In this week’s In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris tackle how to present analytics and data to stakeholders in a world where opinion and emotion increasingly triumphs over data and basic facts. How important is accuracy? How do we stay true to our commitments to be data-driven when decisions are made with emotions? Tune in to find out.
– The world is becoming more post-factual, meaning that people are increasingly basing their decisions on emotions and opinions, rather than facts and data.
– This makes it harder for data-driven marketers to provide value, as people are less likely to take action based on accurate data.
– One way to combat this is to help people understand the emotional state they will be in with or without the accurate data.
– Another way is to make data-driven reports more appealing, by telling the full story of why and how certain decisions will impact the business in the long term.
– Finally, it is important to continue to provide accurate data, even in a post-factual world, as this is the foundation upon which sound decisions can be made.
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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 0:00
In this week’s In-Ear Insights, let’s talk about accuracy, factual data and reality.
One of the things that Jay Baer said recently in one of his newsletters was that we now live in a post factual reality.
His explanation was that we live in a world where facts and data don’t matter to an increasing number of people who, for whom opinion and emotion are much more important.
He points out, of course, the usual things in politics and stuff.
But even just agreement or disagreement about basic scientific facts, is on the table.
So this got me thinking, Katie, and I want your opinion on this as somebody who is both more emotionally mature than me.
Katie Robbert 0:50
Throw out the big guns today.
Christopher Penn 0:53
And add rooted in in the work that we do.
How important is accuracy and data and facts from from the perspective of the work that a company like Trust Insights does when we think about the reports that we produce for clients, for example, we know some of our clients don’t use some of our reports, they just kind of wing it.
And I know we’ve talked in the past about it because the reports not useful.
But I got Jays newsletter got me thinking maybe it’s simply because in certain instances, certain stakeholders simply are living in the post factual reality where their opinion, and their feelings are all that matter.
And it wouldn’t matter what the data said.
They’re just going to do things their way.
Katie Robbert 1:38
Well, that’s I mean, that’s not new.
That’s, you know, a, what a tail is oldest time, what is it? My, my dad used to say, and I know that he didn’t originate this.
This phrase, but basically like good enough only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
And so basically, like, I feel like our job is to provide as much accuracy as possible.
But we have no control over what people do with that information once it’s in their hands.
And, I mean, yeah, you’re right, we have talked about this before, my non scientific assumption is that, you know, some people choose to ignore the data, because it’s hard to do something with it, in the sense that it may not be telling them what they think they know what they want to know, what they want the results to be, and it contradicts what they want to do anyway.
So, you know, take a really terrible example of skydiving, statistically speaking, you know, how many people you know get injured, or there’s fatalities from skydiving, you know, every year, you could look at that data, and still decide, you know, what I still want to do with though, forget the risks, I still want to do it.
And so that’s a very clear cut example of the data is telling you that there are risks involved, the data is telling you the likelihood of you’re, you know, getting injured, you know, possibly dying from doing this thing, you know, things go wrong, but yet you are still deciding screw the data, I’m gonna do it anyway.
I feel like those are, you know, big risks that you’re willing to take.
And it’s the same thing with the data that we provide, we’re providing, you know, not life or death data, we’re providing data around how to spend your marketing budget, essentially, what’s working, what’s not working.
And for some companies, they may have already decided I want to go all in on email, then here we come with our data and say, Actually, email is your weakest channel.
And they’re like, cool.
I’m going to do it anyway.
And so sometimes the decision has already been made when we enter the conversation.
And sometimes we get muted.
And sometimes, you know, people do listen to like, oh, Trust Insights is providing information.
So our job regardless of what someone does with it, is to provide accurate data period.
You know, it’s not good enough data.
It’s not close enough data.
It’s, here’s the accurate data.
The conversation then becomes different once it leaves our hands.
Christopher Penn 4:22
But I guess the question is, given that there are there are literally millions of people who actively and eagerly pursue non factual data and analytics and forecasts, how does a data driven marketer continue to provide value in that environment? For example, in the example you gave, you know, the stakeholders said, This is what we’re doing because this is the way you know, I think things are going and you’re sitting there looking at your day going well, that’s dumb.
But, you know, for the marketer that wants to keep their job? What do they do in that situation where you’re working in a post factual environment.
Katie Robbert 5:09
So what I would recommend is, you know, to continue to measure the effectiveness of the campaign that you are actually running regardless of so if we say don’t do email, you know, marketing, and your stakeholder says we’re going to do it anyway.
