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Thursday, Oct. 4, 2007 at 10:00 am

What Keywords Say About Your Visitors

By Holly Buchanan
October 4th, 2007

I was reading an article in AdAge about Ian Ayres. He and his publisher were battling over the title of his new book. He wanted to call it The End of Intuition. His publishers wanted to call it Super Crunchers.

[His publishers said] “The End of Intuition” is a terrible name. So boring. But Ian Ayres didn’t believe it. That’s what he wanted to call his new book about how much better it is to test ideas through random trials rather than just trusting some marketing guru or focus group — or intuition. His editor thought he was nuts and insisted that “Super Crunchers” was a much zippier name.

So the two of them decided to do some random testing of his book on random testing. They took out a Google ad and half the time someone was doing a search on “data mining” or “number crunching,” a little ad on the right would appear for a new book called “The End of Intuition.” Half the time the same ad appeared for a new book called “Super Crunchers.”

Based only on this information, which title do you think won? Make your best guess, then keep reading.

To me, it’s pretty darn obvious; “Super Crunchers” had to perform much better if they keywords they targeted were “data mining” and “number crunching.”

Sure enough…

“Super Crunchers” got way more traffic — 63% — and thus became the title of his book.

I was actually a little surprised it wasn’t higher than 63%, but I don’t have access to the actual ad.

There are two types of people in customer research. There are Humanistics, who have a great ability to empathize with other people. They truly want to understand why people behave the way they do, what their deeper motivations are, and how to better relate to people. Then there are Methodicals. They’re superior number crunchers. They like statistics and spreadsheets. They base their decisions on facts (even if they’re merely justifying to themselves a decision that’s already been made based on emotion).

pocket_calculator.jpgI’d be curious to see this test repeated with different keywords like “customer insight” or “customer research”or “understanding your customers.” These are keywords more likely to be used by Humanistics, who would be more attracted to the title “The End of Insight.”

If the subject matter of the book is truly aimed at more Methodical researchers, “Super Crunchers” is definitely the way to go. I’m not suggesting Ian change the title of the book. But never underestimate the power of words. The keywords you choose will affect your results.

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Comments (6)

  1. Maybe it’s just me, but as a person who does a lot of keyword research and analysis, moreover sometimes in almost literally around-the-clock chunks, I don’t think of any data-driven marketing – including and beyond customer research – as being so polarized on either the Methodical or Humanistic side. Both ways of thinking are critical to it, as much of the point involves using methods to arrive at actionable human intelligence.

    Despite being a little cheesy “Super Crunchers” is a better title though IMHO, yes. Not because “The End of Intuition” is boring, rather as I think it supports a dangerous myth I see pop and fizzle around the Web Analytics space, the notion that gut doesn’t matter anymore. That notion may make for catchy headlines, titles etc. but anyone who actually buys into that sets themselves up to be a sux0r in several ways.

  2. Nice post on Keywords and intuition Holly. Glad you added the sentence on the methodicals, “They base their decisions on facts (even if they’re merely justifying to themselves a decision that’s already been made based on emotion).”
    BTW, I think many people (less than 50%) are both – and can switch back and forth depending on the situation.


  3. If you attach the keyword “number crunching” to the ad title “Super Crunchers”, my gut reaction says that this test was not accurate since the word “Crunchers” will probably show up in bold, while no words in “The End Of Intuition” will show in bold, therefore lending a higher CTR to the Super Crunchers ad.

  4. JD is right – I’d also imagine it scored higher for the keyword number crunching than data mining.

  5. SuperCrunchers is a catchy title, and gives us one more example of why engineers should never try to be marketers.

    Better clear the name with Michael Arrington first though :)

  6. Nice tip.

    I just add this article in my bookmark.

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Holly Buchanan is a marketing to women consultant specializing in marketing to women online. You can read her blog at She is the co-author, along with Michele Miller of The Soccer Mom Myth - Today's Female Consumer - Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys.

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