In this episode of In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris discuss the balance companies must find between cost and time. When should you outsource products, services, data sources, or analytics? Tune in to find out.
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What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.
Christopher Penn 0:02
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Reach out to us today at Trust insights.ai slash contact to learn more, again, that’s Trust insights.ai slash contact in this week’s in ear insights, we’re talking about convenience, and the way that some companies are able to provide value in ways that at first seem like Well, that seems like why wouldn’t you do that yourself? You know, it’s the the version of why would you go to a restaurant, when you can cook the same thing at home for substantially less money.
The example we’re talking about is we saw the software company that sells public data and an API to companies that want to bring in public data.
And when I first saw that, I said, Well, why would you need to do that? It’s it’s trivial to, you know, bring in data from like the US Federal Reserve Bank or data.gov into these credible sources.
And it’s already free.
Why would I pay $400 a month or more? to do exactly the same thing? So Katie, why would we?
Katie Robbert 1:55
Well, um, you know, some of it comes down to time, some of it comes down to skill set.
And some of it comes down to I just want someone to do it for me.
So in the example of the restaurant, you know, if you’re, you know, pressed for time, or you can’t cook, then you know, getting takeout and going to restaurants is probably part of your routine, as opposed to buying food and making it yourself.
So you replace those costs of buying groceries with buying pre made food already.
You know, when we were talking about this last week, I was giving the example of you know, the fruit cut up at the grocery store.
So, you know, you can buy a watermelon, a whole watermelon for a couple of dollars, or you can buy a very small portion of the watermelon, but it’s already been seated and cut up and portioned for you.
But it’s more expensive, because someone else has already done the work.
And for a lot of people that pre portioned already, we’re already having the work done is more attractive, because then they don’t have to think about it.
You know, the same is true for like, you know, think about the things around your house, I could get up on a ladder and try to clean my gutters myself.
Or I can pay someone, you know, $100 to clean out my gutters better than I can do it.
And so there’s this give and take with this, you know, market of convenience.
Now, some of this stuff really does come down to I don’t have the skills or I don’t have the time.
And then some of it comes down to I just don’t want to, I don’t want to clean my gutters.
I’m happy to pay someone else to clean my gutters so that I don’t have to deal with it.
And I think when we’re talking about, you know, services within marketing and data, analytics, prepackaged data is an attractive thing to people because they don’t have to deal with trying to figure out how do I connect an API? What is an API? Where do I bring it? How do I clean it? Where do I get it? Do I know how to use it, like, just give me the data, tell me what it says.
And then I can go about my merry way.
But I feel like Chris, because you are such a do it yourselfer, you probably have a difference of opinion on this.
Christopher Penn 4:04
I do particularly since this company offers an API, which is what you’re buying, like so you could not spend $400 a month and you still do the same amount of coding that you’re going to have to do to connect to this company’s API.
I think the value of what they’re offering theoretically is that the data itself is is supposedly vetted, but it is all publicly available data from, you know, different governments, the same way that a lot of people pay subscriptions to statistics, instead of, you know, googling for a minute and a half to find the actual underlying data source.
And so that the challenge I run into is not so much the the existence of it, it’s the value of property, what is the value of spending, you know, $400 a month to get data that’s already free in a format that is not necessarily prepackaged any better than the original data.
But why? You know why? But how much time does that save you? Like does it doesn’t really save you that much, I guess if you’re really bad at googling, then that it would save you some time.
But to me, it’s like, I don’t see the time savings there, there’s something set for sure.
I see the time savings for and I like you said, it always comes down to time, money and skill, right? Which of the those Do you have the least of tells you what you’re gonna have to do.
If you’ve got skill, and you got time and you don’t have money, then yeah, you’re gonna be making it, it’s gonna be all DIY all day, right.
And on the other hand, if you have no time, and you have no skill, but you got a ton of money, everything in your life is prepackaged, you know, you somebody probably comes and makes your bed for you.
And and that’s okay, there’s a there’s a place for that.
There’s definitely a market for that.