Okay, then your job is to then start to measure the effectiveness of email marketing to see, are you hitting your numbers? Are you hitting your KPIs? What are the goals, you start to work your way down? business goal is, you know, X number of dollars in revenue? What are the KPIs that roll up into that goal? What are the metrics that roll up into that KPI? Where does email marketing fit in? So that as a data driven marketer then becomes your new task of like, okay, this is what they want to do, let me make sure that I am participating in a way that I’m measuring it as effectively as possible.
Now, on the side, maybe one of the things that you’re also doing is doing other calculations to say, almost like the probability calculations of if we were to pull back on email and go more in on social, for example, this is what it could look like.
So you’re providing both stories.
And so if your stakeholders like an email is not working, whose decision with this that you then have that backup plan to be like, okay, so if we pivot to, you know, more social or SEO, these are the results that we could likely get.
And so you’re measuring what they’ve asked, but then you’re also providing that, you know, supplemental data to say, when that doesn’t work, here’s what we could be doing instead.
So you always kind of have that parachute for when you’re jumping out of the plane.
Christopher Penn 6:48
Yeah, what got me thinking about this was two things.
I was listening to an episode of Freakonomics, where they were talking about, you know, how people handle personal finance.
And there’s this whole contingent of folks who say that economic theory, which is reasonably well proven, does is not adopted by the majority of people because it’s factually correct.
You know, here’s how to earn more money, here’s how to reduce debt, but emotionally unsatisfying.
As opposed to a lot of the what the popular personal finance folks say.
And then the other thing I was I was Googling the other day just for amusement.
How many people search for horoscopes, and it’s in the millions of people per day, and I’m like, this is like, as far from scientifically sound and factually driven as possible, right? A planet 2.9 billion miles from here is unlikely to affect the outcome of your day, even if, you know, Neptune is in retrograde or whatever.
And I’m seeing it thinking from a forecasting perspective, there’s no accuracy, there doesn’t have to be any accuracy.
And yet, it still does.
What we are struggling to get people to do, which is to take action to make a decision.
Right? You know, what’s your, what’s your zodiac sign?
Katie Robbert 8:14
I’m a Taurus.
Christopher Penn 8:15
You’re a Taurus.
Okay, here’s, here’s your forecast for tomorrow, you’re apt to do very well, tomorrow, you can tackle any cerebral challenge that comes along the most difficult aspect.
Today, you will be dealing with your emotions, more likely, more than likely you will feel a great desire for attention and being in the spotlight.
You just want to be loved get up on stage and say what’s in your heart.
Katie Robbert 8:39
You Chris, does that sound like me?
Christopher Penn 8:41
It the whole being in the spotlight and getting up on stage and saying what’s in your heart? Probably not.
So this is an example of a forecast that is completely wrong, right? It is.
And yet, there are millions of people who will say who will use this as a basis for making a decision.
Even if the factual part the accuracy is zero, it will still compel them to action.
Whereas we can hand somebody digital customer journey or multi touch attribution analysis, and they don’t take action on it.
And this is the thing I’m trying to wrestle with is with so many people in a post factual mindset, and you’re right, this is not new.
It just seems it just feels feels like it’s worse.
How do we get people to take action based on things that are more accurate versus your horoscope which, again, that that’s the part that baffles me, this is completely inaccurate, and yet it will compel millions of people to take action and make decisions.
Katie Robbert 9:43
So it’s funny because you started the conversation saying something that you know we chuckled about but we haven’t addressed is the emotion so you said you know, you know, someone who’s more emotionally mature so you clearly in your mind have some idea or notion that these decisions are emotion driven, not data driven.
And so you know, horoscopes are a really good example of that, where someone may feel lost, someone may be looking at, you know, their bank account number, and it may not reflect what they want to see.
But it’s a realistic number.
It’s, it’s, you know, the accuracy that you’re after their emotion is going to force them to look in other places to get direction on what to do.
And maybe that’s a horoscope.
And so maybe, you know, if my bank account is like negative $500, my horoscope says, go get on stage and speak your truth.
And I’ve in my brain, I connect the dots and go, Okay, if I go do that my bank account is going to go up.
Now, is that a rational decision? Absolutely not.
It’s an emotional decision based on a data point that made me very unhappy.
And so I went and sought, you know, guidance from something else that did make me happy, because we as humans, are always looking for instant gratification, things that, you know, make us feel good.
And the accuracy of the data doesn’t always make us feel good.
So therefore, we start to look in other places, for things that do make us feel good.
And, you know, self congratulations on, you know, making decisions that are not based in reality.
