There is no right answer there are only choices

The fact is that all your choices are based on data. When I say all I mean all choices.

The data sources are varied.

  1. You have sensory data. What you personally can see, hear, smell, touch and taste form probably your biggest internal database to draw information from. This data is stored in your memory. You know what Chocolate tastes like right? So you can make a choice based on this data whether you like it enough to buy it or not. You know the atmosphere at a football game right? the sight and sound of 50,000 people singing for the glory of your team? Then you know whether or not to go to a game or not.
  2. You have friends and colleagues that tell you stuff, usually the local things like the great new bar you should try or the inside scoop about the great band coming to your city.
  3. You also have a lot of like minded individuals that you’ll never meet that freely disperse information about all sorts of things. When was the last time you read a review about a restaurant? or visited tripadvisor before booking a holiday?
  4. Then you have the informed opinion. The news, trade views, government and authoritative voice that are sometimes fact based that everyone is conditioned to believe because the “authority” says so.
  5. Then you have numbers and stats that effect your choices in a number of ways. If 50,000 people go to the football game then there must be something good about going right?

I believe that I can predict the right answers more often than I get them wrong by combining all the data I have, putting into context and coming up with information. This allows me to make informed choices.

It’s the same in business. When you want to make more money you need to have as many informed choices which combines all the different data points you have.

Just like in life it doesn’t always work. But we’re living in the age of information and there has been no better time to learn how to make informed choices. Food for thought.

Steve is a well known analytics specialist, author and speaker. A pioneer since 2002, he established one of the first European web analytics consultancies (Aboavista), later acquired by Satama (now Trainers’ House) in 2006. In 2008 he wrote his first book Cult Of Analytics published on May 14th 2009. He currently serves as CEO at Quru and has presented and keynoted web analytics topics across Europe. These include The Internet Marketing Conference (Stockholm), The Search Engine strategies (Stockholm), IIH (Copenhagen), the IAB Finland (Helsinki), Media Plaza (Amsterdam), Design For Conversion (Amsterdam) The eMetrics Summit (London, Munich, Stockholm), Divia (Helsinki) in addition to sitting on dozens of panels.

Posted in Conversion

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3 comments on “There is no right answer there are only choices
  1. Gregory Bateson’s idea that “Information is any difference that makes a difference” is shining through your post, Steve, with which I whole-heartedly agree.
    “Information”, we may concede, means pulling together a message and a context (of origin, intent, persuasion rhetoric, whatever), and by spotting and acknowledging the difference between these two entities we derive what we can consider as “information”.
    If an e-mail subject line tells you “@blackbeak: Viagra 67% off” and you find that mail in your spam folder – how likely is it that you are even bothered to look at it? How often have you, on the other hand, missed an old friend’s or acquaintance’s e-mail from that same folder, because you didn’t recognize that the e-mail nickname “pussycat123” was actually him/her?
    Getting the balance right between what data can tell you – and what it can’t – is becoming a more and more complex endeavor. The idea that we could extrapolate reality from one data source (let’s say: a piece of fairy cake :) ) seems a bit inadequate, no? And: being certain about weighted conclusions derived from different data sources surely becomes an art, and is no longer a pure question of science or math.
    If you’re right about “all choices are based on data” (and I bet you are!), you are indicating that choices may be perceived as right (as in “repeated conversion” and “advocacy for a brand”) or wrong (as in “post-purchase dissonance” or “churn”). This perception can at any point flip from one side to another – and back.
    Couldn’t agree more with how you’re building it.


  2. Interesting analogy but what about another source: gut feeling (or instinct if you prefer :))?

    It is something that we often use in our choices – professional or personal – together with more rational “data sources” like the ones you listed.

    I think business is the same – do not rely solely on gut feelings but it should never been discarded (you once wrote about the importance of “experience”).



  3. @Michael; And the presentation you did for the Web analytics wednesday event was an even clearer way to discuss it.

    For those that missed it a must see way to put data into context which involved pygmies and 16th century cartography.

    @Michael Notté

    I agree and did once write about gut feeling or instinct being a huge part of decision making.

    However even instinct is based on data. You instinctively know something based on your senses. You know instinctively not to touch a hot plate but you learned that from the pain you experienced the first time you burned yourself (on anything). Your brain stored the data hot=pain if touched.

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