But where I question is, especially in today’s environment, what is the return on investment of something that’s that expensive, like those, if that was nine bucks a month, like, okay, you know, nine bucks a month.
So I can code to one API and Step five, I can see that time savings pretty quickly.
But 400 bucks a month, I don’t see the savings there.
Katie Robbert 6:04
Do you think that perhaps it’s a misunderstanding of how much work you have to do yourself, versus that return on investment.
And so the example that you’re giving Chris is this company who is quote, unquote, pre packaging, data sets, but really, there’s still a lot of setup and developer time needed.
In order to access these data sources, which is relatively the same as you just doing it, you know, yourself and getting these free.
You know, it sounds to me like there’s perhaps a misunderstanding with this particular company, what they’re, what they’re selling, what they’re giving access to, and how much work you have to do yourself.
Do you see the value in? You know, if this company were to say, you know what we will for that $400 a month, we will also set up the API, do the coding for you.
And basically, all you have to do is show up, and the data is presented to you in a usable format?
Christopher Penn 7:03
I could definitely see the value in that.
If it was literally, you know, that what’s the the the B2B cliche, is it literally a turnkey solution? And it really was, then yes, because that saves time.
The other thing that they could do, that we didn’t see in their marketing, but would be a significant value add would be these data sets have been cleaned.
Because we know government data sets have all sorts of anomalies in them.
You know, the Medicare data sets really good example, the hospital quality data set 30%.
of its missing because
Unknown Speaker 7:35
various health report
Christopher Penn 7:36
itself, yeah, good self reporting, especially in today’s environment, you know, this data set has been validated for bias, you know, or has the, the provenance and the lineage of the data set has been verified like this is we know, this is good data, we know the state is free of obvious biases, both statistical and human.
Those are the things where suddenly $400 a month starts to make a lot more sense.
Because if you can say, Hey, I’m going to build a machine learning model on this thing, and I need to be able to show an auditor Yep, that I checked the data set, if you don’t have training in detecting statistical bias, but you can buy from a verified vendor, then yeah, you’ve basically handed the blame off.
Katie Robbert 8:16
So let’s walk through some of the things that are a value.
In this, you know, I’m calling it this convenience market segment.
And so these are services done for you that if you had the time, you could do yourself, or if you had the skill you could do yourself.
But the reason people seek these things out is because they don’t have the time or they don’t have the skill, or they just don’t want to do it.
You know, one of the things that we do, Chris at TrustInsights.ai, is we will set up somebody’s Google Analytics account for them using best practices, and then make sure all their tags are connected so that they can collect the proper data.
And this is something that we always do always kind of go back and forth of where Why can’t somebody do this themselves? versus we’re happy to do this for them? because it keeps us in business? You know, what are some of those things that are are good return on investment, and fit into that convenience market?
Christopher Penn 9:13
You know, it’s funny, you bring that up? Because that’s something that I wrestle with all the time, which is, what’s the value of it? Right? I was thinking about that last night while I was shoveling mulch, like what is the value of Google Analytics, by itself, it doesn’t really have any value.
You know, it’s just a pile of data.
And so setting up correctly is theoretically important, but only if you’re doing something with the data.
You know, one of the things that we say all the time is data without decisions is a distraction.
If you just collect data, and and you’re obsessing about data, and you’re not actually making any decisions with it, it’s you’re wasting time and money.
where the value is for all this stuff, including this, this convenient stuff is does it get you to better decisions faster, right.
So if you have a good Google Analytics setup, and a good Google Tag Manager setup and you’re bringing in the data You’re running an attribution model and you figure out sooner rather than later that you’re wasting your budget on Facebook.
Right? That’s a decision you can make that has benefit, like, you could say, a week into a campaign.
That sure looks like Facebook’s giving us no real return on investment because we’re pouring $10,000 a day into it, we’re getting five leads.
Right? That’s, that’s an easy decision to make, like, okay, let’s let’s put that spend somewhere else.
So when we offer those services, in some ways that those are like, prerequisite services to actually getting the value out of the data itself? And could you get the value of that data value is somewhere else? Maybe.
