One big step forward for data-driven content operations

So you want to be a data-driven enterprise? Nice. Problem: Humans suck at interpreting numbers.

A popular aspiration in business is to become a “data-driven enterprise.”

Sounds promising for content marketers and audience developers, n’est ce-pas? (French for ‘I KNOW RITE?’) We’ve got analytics!

Here’s an overlooked challenge: Humans are bad at interpreting numbers.

It’s not that we’re stupid, but we’ve all got predictable baked-in tendencies — also known as cognitive biases. See this article for some examples.

Some humans are overly pessimistic and reactive. Others ignore problems no matter how likely they are to occur (which is how you get the Fyre Festival).

Show people a problem that’s empirically 15% likely to occur, or a solution with a 60% chance of success, and you’ll get a clown-car set of disagreements on what to do. One team looking at the same Google Analytics data will argue we need shorter articles, longer articles, more “how to” articles, more video, less video, shorter video.

What to do: Have the team read that article on cognitive bias, and talk about it! Armed with some information, team members may be able to identify their individual tendencies. Or maybe the team will have to nudge them.

One productive discussion on this subject could help you make lots of smarter decisions going forward.