Everything I Know about Marketing I learned from Google

Avinash Kaushik, Google

Avinash Kaushik
Author, Web Analytics 2.0
Co-Founder, Market Motive
Analytics Evangelist, Google

Which of my lessons resonates with you the most and why?

It is hard to pick one but if I had to pick only one it would probably by #1, relevancy. Mostly because I personally believe it is perhaps the singular reason for Google’s success. It is hard to imagine now that in a world of companies wanting to hyper monetize every pair of eye balls that Google, still today, continues to not show ads on a vast majority of terms [if it has] no relevant ads or show higher ads that might earn less money but are more relevant to the search query by the user.

Leaving money on the table to make more money in the long run is a much harder decision to make then seems obvious.

What other companies (besides Google) are putting one or more of these lessons to good use? How?

A recent great example is e.l.f (www.eyeslipsface.com). They are acting on several of the lessons to work for them. Perhaps most of all, being where your audience is. They have done a singularly magnificent job of participating in various Social Media channels and through simply engaging in conversations with their customers they are able to do the kind of marketing money can’t buy. Oh, and they don’t seem to do any traditional “shout” advertising.

What makes Google such a unique company? Why has it been so successful?

There are entire books written on this, I can hardly do it justice in a couple of sentences. But one of the ones that is usually underappreciated is how much Google believes in this (in context of employees): Empower people. Set them free.

The astonishing amount of trust that Google puts in its employees and how amazingly those employees, self motivated, deliver results is impressive. Someone should write an entire book on this!

What’s the biggest mistake marketers make when it comes to web analytics?

Focusing far too much on “input” [or] Acquisition metrics, like Visits, Hits, Click-through Rate, Page Rank, etc.

True glory comes from focusing on behavioral and output metrics, like Bounce Rate, Visitor Loyalty, Average Order Value, Days to Outcome.

At the end of the day, data is in service of the business (for profit or non profit), it is a mistake not to utterly obsess about how the work you do [whether you are] adding to your bottom line or changing the world.

How can marketers use insights gleamed from Google Analytics to inform broader creative and/or media strategy?

I could write a book on this. : )

Let me mention a couple ideas. I use data from the web analytics tool to help me understand highest quality channels where I can find audiences most relevant to me. If I am totally in the white space area then I can use techniques like controlled experimentation to identify which channel, creative, [and/or] strategy will deliver desired outcomes (regardless of if I am running the paid search campaign for Target, the branding campaign for Gatorade, or the re-election campaign for President Barack Obama).

I must also add that the greatest gift that the Internet gives us is the ability to be proven wrong, fast. This simple fact has liberated the creativity of people who deal in anything creative on the web. Take the most audacious, risky, [and/or] “insane” idea, put it out there in an experiment where you control the risk, measure success, [and then] uncork [the] champagne.

Why is cross-channel attribution so important?

I humbly believe that attribution, as we think of it today, (“how much credit should I give each channel involved in conversion”), is a futile quest. It looks back. It assumes there is a right model. It relies on someone looking at data through complex systems to trying and interpret data, convert it into decisions, sell it to someone in the chain of command, and change media spend to reap positive ROI [return on investment]. [There are] far too many points of failure there.

The right question to answer is not (Page 258 through 268 of Web Analytics 2.0), “Who gets how much credit for a conversion?”. The right question is, “How best to allocate spend across a portfolio of media channels to maximize ROI?”

The right question calls for looking beyond attribution to more evolved analytical techniques.

In general, do you think SEM [search engine marketing] gets too much credit from last-click attribution?

There is no global right or wrong answer to that question. But there is a unique and correct one for each business. Intelligent Marketers spend time figuring it out for their business and are immensely rewarded for it.

In less than 140 characters, what’s the single most important thing you’ve learned from Google?

Launch early. Iterate. Fail Faster.

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