Insights hidden in plain sight

Welcome to 5-Minute-Friday-Newsletter-01. “When Insights are Hidden in Plain Sight”. A grateful thank you for being here from day one. Without further ado…. I have a story to share with you. Oh and as promised, you can scroll to the bottom to see my personal Accountable Five along with a meal prep recipe to set you up for the week ahead.  

A few weeks ago I woke up to the sound of my husband screaming at the television.“No wayyyyyyyyyy! Go! Go! Go! Yessssssssss!” *clap clap clap*

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Followed swiftly by. “The Socceroos WON!? Against DENMARK!”The shock and awe is lost on me.“You don’t understand. The absolute best player in that team wouldn’t get picked to play for Denmark….”He turns to me.… “It just goes to show, you can build a team where all the individual players are pretty mediocre, but collectively, if they play well together, they can still win.”It was THIS that stopped me in my tracks.

“Huh” I thought, and clocked it but didn’t think much more of it at the time.

– Cut to a recent discussion on a BAU performance report of a CRM program.–

“Our program results have been stagnating despite our continued optimisation efforts. We’re not on track to meet the forecast we had predicted. Can you conduct a deep dive analysis into what could be occurring?

”This is a common challenge of course. If it weren’t, we’d all be seeing consistent growth and be looking at charts that look like a hockey stick.

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When we consider where insight comes from, I’m always saying it’s divergence out before convergence back.

That is, diverge out to consider macro market shifts, seasonality and changes in the marketing mix.Then, there is a need to converge back with context to bring forward a hypothesis for “why” we might be seeing what we are seeing for a specific channel or program of work, and we dig deeper.

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The diverge stage is key to rule out the obvious potential causes.What do the campaign lead metrics indicate (things like click through rate)? Are they strong despite the stagnating lag measure (revenue or orders)?Is this seasonal?Is the business as a whole experiencing a downturn (i.e. reduced in-store sales or customer service enquiries)?Does the downturn coincide with a key change made to targeting, the experience or design?

These might sound like the simple questions to answer first, though in my experience and in particular in a post COVID era, marketing teams are finding it more difficult to break out of their silos and gain this direly important context for interpretation.But here’s the kicker… (pardon the pun, I’m coming back to my Socceroo’s insight, I swear)

In my experience, these basic questions are actually pretty rarely the insight to be found. So often I observe marketing teams being too quick to suggest macro impacts at *such* a stretch in an attempt to bring some understanding alongside a sad looking chart.

It’s this sort of “defensive reporting” (with poor hypotheses and less than scientific assumptions) that can lead marketing teams to lose credibility with the business.So what SHOULD teams do?

Diverge one layer deeper.

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As custodians of the customer, teams need to get together and understand how other channels in the mix are performing to take the same group of prospects and customers through the buyer journey, funnelling them through to take the action we are driving.

This means understanding is the total contribution of incremental return for all channels in the mix.

Is the channel in question performing poorly relative to other channels in the mix?

At it’s worst, this zoomed-out team view may yield an insight that other channels are cannibalising one another (i.e. targeting the same audiences unnecessarily) (an absolute shame when channels like search and methods like retargeting in performance channels overpay for customers who are otherwise highly engaged with owned, low cost channels… suppress those customers!)

At its best however, you may find that the mix is actually winning just as the Soccerros did. With all channels seeing a slight incremental lift and contributing to one profound month of growth.

No one star performer but the team working in perfect harmony.

Omni-channel attribution at its finest.

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I won’t just leave you with pointing out the problems though so here’s a solution.

Bring back the analytics war room.