But everyone’s like, yeah, that’s a great idea.
It’s gonna make us feel good.
Or even just feeling like you have the authority to make a decision, even if it’s the wrong one might make you feel good.
So if our data is accurate, and it says, Don’t do email marketing, that feels bad.
But being in a position of power and saying, Yes, we’re going to do and everyone going, Yeah, good job, that makes us feel good.
And so that is where we start to see that distance grow wider between accuracy, and opinion, because you can find other people who have opinions similar to you, I believe these are called cults.
But they can like sort of boost you up and be like, Yeah, that’s the greatest thing in the whole wide world.
Because we as humans are always looking for something to believe in, for something to skip behind for a community for whatever the thing is.
And the data doesn’t always lend itself to those emotions.
Christopher Penn 12:25
So how do we? How do we help marketers and business people and just people in general, transform facts into things that are even more emotionally satisfying, so that they use them so that they make decisions with them so that that they get the benefit? Because otherwise, if the world is, or people are culturally becoming more and more post factual, more emotion driven and willfully and intentionally disregarding reality? Yeah, obviously, the outcomes, you know, met certain mathematical outcomes are inevitable, because that’s just how math works.
But B, selfishly makes it harder for us to win clients, you know, higher Trust Insights will make you unhappy.
Katie Robbert 13:20
Well, it’s you’ve laughed, but you know, how many how many exercises have we gone through so Gini Dietrich, our good friend and advisor, one of the very first exercises that she had us go through was to describe the Heaven and Hell of what happens when they work with us, or don’t hire us.
So the hell being the, you know, you didn’t hire Trust Insights here, what happens? And then they haven’t been you did hire Trust Insights.
And here’s how great your life is.
And so that very much uses that idea of emotionally driven decisions, even regardless of the data.
And so the data almost becomes secondary, it becomes less important than making sure people understand what their emotional state is going to be when they choose or choose not to use the data that we provide.
And so that’s really what our goal is, is to, we already know, we can make accurate data, we already know that we can analyze it, we can forecast it, we can, you know, put it into models, it’s going to come out correct.
We already know that piece.
The piece that we need to do a better job of is that human experience of the emotions that a decision maker, a marketer, a team, an organization, a community go through when they have or don’t have that data.
So is there FOMO when certain people sign up for a newsletter, and then other people don’t? Oh, my God, what am I missing out on? It’s the greatest thing I need to sign up for it immediately.
That’s an emotional response.
Versus here’s a newsletter that’s going to give you information.
Not a whole lot of emotion in that.
And so our job is to, is to help people tap into those emotions of what happens.
And so going back to that example of the stakeholder who just wants to do their own thing, if we’re seeing that happen with stakeholders, and they’re saying, Well, I don’t care what your data says, our job is to then help them start to understand their emotional state with or without the accurate data.
So stakeholders, like we’re doing email great.
And we say emails not going to work.
What does that mean for the stakeholder? Wow.
So I hear you’re saying you really want to do email, what we’re seeing is that in three months, you’re going to be pretty miserable when you see the results.
And you may find yourself, you know, answering to your board of Why did all of that money gets spent into a channel that just isn’t converting for you? So Are you really willing to take the risk to put your neck out there and say, Yes, let’s go all in on email, when we can show you that that’s not going to be that that’s not going to work.
However, if you want to be the hero, let us show you what channels are converting and where you should be spending your money.
And so it’s the same conversation, but you start to include some of that emotion into it and help the person really understand what it means directly for them personally.
Christopher Penn 16:26
Yeah, I just keep coming back to like, how do we make a report? You know, in attribution analysis, how do you make it as appealing as a horoscope? You know,
Katie Robbert 16:37
so one of the things that we don’t do a great job of, and I can admit, this is the sort of the actionable piece of it, it’s very matter of fact, it’s, you should do more of this, you should do less of this, but we don’t get into the why, or the longer term impact of you know, if you continue to do this, we will continue to see your numbers decline, which then leads to, you know, less revenue, which then leads to layoffs.
Like we’re not telling that full story, we’re hoping that they connect those dots.
But I think one of the things that we need to do a better job of is putting all of those pieces together and not leaving any of it, you know, ambiguous.
Christopher Penn 17:20
So from a, in terms of the world becoming even more post factual.
How do we how do we play a role in trying to avert that to some degree because again, there’s there are clear mathematical outcomes that are, are going to have very substantial impacts.
I’ll give you a real simple one.
We know at this point, a certain amount of climate change is baked in.
