Jim Sterne – The Godfather of analytics – at SES London

Posted by Wordtracker on 25 Feb, 2010
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Guest blogger: Chris Turberville-Tully, MD of Inspiration Inc, a UK-based digital marketing agency.

I like analytics. 'Love' I will leave to others but ‘like’, yes that’s me. I was starting to wobble though (could I love analytics?), following Tuesday’s keynote speech at Search Engine Strategies (SES) London by Analytics evangelist and rock star, Avinash Kaushik. To coin a phrase from some of my US friends, it was “totally awesome”.

Then came our last day at SES London. We were on our 3rd (4th for those of us who went to OMS on Monday) day of all things search, and the keynote was from Jim Sterne.

Expectation bar set to medium, I was prepared to listen to the Chairman of the Web Analytics Association (WAA) with an open mind. What I wasn’t prepared for, was to once again to be blown away by an Analytics guru. Jim opened with why he was qualified to speak on the subject of Analytics and Social Media Metrics that actually mattered. I was convinced and so were my fellow attendees after seeing books, posts, etc. Jim then took us on a journey...

Jim asked: what is engagement? How can it be measured? Reach, frequency, traffic, influence – they all count. But they’re just the tip of a huge iceberg – and we are mostly in denial about what lays beneath: an emotional attachment to your brand.

How, as intelligent, data gathering, analytical people could we make sense of the worth of a tweet? Jim admitted we couldn’t, or rather we couldn’t just yet. We can have all the data in the world but unless we have a meaningful way of measuring it, it’s just numbers. As yet we can’t or we don’t have enough historical information to do so intelligently.

Jim demonstrated some of the tools we could use to help show the board, department heads and clients that social media is a way forward – not the way forward – but a channel that can develop with others to form a strategy that works. He gave us a formula that I've recalled via Mel Carlson's post on Jim's talk:

How much is a social media participant worth? If:

  • 10,000 people are talking about shampoo (the conversation)
  • 1 new customer has a lifetime value of $29 (profit)
  • Joining the conversation helps 5% to try your product
  • 5% of 'trials' become customers


  • 10,000 x 5% = 500
  • 500 x 5% = 25
  • 25 x $29 = 725
  • 725/10,000 = $0.0725 per participant in the conversation
  • So each person in the conversation is worth 7.25 cents

Does social media impact on SEO? Yes, but not in a traditional Google, Page Rank, link way. Rather it could and should boost your site for people, which can only be good for your site and SEO.

The pace was relentless, never too fast, never too slow, a nod to Avinash several times, humour and wit abounded, and we sat transfixed as Jim weaved his magic.

Am I convinced that we need more analysis? Oh yes. Does Social Media matter? Oh yes again. But more data? I’ll sum up with Jim’s story: “The boy was always happy, so to teach him that life wasn’t always great his parents filled a room full of horse manure and tied it with a bow. The next day they showed the boy his present, into which he promptly dived, laughing, giggling and digging. “Son what are you doing?” they asked, incredulous. “Well mom, dad, the boy replied with so much horse !**! there must be a pony in here somewhere!”

As Jim Sterne says, the last thing we need is more data. What we need is more insight, more analysis, more segmentation and understanding.

Jim also talked about chickens and sheep but I'll let him explain that in this video:

Avinash Kaushik will also be speaking at Search Engine Strategies New York on 22-26 March 2010.

Picture of Chris Turberville-Tully

Chris Turberville-Tully is MD of Inspiration Inc, a UK-based digital marketing agency.

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