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Nah not that kind of war room.We’re looking to get AWAY from the defensive, blame based strategy and TOWARDS collective problem solving.This kind of war room…

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(despite the cheesy stock image, the concept holds true)

At a high level, the requirements of a war room are as follows:

  • Ceremonies at a consistent cadence where teams are required to socialise reporting; sharing progress towards KPI’s and the outcome of experiments
  • Strategic context that brings the team together to understand how each of their initiatives should be working together towards a goal (or goals). A customer or buyer journey map is often a great anchor point.
  • A clear, collective measurement framework
  • Non-negotiable attendance and participation

In a pre-Covid world as an independent consultant, I was helping businesses build these the old fashioned way. This was, physical attendance in what was often a fishbowl style glass office in the centre of the main floor of the business (high visibility).In a hybrid world, we need to find new ways of executing (tools like Miro help to make this possible) but the overarching concept of shared insights, ceremonies and establishing a culture of accountability is still an absolute priority.In my experience, introducing this kind of solution breaks down silos and shifts the reporting culture from defensive to collaborative. All of a sudden, individuals recognise they are an important player in the a team, who is working collectively to win the game. They are no longer reporting defensively in the hope of proving they are the star of the show (or even proving they aren’t losing as an individual). 

We are looking to establish a culture that embraces fast-failure by making it safe for people to share what they experimented with and what didn’t work so that it can feed the collective learnings of the group. There are an endless number of test and optimisation ideas to be had. Which is exactly why the value is in the execution and the shared insights that come from the outcomes.

Outside of finding the right format and setting expectations, it’s aligning on a collective measurement framework that is the key requirement.The gold standard for marketing teams is to gain access to the output of a media mix model that will account for all the macro impacts like seasonality, unemployment rates, key holidays and anything else that is likely to impact your business. All while offering an output that clearly provides a percentage contribution of each channel towards an output measure (like orders or revenue).

And if your team doesn’t yet have one, it’s absolutely an initiative that should be progressed with priority. Especially with the deprecation of cookies that’s reducing the effectiveness of multi touch attribution methods. There are plenty of options available now, from “bought” software like Mutiny and Recast to Open Source codes like Meta’s Robyn and Google’s Lightweight MMM.

(Reach out if you would like a steer on what would be best for you.

Even still, despite modelling being the gold standard, teams need not wait to make progress on their marketing accountability goal.Back in my physical war room days, we didn’t wait for the perfect measurement framework or get stuck falling down rabbit holes on a collective team BI dashboard, we just put the onus on teams to come prepared to share an “accountability report” on how their program of work was tracking, what was working and what wasn’t. Then we would place post-it notes of those metrics alongside their customer journey map or strategic anchor point.

I find that through this process of collaboration, teams will naturally start to converge and shift their channel based measurement frameworks and KPI’s to become more aligned, which is after all the goal.Perhaps more importantly than improving on the effectiveness of the collective program, it’s the culture, camaraderie and growth mindset that is established through these ceremonies that I’ve observed creates a profound shift.The sooner we get out of our own single-player stats and start seeing the impact we have on the team and the game – the sooner we can start seeing the insights that might just be hidden in plain sight.


I’ve learned over the years that packing my lunch leads me to be my best self. Whether I’m heading into the office or working from home, my weekly (simple!) meal prep ritual has become a foundational habit that quite simply, leads to me making better decisions. If you want to fuel your brain and body with good food (and save yourself some cash), I’ll be sharing my weekly meal prep recipe from the week that was. 

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Eating… Obviously the soup but also these dark chocolate rice cakes hit the spot for that 3pm ‘pick me up’ Listening to… Good to Great by Jim Collins Reading… Deep Work by Cal Newport Watching… Lex Fridman started a book club. There was a lot of controversy about it on Twitter though I’m so inspired that he pressed on and followed his gut to deliver on his promise. I loved watching his first instalment, a review of 1984 by George Orwell. Watch here.  Connecting… Had the joy of connecting with Jana Marlé-Zizková via an introduction from a friend Juan Mendoza (who’s newsletter, The MarTech Weekly, you should sign up to if you don’t already). Jana is doing some incredible things with her organisation She Loves Data and I’m looking forward to supporting them this year. 

That’s it for the first instalment. Enjoy your weekend, stay curious and don’t forget to pack your lunch. Until next week. 

– Kate

Hi I'm Kate! I'm relentlessly curious about the attribution and origin of things. Especially as it relates to being a corporate girly balancing ambition and a life filled with joy.

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