Which do you trust? The numbers or your gut?
This is a problem that I think small business owners face all the time. We all realize the importance of analytics and using numbers to inform decisions about our business, but I don’t think that you’ll meet a single business owner out there that won’t tell you gut decisions have played at least a small part in their success.
We see ‘numbers people’ all the time in the meetings we have with potential clients. What’s going to be the ROI? How many leads are we going to get? What’s the CPC? CPM? LTV? LMNOP?
And the list goes on and on and on.
While all these numbers are extremely important and we report on all of them to clients to prove we are doing our job correctly, there are times they can get in the way as well. Some people can get so caught up in the numbers, they become blinded to all the other options around them.
But trusting your gut is a scary thought for a lot of people. Most people feel like they need more justification for their decisions then just “I have a feeling about it”, but I’m here to tell you that it is about time to start listening. Why?
Your Gut Feeling Is Often Based On Your Experience
When you think of a “gut feeling” a lot of people think of a totally random thought or idea that pops into someone’s head out of nowhere, but typically, that is not how it really works. While your idea might seem like it is coming out of left field, there is almost always a real reason way in the back of your head.
I know I know… It is way more fun to think your random stroke of genius got pulled randomly from the universe, but the human brain also does an amazing job of retaining information that you thought you forgot.
It might have been an experience you had as a consumer, some statistics you might be remembering from a previous campaign, or even a conversation that you had a long time ago that inspiring your new idea. And while those might not be as good of a reason as some hard-nosed numbers, they are still very important and can lead to a lot of really successful ideas.
Analytics don’t tell you everything
Numbers are a beautiful thing, aren’t they? No matter what happens, 2 + 2 is always 4, The radius of a circle will always be half its diameter, and pi will always be 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510…. You get the picture.
And while I agree with the age-old saying “numbers never lie”, I will say that more often than not, they don’t tell the whole story. By focusing so much on numbers, you might be missing out on much of the immeasurable, particularly, how things are impacting your brand.
A good example of this is a client we currently have where we work on their SEO. We are able to look at all the statistics in Google Analytics and know that we are doing a good job, but do you know what we weren’t able to measure? The fact that Channel 12 News was looking to do a story on fitness and the reporter Googled “personal trainers in Milwaukee” and she popped right up to #1 in the search results. If you were just looking at the numbers, you would have never tied those two events together and saw how that SEO work was impacting your business in different ways.
Sure you might have gotten a lot of sales and your click-through rates might have been amazing, but in what ways have things been impacted in the long-term? How has the campaign changed the way that people might think about your business? These are the things that numbers can’t completely tell you.
Numbers have a funny way of getting in the way of growth
I was once taught that the phrase “..because we have always done it that way” was the worst ideology to have in order to make a business successful. In order to innovate, you always need to be trying new things and seeing what works and what doesn’t. When you believe too much in numbers, you can get caught in the trap of “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” when you could be coming up with new ideas that could be working even better than before.
Think about a campaign that is giving you some great numbers. You email open rates, click-through rates, and the number of leads being generated are all good and you’re super happy with the results. Why would you ever try anything different?
That is how growth gets stalled. The fear of losing out on that success could be the thing preventing you from trying something different that could be even more successful than before. People are afraid to follow their guts because they are afraid of the unknown.
While not every idea is going to be a winner, some of them are, and you are going to be happy you followed your gut when one of those ideas hit!
At the end of the day, the numbers and your gut feelings go hand in hand. One without the other makes an unbalanced decision-making process that could prevent you from making the best decisions for your business.
So watch your numbers, but also trust your guts, and watch your business thrive!