Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Extinction of the Hippo

Perhaps you’ve seen a Hippo wandering the halls of your organization? If you’re a web marketer with lofty aspirations, you may be thinking that its days are numbered. If not, you’re probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about. HiPPO is an acronym being bandied about in marketing circles that stands for the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion. However, the tools in the website operators’ toolbox are threatening the HiPPO’s reign and foreshadow its possible extinction.

Measurement technologies have changed the game for marketers operating in the digital world. Web analytics empower us to follow the steps of web site visitors and determine exactly what they do, when they do it, and whether or not their actions result in our desired outcomes. We can measure these interactions and are even getting crafty about placing value on the level of interaction visitors have with our websites to target the desirable ones and segment out the less profitable. Add to this the ability to apply predictive analysis, based on user profiles and affinity tactics, to know what customers are likely to do – even before they do. Finally, we can validate our predictions and hypotheses using testing tools to allow visitors to define the web in a method that works best for them. These actions are possible in a data-driven organization that makes decisions based on information rather than intuition.

Yet, beware the HiPPO. In the absence of data, the HiPPO thrives and will govern web pages with intuition and instinct. Your task is delicate, without angering the HiPPO, you must illustrate that the data-driven approach will enable the entire organization to prosper. Start slowly by introducing data to support the cause. Eagerly accept the opinions of the HiPPO, yet contrast them with alternatives that can be tested with tools. Use the outcome of testing as a win-win scenario. If the HiPPO was right – they are the smartest beast in the jungle; if wrong – demonstrate that the alternative got them closer to the website goals. By using data to validate your findings, you may notice that the HiPPO, (while maybe not destined for extinction) is certainly more open to ideas.

No comments: