The Secret to Disruption: It's Something you DON’T KNOW that you DON’T KNOW | VITA Digital Marketing

The Vision

All great companies have a secret to success. I’ll get into the exact details of the secret later, but let’s just say that it equates to one thing – the drive to figure out something that works for your company and the passion to continue doing it. It all starts with a vision, which develops a compatible and winning mindset, and then into a set of processes to fulfill the vision.

On November 13, 1962, John F Kennedy announced that the United States would “land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth (within 7 years). ” This purely visionary statement made without much of the knowledge required to achieve the task.  NASA fulfilled on this vision and it required a certain mindset – what is that? You start with your vision – your guiding principle. Then you move on to your mindset, which should be “I accept that what I currently know about achieving this vision is a miniscule fraction of what I will need to know”. In fact, “I accept that I DON’T EVEN KNOW what I DON’T KNOW in order to achieve this mission.”

Success will require a deep dive into the unknown and countless hypothesis testing and iteration until you navigate yourself through the deep unknown and come back with a set of working processes. Soon success will be in your hands.

Let’s take a closer look at this mindset in greater detail.

Things I KNOW – I KNOW:

  • I know that my name is Richard.
  • I know that I have an MBA from Michigan
  • I know I am passionate about Marketing. Chances are likely that there are things like this that you know, too.


  • I know I don’t know how to speak German
  • I know I do not know how to perform brain surgery
  • I know I do not know when I will visit Mississippi, Hawaii and Alaska to complete my 50


This is a tough category to explain. Many think it equates with disavowed beliefs. In my case, there were times in my life I would disavow being an introvert. At the point of reconciliation, I would say.. I DIDN’T KNOW – I KNEW that, but now I KNOW for sure – I am introverted. In any case, it’s the least exciting quadrant for our discussion.


This is information that is completely hidden from view and yet to be discovered. Thus, I cannot give you any examples, but the most successful businesses know that uncovering UNKNOWN-UNKNOWNS is the “secret” to super success. And when it comes to doing this, no business does this quite like Amazon.

Amazon – Once a river, now a tsunami!

For a small, eccentric bookstore started 23 years ago in Seattle, Washington, Amazon is on the way to world domination. Amazon’s original Vision was to become “the world’s largest bookstore.”  Now over one third of the money spent in the United States is spent at Amazon. For some, it might be unfathomable to imagine how this might have happened. However, there is a method to their success, and it revolves around relentless discovery. That is, bringing light to the UNKNOWN-UNKNOWNs.

Amazon set out to discover everything about their business processes. Since this is a Marketing blog, I will focus on these practices. Amazon test every single aspect of the online customer experience. Webpage layouts, logos, call-to-action buttons, thank you pages, upselling, the checkout process etc. etc. They are never content with status quo.

You may not have known, back when the internet was in its youth, Amazon was testing its limits with its own customer-centric conversion optimization systems. They started gathering customer data with tools they developed on their own because they were so ahead of their time, the tools did not exist yet. That knowledge and data that they gathered from customers helped them gather key information that made their website so successful.

Not satisfied just to perfect processes, they go one step further and collect all of the data about each of its customers. This gathered data allows them to “know you”. When you know a person, you make their experience optimized. They use this to provide a personalized shopping experience.

Luckily for your business, you are in an age where you don’t need to develop your own analytics tools to create success for your business. With low or no-cost tools, you too can do necessary marketing optimization testing and know what you need to do in order to make changes. You, too, can know how to optimize your product descriptions, best use your product images, and maximize your order value.


Processes and Perfection

Let’s review:

  1. What I KNOW – I KNOW
  2. What I KNOW – I DON’T KNOW
  3. What I DON’T KNOW – I KNOW

Amazon operates as though #4/(#1 + #2) is infinite. These infinite discoveries are what fuels Amazon’s phenomenal, unprecedented growth. True, other companies have made a huge splash, like Microsoft. But Microsoft made its money developing enabling technology and being shrewd about its licensure. McDonalds used a process similar to Amazon’s to develop an absolute “Hot-Rod of a kitchen”. Then, much later that they employed analytics to determine “the best” locations for their franchises.

So must you be an explorer with a compass to make it in digital marketing?

What’s the best way to define a customer journey, and what are the metrics that are needed to determine how many people are making it through my sales funnel? How can you tell if these numbers are useful? Where digital marketing takes on almost a magical quality is when marketers must intuit what to measure before taking a stab at measuring it. Then they must quickly adjust to the following measures.

Leveraging Big Data for eCommerce
The digital marketers at Amazon are constantly pushing for ways to find more and better data about their customers. Their deep well of native data that we discussed earlier is used to recommend the next-best match and is highly customized based on the full Amazon customer experience. Even social interactions are leveraged, with the search giant providing ways to “vote up” the most useful reviews to trigger a purchasing decision.

Real-time Responses
Continuous testing by small, agile teams is a requirement for business success. But testing is not the only requirement for success. Once the testing has been completed, teams must be willing and able to make quick and meaningful changes and continue refining the direction. These near real-time responses from customers provide Amazon digital marketers with the data that they need to support continuous improvement.

Beyond Page Views
Marketing analytics today goes far beyond page views. You may know people are visiting your site, but what are customers really experiencing there? It’s not until you dive deep into the metrics that you’re able to uncover the answer. These metrics are what marketers call actionable metrics.

Why Are Some Metrics Actionable?
Savvy marketers make decisions based on their metrics, and while this can be guided by intuition, metrics provide the backbone of where to spend your money and focus. Determining the actionable metrics for your business allows you to iterate rapidly and more effectively, optimizing your marketing and advertising. There are a variety of ways organizations are utilizing marketing analytics, such as:

  • Customer acquisition and retention
  • Audience segmentation
  • Promotion, pricing and product strategies
  • Determining marketing mix
  • Social media interactions

Marketing metrics are the statistical measurements that organizations use to judge the overall effectiveness of marketing campaigns. Reconsider page views. While they tell us how many eyes were on the website, do they truly tell us whether these eyes were making a purchase or taking another step down your sales funnel? Unfortunately, they do not. However, actionable analytics such as the number of email subscribers are the actionable metrics that can be tied back to a percentage of the individuals who visited the site. Those two data points in combination allow marketers to make decisions that will move toward greater engagement and ultimately greater revenue.

Keep Them Clicking
Email continues to be one of the most effective marketing vehicles available. Using metrics to optimize customer email experience is crucial. A high message open rate paired with a low click through rate often means that your subject line was fantastic, but that your message didn’t offer a clear next step to your customers. Reviewing this information after every send provides you with valuable data on how to improve.

Reporting – Analyzing – Predicting
When you consider marketing analytics, it’s important to take a three-pronged approach: reporting on the past, analyzing present responses and attempting to predict the future. These allow you to make informed guesses about how you should adjust marketing to optimize your results. These analytics do not simply drive digital marketing answers, they help gain a deeper understanding of your audience. The most important thing to know about analytics is that there are always more numbers to be chased. Infinite does indeed mean infinite! It can be challenging to know when to draw the line and make decisions. However, if you always return to the definition of actionable analytics – the data that allows you to make decisions that will positively impact business goals and objectives — you’ll be one step closer to knowing what you previously did not know.

Written by:
Richard Stanton
Morissa Schwartz

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