collected by internal analytic reports will provide you with data that can uncover a wealth of opportunity and insights into the mental model of the users.
Another correlation between what the Obama campaign is doing with “experiment-informed programs”—known as EIP and the use of analytics in the work we do is that instead of relying solely on artificial environments like focus groups and surveys, using actual data is more reflective of actual online activity. Similar to randomized, controlled experiments that are able to isolate cause and effect in political activity, A/B testing, analyzing the path of users, and usability studies can also be used to calculate the probability that users representing a certain targeted group will take similar actions when using a website and be persuaded to take action based upon the design, nomenclature and structure of a site.
Data mining can provide great insight, but without advanced planning, and appropriate tagging, the data can also become meaningless. It is important to get an analytics expert involved as early in the process as possible. My workshop will address advanced planning and the types of questions to ask stakeholders as well as the Analytics group to insure that the site has the right tags in place to measure key performance indicators.
Although you and I might not have the budget of presidential campaigns, we do have access to using many digital tools that will help to target and sway our audience. Take a tip from the presidential candidates. Be sure that you have prepared ahead of time so through qualitative and quantitative research you will have a strategy in place that not only gets results, and can be tested, but also wins.
Workshop: Gaining Insights into Your Targeted Audience through Competitive Analysis, Analytics, and Stakeholder Research
Oct 9th, 9:15 am -11:45 am
Workshop leader: Lisa Trager
Content Strategist/User Experience Designer/Information Architect
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