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Tired of tracking too much data from multiple sources? Create a Be All, End All spreadsheet – it could help your career.

Download the podcast from iTunes, or play it below:


[Summary of what I talk about in this week’s podcast]

I love stats.

While talking to someone recently, I realized there a bunch of numbers I carry around in my head
– I took more than 10,000 tech support calls in my first job
– Friends and I estimated we drank 6-10,000 beers in college
(this just sparked a discussion in the office… how many beers do YOU estimate you drank?)
– I’ve tracked the miles per gallon for every fill-up in every car I’ve owned
– Since I purchased the Nike+ running chip in 2006, I’ve completed:

400 workouts
216 hours (9 straight days)
1,473 miles (NY to Boston and back 3.3 times)
Average pace 8:48
155,476 calories

I know that this is podcast episode 132, and I know exactly when and how many times each and every show has been downloaded. The total is well over 100,000 right now, and the most downloaded is Episode 85, How to Write Great Tweets.

So if you’re the type of person that hates numbers or you’re a creative type, maybe you should skip this show. But if you love getting down and dirty with the details, the two stories I’m about to tell might help you, your business, and your career.

Some of this might be obvious, but sometimes a little case study proving it helps out.

Story 1 – ESPN.com
In the podcast I talk about my job at ESPN.com in Seattle. I was new there, hired as a producer but also doing a lot of marketing. We were launching 40 online games per year in nearly every sport (not just football and baseball, but golf and nascar racing).

The question “How many people signed up for X sport in X year?” kept coming up. The answer was found in many sources: spreadsheets, revenue numbers, engineers, people’s heads.

I discovered three things about these numbers:
1) They were important
2) It was annoying to be asked about them constantly and not have a definitive answer
3) This was ongoing, and wasn’t going to stop

So I spent a lot of time (originally) gathering and verifying the data from multiple sources and creating:

The Be All, End All Spreadsheet.

Story 2 – Wired.com

Same background… I was new here, with something to prove. I knew that to be able to do my job well and be a good marketer looking toward the future, I had to know past trends. So I dug up stats on everything Wired.

The spreadsheet now has 21 tabs, filled with every key performance indicator over the last 4 years. And I’ve now taken over the master spreadsheet for social media, tracking the Facebook and Twitter metrics for all of Conde Nast Digital’s 25 sites.

You might be like, um Jim, are you just telling us to take important data and collect it in Excel? Yes I am. You don’t have to drink 10,000 beers to figure that out. But here are…

Benefits and lessons learned:

1) You become the go-to guy (this can be good and bad)

2) You can find amazing insights, and bosses love this stuff. Things like

– Facebook traffic on site X is up 4X this year, and is now #3 referrer of traffic
– The top search on men’s fashion site Y is “watches,” giving the sale team ammunition to sell
– X thousand people a month search for Malcolm Gladwell on The New Yorker, which can help aid navigation
– The optimal number of slides in a slideshow on site Z is 10; and the average users views 5.4 of those slides

3) It’s easy to get overwhelmed, so focus on your needs

4) Raw numbers are great, but trending is key

5) Two words: Executive Summary
Wherever you can, use photos and graphs and bullets vs. long paragraphs and raw numbers

6) With the advanced tracking that is now standard, and the ease of downloading and charting progress, sometimes the easy part is GATHERING the data. The hard part is determining, WHY is this happening.

So if you’re looking to make yourself more valuable at work, or sick of repetitively searching for the same data month after month, consolidate into a Be All, End All spreadsheet. It’s worth it.

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