Right there’s a it is at this point inevitable.
And so mitigating that is going to be a challenge.
In a for a sizable number of people planet wide, not just in America, but planet wide.
There’s, there’s some belief that that is not a real thing.
They are living in a post factual environment where like, it doesn’t matter what the facts say, I don’t believe in this thing.
And yet, there are consequences for everybody right now.
Hey, look, the oceans in my living room.
Hey, it’s almost December, and it’s 60 degrees in Boston at night.
Like that’s, that’s not, that’s not normal.
We help people to the extent that we can, if we can get back to saying, Okay, I may disagree with your conclusions or your outcomes, I may make a different decision.
But we can generally agree that this numerical piece of data is factually true.
Katie Robbert 18:59
I don’t feel like that’s the issue.
So pretty much everybody on the planet has access to the same types of data around climate change, for example, the data is accurate, you know, whether you believe it or not, is the issue.
And so the data accuracy isn’t the problem.
You know, so our job isn’t to convince people that the data is accurate.
Our job is to help people understand the data itself, and why taking one action versus another action will have a different outcome.
So one of the things, you know, that I often think about is and so it was sort of what we were just talking about is extending that story.
So a lot of times when we talk about, you know, making the data actionable, it’s just those immediate actions, not the longer term, you know, outcomes from Um, those actions and I feel like that’s really the challenge in those conversations of, I didn’t see any immediate, you know, gratification when I recycled my plastic bottle.
So what’s the point? Why do I need to do it the temperature didn’t change, the ocean is still the ocean, you know, the air quality still feels the same.
So what what what happened? And I feel like it’s collectively not just you and I but collectively all of us helping educate better on that individual level of yes, if you recycle your plastic bottle, here’s, you know, the chain of things that will then happen from that.
And so you may not see something today, but you may see something, you know, five years from now, for some people, that’s not good enough.
It’s all about the instant gratification.
And that’s where we get stuck, because a lot of times the data doesn’t lend itself to.
And here’s what happens immediately.
We’re asking people to take steps immediately, but they don’t get results immediately.
And therein lies the issue.
And I don’t have a solve for that.
If I did, I’d probably doing something very different have a heck of a lot more money.
Christopher Penn 21:15
Well, and we’ve seen this play out in marketing, right? Where you I know you have mentioned at a previous company, you had a stakeholders like oh, what’s gonna stop us turn off marketing? And the next day, obviously, nothing happens, right? We’re just, but three months from they’re like, Oh, why don’t we have no sales?
Katie Robbert 21:34
And that is something that yes, myself and the marketing manager knew would happen and predicted, but it fell on deaf ears, because it wasn’t an immediate outcome.
So have you ever seen those? I think they might be National Geographic.
And it’s sort of the documentaries of life without people.
And it sort of goes through the different like, so it’s like, yeah, today, all the people on the face of the planet disappear.
Tomorrow, nothing really big changes.
The next day, nothing really big changes.
It’s these tiny little miniscule changes.
And so they’re projecting out five years, 10 years, 50 years, hundreds, and it’s fascinating.
But as humans, we’re like, Well, I’m not even gonna be there.
So what do I care? If I disappear tomorrow? Nothing changes on this planet.
And that is then be that becomes the challenge is? How do we tie our data into both immediate actions and longer term actions and keep people engaged throughout that whole journey? That’s the challenge.
I don’t have a solve for that.
But that’s something that I think you and I have been thinking a lot about.
Christopher Penn 22:49
Yeah, because in some cases, we have seen you, there are instances where you will see very rapid change in, for example, in the first three or four weeks of lockdown back in 2020, which simultaneously feels like a lifetime ago and also feels like yesterday.
The canals in Venice, became clear, like you could see fish and wildlife and you could see the bottom of the canals people like oh, look, there’s actually is a bottom me like there’s a dolphin in other adult canals.
In three weeks without humans, you saw a very different world very quickly.
So there are definitely are instances.
So is it? Is it that in our focus of being data driven, are we forgetting to be psychology driven as well to forgetting that we need to tell better stories to people?
Katie Robbert 23:39
I absolutely think so.
So a really good example of this is someone who was starting a weight loss journey.
You know, a lot of us, you know, start and abandon these efforts very quickly, because we don’t get that instant gratification of, well, I did one set up.
Why didn’t I lose 10 pounds? Why don’t I suddenly have a six pack? Like, what the hell I did the thing.
And it is, that’s more of a mental game.
That’s more of that psychology of, if I stick with it, if I have consistency, these are the results I’m gonna get eventually, but I have to put in the work.
