The Power of Numbers

Blog-11-June-2014A lot of us take numbers for granted and we do so because there are often more pressing or interesting matters to deal with. For instance, as you read this, there is the threat of austerity and recession in South Africa, revolutions are taking place in countries of the world and space capsules are on the brink of making space exploration more affordable.

All of these topics are interesting in their own right, for different reasons of course but what we forget is that fundamentally these things are occurring because of numbers, be it deficits in a countries GDP versus the countries debt, be it the number of people unhappy with a government or the amount of times a single spacecraft can be reused.

Now we do understand that, that comment is perhaps “over simplifying” these matters and to a certain extent that’s the point. We do understand that there are many factors that have led to these circumstances occurring in different parts of the world. To explain what we are getting at allow us to explain using an example.

Imagine for a moment, you walk up to an ATM. It’s the end of the month; you are expecting to draw some of your last money before you get paid. You might feel a bit anxious, “will I have enough left for the car service I need?” you ask yourself. You punch in your pin, go to the balance tab and BOOM, You’re a billionaire! Imagine the emotions that number, in that situation stirs in you.

The reasoning behind that example is, most of us would feel something like “this is awesome but there must be a mistake”, you want to believe it but there is a skeptical side to your thoughts. If you were to inquire a reason from your bank, they might say “sorry, it was a mistake” or “someone transferred it to you.” Both of these could have profound out comes for your future.

This is the principal we apply to business metrics, skepticism. Numbers are the highlight and they are very important to a company’s needs and outcomes. At first glance numbers tell a story but, delve in deeper and they can explain your business cosmos. We all know that the numbers that are most important to a company are profit versus expenditure and there are lots of different ways of checking those numbers, formulating plans and using them to improve your business. Why not apply the same mentality to your marketing strategies; management of your website, social media pages, and the list goes on?

As another example, when using your metrics report to check how many “page views” you’ve had on your website in the last month, you notice that 50% of people viewing the site have “bounced” (this is when someone views your site and then leaves it immediately). Initially, we might think “that is not good.” To some extent you might be right, maybe the content needs to be changed or spiced up but based on that number you can better decide your action.

Coupled that with the number of people viewing your site you can also see how long, on average, people have spent on your site. Let’s say they’ve spent 2 minutes looking at your site. Again you may think “that’s not so great” but remembering that 50% of people “bounced” your site that means the average time spent on your website is pertinent for 50% of your page viewers.

In other words, the page viewers that didn’t “bounce” your site were viewing your site and content for an average of 4 minutes which is very encouraging indeed.

Now that we have the numbers we can delve into the demographics of these people (more numbers) and a whole bunch of other sub sections of your viewers (more numbers) and try and formulate why half of the viewers “bounced” and why the other half love your site. With a new insight into the “why’s” and “how’s” of these numbers based on your viewers, making decisions becomes easier and will provide for more accuracy on your strategies for your company.

Keep in mind, next time you read your reports, at first glance every number in a specific context tells you a story. Apply some skeptical thinking and critical processes and those same numbers can tell you something amazing.

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