How to Use Data Analytics

Sport Data Analytics Example
Data Analytics in Sport – Start with Yourself

Data analytics seems to be getting a great deal of press lately. The emergence of “tech” as a social norm, the evolution of the internet and the attention of the big four social networking giants (Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…although I’ve seen some good arguments about who that last one should be) has brought data and its study (data analytics) to the forefront of our attention.

So what’s the buzz about data analytics?

Well, for one, it’s been around as long as math – pretty much since the beginning of time; and we’re just now starting to realize how “cool” it is to actually look at math as something fun because let’s admit it – that’s what data analytics is – statistics…and statistics is math.


Data analytics is the use of information that can be broken down and compared and contrasted in different ways from which, once analyzed through different lenses or perspectives, conclusions can be drawn about whatever it is that’s being studied (that’s my own definition). Hhmm, that sounds dense. Let’s say that in a different way. Data analytics is the analysis of data for better outcomes.

Let’s Try Something Together

Look at it in terms of your personal finances…do you track your monthly expenditures? This is the easiest way to use data analytics and to learn on your own. Open up MS Excel (yes that program that can with your copy of MS Office with the “X” on it that you haven’t used since college) or whatever spreadsheet software you have, Google Docs is a great alternative, and start by making a spreadsheet that looks like the screenshot above. (When you do this on your own, replace the “X’s” with actual positive or negative numbers where appropriate)

Label the first column Assets/Liabilities, the next 31 columns labeled consecutively from 1-31 and the last column TOTAL. Below those columns enter everything that you spend money on and everything that puts money in your bank account under the corresponding date that the money enters/leaves your bank account. For most of us, our “assets” are our day jobs – call this “work” or “salary” in your spreadsheet. Each asset or liability gets one row and each transaction goes under the corresponding date. If you get interest on your bank account, call that “interest”. Do that for everything you could consider an asset.

Then, whatever you spend money on, track that on your spreadsheet as a negative balance, since those are liabilities or things that cost you money. Do this for an entire month and, WA-LA!, you have data! Do this another month and POOF!, you have some real information for data analytics. And guess what…this stuff actually matters to you (or at least it should)! If you have no idea how to do analytics, just think of it as the digital version of balancing your check book. I realize I shouldn’t take for granted that most people know how to do this, but for the sake of argument I will. Once you’ve built up a couple of months of expenses and income, you can begin to make some real data comparisons regarding your money situation.

Now think about this exercise in terms of what your sports business is doing…probably something much more complicated with many more variables – that’s ok. Statistics takes some time to learn and data collection and analysis doesn’t happen overnight. Also, just like this example, data collection must come before data analysis. You can’t analyze what you don’t have!

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

Also important to remember is that your data must be “clean”. By that, I mean that you must use the same nomenclature, phrasing, listings, and categories for every piece of information. Everything MUST be consistent. You can make this is as complex as you want, however this goes both ways; the less information you track the less work this will be, but also less meaningful – the more information you track, the more complex and challenging the analysis will be, but also the more meaningful the conclusions will be in your final results. Now this is not something to be intimidated by, but this is how to use data analytics in a very simplified example.

Data Analytics in Sport

In a sports business setting, the work you are using data analytics for is much more complex. For example, you’re using data analytics to figure out athlete health and performance, you’re using it in the box office to track sales and customer buying activity, you’re using it the marketing office to track advertisement and online engagement and effectiveness, you’re using it in the concession stand to track what items are selling the most and at what particular venue locations on what days and at what points during the game and so on and so forth. If you want to learn to use data analytics, I strongly suggest you start by tracking your own financial situation. Once you’ve gotten a few months of worth of data and figured out everything you can on that front, it’s time to advance to more complicated avenues.

If you want help or have any questions or comments, drop me a message on Twitter or LinkedIn and let’s work together and start a conversation. I hope you enjoyed this post and learned something new. My challenge to you is to actually start tracking your own finances. By doing so you’re both taking control of your financial future and learning a useful professional skill! If you’d like to support Bill’s Sports Business Blog, please sign-up for the newsletter and consider using my Amazon Affiliate link. At no additional cost to you, I’ll make a small commission on your purchase. The proceeds from your use of my affiliate link directly offset the costs associated with this blog. Thank you for your support.

Go Forth!

How do you monetize social media?

Gameday in Seattle
Sounders FC, Centurylink Field, Seattle, WA

That question seems to be all the rage these days, doesn’t it? How do you use these newly adopted social tools to assist in meeting your financial goals? Well, one of the (many) principles I try to live by goes like this – “the answer only matters if you are asking the right question.” I’m not sure where I was when I heard this for the first time, but it is certainly a thought-provoking philosophical statement indeed.

So, what kind of questions are you asking? What are your department’s bigger goals? Do you have a comprehensive marketing plan and strategic vision that actually align with one another? Social media is a tool – a means to an end that exists to accomplish an objective. The best way to figure out how to monetize social media is to come up with some arrangement of being able to measure your results, then monitor the activity you’re seeing and test, test, test! If you only put out the same promotions on the same websites or networks, how will you really know if what you’re doing is what people want? Regardless of what your results might be, the only way to know if it works or not is to try something different and then compare the two.

Here are a few rules for and examples of social media monetization:

– Rule of thumb: Track everything and collect data in every way you can. Even if you are not yet set up to analyze or do anything with your data, there will be a point in time where you will want and need some information to work from. Collect now, analyze later.

– Do A/B testing. I typically read about this in regards to email marketing, though it applies in several areas of social media. When sending emails, cut your list in half and send two different looking/feeling/edited emails with the same information with different links that point to the same place or sales page; then go see which list of people clicked more. If you really want to get technical, on your next email, switch the two lists such that each list is getting both types of emails. That would give you more confidence in terms of maximizing reliability and validity. After all, why would you do all of this work if  you can’t trust your results!?!

– Post a uniquely coded link on Facebook to track clicks and buys, then put a differently coded link on Twitter to track clicks and buys on that account. Which network gave you better results? Also pay attention to what time you are sending out your posts – each network may be different in terms of when people or fans are engaged, so do some testing there too. On Facebook, at what times do your posts get the most clicks/likes/comments? On Twitter, same thing – when are your fans actually engaged and looking at your tweets as they go flying by?

– Sponsored posts and tweets are another way to easily monetize your social media. Integrate this into your corporate marketing portfolio and rate card as something that might be attractive to businesses who want to advertise to your fans. X number of social media posts @ $Y each or per year, etc. = Revenue!

This list could go on and on, but start with figuring out why you’re on social media and pursue those avenues as a result of where you are headed. I’ve said this before, but your team website should be your home base with all links pointing there. That is the one space on the internet where your team has full control of how they present themselves. With so many social networks available, all of which are changing their rules on a regular basis, and with new ones coming online every day, your website should feel like the one genuine place your fans will always be comfortable.

Define your mission and vision. Develop a plan. Collect as much information as you can. Point all links to your own website. Simple right?

Go Forth!

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