But Google Analytics is pretty thorough, which is one of the reasons why most of the planet uses it.
Where I see a role for all kinds of companies, including ours, is making that data valuable by turning it into decisions, like okay, we’re gonna look at this with you and say, This is what you need to do more of this, what you need to do less of this looks like an opportunity for you, this looks like it could be a problem for you.
One of the reasons why we see things like SEO and social media analytics and stuff be continued to be prominent in marketing is because there’s a lot of data, people can’t make good value out of it.
And they don’t know what to do when you when you hand somebody your standard SEO report out of an SEO tool, their eyes just get really big, like, what do I do, as opposed to when you hand somebody, you know, a boil down report, like fix these five pages that got it?
Katie Robbert 11:32
So it sounds like you’re saying and you know, correct me if I’m wrong, that a lot of these off the shelf software tools that are meant to make your life easier, collect the data, automate things, they’re not actually making anything easier for you, they’re just adding more work for you.
So therefore, the return on investment and the convenience piece of it is working with some someone hiring someone to help you make sense of the information.
So it’s not the data collection, that’s the convenience, it’s the making sense of the data that you are collecting.
That’s the convenience.
Christopher Penn 12:12
Let’s go back to your grocery store analogy, right? There’s there’s like what four different kinds of shrimp you can buy, there’s like whole shrimp, there is pre cut easy pill shrimp, there is cooked shrimp and then there’s obviously you know, dishes that with shrimp in them.
The difference between whole shrimp and Easy Peel shrimp is basically a large knife right that somebody’s gone through and and cut these things in a way that you can peel them a little more easily.
That’s some value.
But if you can’t cook, you’ve just you’ve still bought $14 of something that that is no good.
So when the equivalent there is if we go and we set up Google Analytics and you still can’t make you something useful out of the data.
You’ve we’ve saved you a step.
But you’re still getting a value as opposed to here’s some shrimp gumbo, or you know, whatever else that Baba less listed in, in Forrest Gump, you know, all the different dishes you could possibly cook.
That’s where we all want to go is what do I do? What what what should I be doing? Because to your point earlier, we are so overloaded and so overwhelmed every single day with all this stuff happening in marketing in our jobs in the world at large.
What do you do? What? What should you do one of the things that, like I do with the I publish a weekday newsletter on the pandemic, and the thing I try to focus on is okay, out of all this news, what should I be doing differently than I am right now, like there’s a piece last week on on flying on airplanes, like make sure that the vent is pointing at your face full blast, because the air coming through the vents is already been filtered.
So you want as much clean air on you as possible.
Like that’s something I can do.
And I feel like when we talk to our clients, when we hand them the punch list, this is what you need to do.
They’re a lot more grateful for that than saying, Here’s your new dashboards.
Katie Robbert 14:07
And I think that that’s one of the biggest mistakes that you know, these agencies that are trying to be part of that convenience market are doing is they’re forgetting about the So what, you know, okay, so I’m giving you all of this information.
So what and that’s actually the question, Chris, I probably asked you, I asked you every single time you send me a report to review is so what, why, why am I looking at this thing? Give me something actionable to do so that we can pass it off to our clients, you know, and that’s something that we’ll be actually doing for ourselves today.
Yeah, and it’s it’s the reason why we called our live stream which is every Thursday at 1pm.
So what because the goal of making all of these tools work together and convenient for marketers is So what you have to be able to do something with the information that you have, and there is data overload and, you know, with, you know, so Chris and your example of the pandemic, email that you send out every day and the data that you collect, I personally, I don’t read it, because it’s overwhelming amount of information.
And unless I have those very tangible things that I can do, I don’t need to take in more information.
And I don’t plan on getting on a plane anytime soon.
So for me, I’m, you know, I’m the wrong audience, because I’m not someone who can benefit from this additional amount of information.
And I think that that’s probably one of the things that happens when a company hires on a marketing analytics agency is they think, well, if I just have more data, then I can do more with it.
And then it gets overwhelming.
And there’s too much information.
