What Web Marketers Can Learn From Moneyball

Marketing and MoneyballIn 2002, the Oakland Athletics made Major League Baseball history by wining 20 consecutive games and finishing first in the American League West, despite spending only $41 million dollars on player salaries — nearly $100 million less than big market teams like the New York Yankees. Their storybook season was later enshrined in the popular book and film, Moneyball.

The secret to the A’s success was the team’s adoption of the principles of sabermetrics, which, while incredibly bold and innovative at the time, held simply that each player’s performance could be predicted based on objective, analytical evidence of his past performance. Remove all sentimentality, ditch any gut instinct or human intuition. Baseball success could be reduced to one simple metric: how often does a player get on base.

As web marketers, we all too often make decisions based on intuition or feeling. It’s easy to fall in love with a major decision or to find ways to justify continued poor performance. Marketers keep a close eye on Google Analytics, but we’ve got a lot of metrics to track. Keyword performance, total visits, time spend on page. We track engagement, we monitor social shares. But with all that data, perhaps we’re losing sight of the forest for the trees.

The number one metric that web marketers should be tracking is conversions. That’s it.

Conversions are the primary indicator of whether your website is working or not. (Not visits, not keyword rankings.) It’s the proverbial on-base percentage. If you aren’t doing A/B testing now, you should. A/B testing allows you to make tweaks to layout, user-interface or copy, and watch how conversions respond in real-time. Are you running an SEO campaign? If so, forget about how many visits your keywords are driving; focus instead on how many conversions you’re generating! A majority of analytics configurations don’t even have conversion tracking enabled — does yours?

Just like the A’s analytical approach to baseball revolutionized the game, a small player on the web can make an impact beyond the limitations of any small budget — just by focusing on the right analytics. Streamline your analytics approach and allow conversions to drive your decision-making. You just might hit a home run.