And so what? So I mean, we’re coming up on the beginning of the year on Thursday, on Friday of last week.
So this week, as we’re recording is the Monday after us Thanksgiving 2022.
On Friday, I lost count of the number of weight loss and fitness equipment.
And you know, you name it something in that industry ads that I saw on Friday trying to capitalize on.
Well, everybody overeat on Thursday on Thanksgiving.
So let’s get all these batteries to the gym.
But it’s not a long term sustainable thing.
They’re like, let me sell them some equipment that’s then going to become you know, a clothes dryer.
I don’t care what happens to them.
After that I sold the thing.
I didn’t give them a plan to follow.
I did my job.
And then people get frustrated, and then they give up because no one has given them that roadmap of, and then here’s all the things that you actually have to do, here’s the work you have to put in.
These, you know, this, the whole health and fitness industry is a lot of it’s just a scam, because they’re just trying to make money preying on people’s emotions saying, you know, so and so lost 600 pounds just by, you know, changing the way they drink water, they drink it from the left side of the cup, instead of the right side of the cup, isn’t that amazing? You’re like, wow, that’s super easy, I can do that.
You do it for one day, you don’t lose 600 pounds, you know, like, what the hell I give up.
And the way that these companies get out of it is Individual results may vary, quote, unquote.
So that’s my rant in terms of saying, we have definitely not done a great job of also factoring in the psychology of decisions.
In addition to the data behind decisions.
Christopher Penn 26:03
like no one has though, like when I look at all the analytics tools, all the reporting software, everything you know, Tableau, Google Analytics, Adobe analytics, you name it.
None of it ever speaks to here’s how to convey this information in a way that will be better received by somebody.
It’s all here’s a pile of data.
And even in, even in the reports that I’ve you know, we’ve read from the best shops on the planet of the McKinsey’s in the veins of the world, you read through these things, it’s still not it’s still not a, a well told story, that, you know, for good or ill a horoscope is a story, it’s a story of what’s likely to happen to you tomorrow, right? Whether you agree with or not, whether it’s pure emotion, and it doesn’t need to be based in reality, because emotions aren’t aren’t based on reality, emotions are based on how we feel at any given time.
Right? They may be our reactions to things, but we have plenty of examples of people who are being driven by emotions to make decisions that are against their best interests.
So it sounds like the takeaway for all of us is to figure out how do we turn? How do we how do we find ways to to tell more horoscope like, stories with information, but have the based in reality and and still have those emotional hooks that will get somebody to say, Yeah, I want to read more of this?
Katie Robbert 27:44
Well, you know, I would start to go back to the things that we know work.
And one of those things is a user story.
And so when we talk about putting together user stories, we often talk about gathering user stories, not just from the stakeholders, but from all of the individuals who may or may not be impacted by this, you know, business goal, or this piece of data that you’re looking to get, because what we’re always trying to understand as individuals is what’s in it for me, how does this impact me, and one of the ways to get people on board and have a sense of ownership is to give them a voice in it.
And so working backward from that sort of doing the reverse of it, is, how do we get people to care about it, we need to help them understand that if they do or don’t do something with this piece of data, this is what’s in it for them.
And so it’s almost like a reverse user story, because instead of saying, I want to so that we already know what the outcome is, we just need to work backward for the individuals who are, you know, likely to be participating in whatever this campaign is.
And so instead of starting with the individual, you start with the outcome and write the story backward.
Christopher Penn 29:01
Maybe I’ll just write a tool that does basic predictive analytics and just reformats it as a horoscope.
Tomorrow, your web traffic traffic will go up to 37 visitors,
Katie Robbert 29:11
and that can break it down by each individual star sign.
Christopher Penn 29:15
I mean, that would be pretty funny.
Like, you know, Neptune is in retrograde, so your email traffic will be off by 45 visits.
Katie Robbert 29:22
I do think that would harm our reputation as a company but you know, good luck to you.
Christopher Penn 29:31
If you have some success stories of your own, about how you’ve gotten to convert data into decisions that people make with their emotions, and you want to share those stories, we would love to hear them pop on by our free slack of go to trust insights.ai/analytics for marketers, where you and almost 3000 other marketers are asking and answering each other’s questions every single day.
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If there’s a channel you’d rather have it on instead, go to trust insights.ai slash T AI podcast and you can find us on pretty much every major service and while you’re there, please leave us a rating and a review.
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Thanks for tuning in and we will talk to you next time.
Be careful with that whole mercury and retrograde thing.
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