And then there’s this disconnect of, well, you agency have brought us more information, but nothing has changed.
If anything, we’re just more confused.
And the focus should be on that.
So what the what can I do, what is the action, and you know, when we go back to the original point of the conversation with this convenience market, when you have these companies that are working so hard to convince you, that your life will be easy, if you hire them, you’d better be true to what you’re saying, My life had better be easier, if I hire you don’t make me work harder, because I will let go of you immediately.
Christopher Penn 16:34
And it you bring up a really good point there.
Because in the example of the strip, if you’re a good chef, the pre cut shrimp is probably the best middle ground, right? Because you can still see the quality of you can still see, you know, was healthy or not and stuff like that way, if it’s pre cooked, it’s like, okay, you know, there’s who knows how long was cooked, or how well was cooked.
But also you don’t want to be sitting with a knife cutting over 500 shrimp every night before service.
So that’s a case where you have someone who is skilled, who can take the output of, you know, a time saving step and and get real benefit.
There are not that many people who are in that bucket.
So for this convenience market, you have to decide what level of convenience matches up to the market that’s out there.
If you have somebody who’s a trained data scientist, that convenience API could save them some some time, right? Because they don’t have to get the developers if they’re a developer themselves, they don’t have to write the code themselves.
But is it enough of a convenience? That it’s worth it, as opposed to what’s the next step of the process? And can you provide that, even though it will cost more, because every step you take, the cost goes higher, it’s like you can buy green whole coffee beans for like $4 a pound really good ones, then you got to roast them yourself, grinding yourself, turn them into coffee.
And when you could just buy a cup of coffee from Starbucks, which is like be 15 beans total, right? And get the same get the same outcome.
Obviously, there are way more customers of Starbucks than there are customers of sweet Maria’s on roast coffee beans, right? So for all of us in this industry, we have to think about where is the market? And who’s going to pay for what level of convenience? If I make you a Google Data Studio dashboard, and you never look at it? It’s the same as not having it at all.
Right? You may as well have just, you know, spent it on I don’t know, do cocaine and Netflix.
Katie Robbert 18:29
I don’t even know how to respond to that one.
You know, I was in I was thinking about this morning prior to us recording.
And, you know, I feel like so there’s there’s two sides of it, there’s the companies providing the convenience.
And then there’s the companies who are buying the convenience.
And so if you are the company buying the convenience, you probably fall into one of a couple of buckets.
One is, you know, I just want somebody else to get their hands dirty and do the thing myself and do the thing.
So that I don’t have to.
The other is I don’t have time to do the thing.
But then there’s what I was thinking about was sort of that smart delegation, it’s, I probably have people on my team who could do the thing, but is that the best use of their time? Therefore, can I bring in someone to do the thing alongside my team? And then you know, they can guide them and but my team can then focus on other things.
So I think there’s when you’re evaluating this, you know, these conveniences.
You know, Chris, to your point about cooking shrimp, you know, what’s that middle ground, and that’s probably the sweet spot for both the service provider and the person buying the service is, you know, give them enough so that they can do the thing themselves, but make sure that you’re providing value for them.
And Fun fact, one of my first jobs was actually in a seafood restaurant and so I could clean and peeled shrimp Very, very quickly.
So for me, I’m always going to go for the completely unclean shrimp because I can do it myself very speedily.
And I would even compete if I thought that that was the thing that would be worth my time.
Christopher Penn 20:12
There are competitions for that.
Katie Robbert 20:14
So that’s a wrap up.
Christopher Penn 20:17
When you’re evaluating vendors of any kind, you’re looking at four factors time, money, skill and motivation.
Do you have the time? Do you have the money? Do you have the skill? Do you want to do it? judge each vendor based on where you are, where they are, and find out where they can complement you rather than overlap or deliver mismatched services.
And be careful do ask questions like what is the ROI of this particular service? Sometimes you’re going to find out the answer is not necessarily all that good.
If you have follow up questions for this, drop us a line go over our slack group go to Trust insights.ai slash analytics for marketers is our free slack.
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