Do you trust your data?

by Jim February 26, 2020

Ended up researching search data on shoes for some unknown reason this week. Don’t ask me why. It threw up some interesting data that stirred up opinions when I posted it on LinkedIn. As humans we often go with our gut and don’t believe what we’re seeing. This was a perfect example.

What I learned

  • Believe the facts.
  • The weird time that shoe searches peak Down Under.
  • Why logic blocks belief.
  • Don’t deny the data.
  • Online is still evolving.


Hey, welcome back Rankers. How you going? I sounded very high then, I don`t know why. Sorry.

Facts don’t lie

For some reason, sometimes when we see data we don`t believe what we`re seeing. Sometimes we don`t believe our own eyes, even though the facts are there right in front of us. This is a case in point and I find it fascinating. So I did a search for “shoes” in Australia, I don`t even know why, in Google Trends, and I thought, `Well that`s kind of weird.` Shoe searches in Australia peak at 2:00 AM. And if you can have a look at this, this is weekdays, the last seven days, Australia. And we put it there. 2:00 AM. I thought, `That`s weird.` So then I went across to LinkedIn. I thought someone else might have some insights on that so I just threw it up on LinkedIn. And boy, did it go off. We had 4,000 reads and 52 comments.

The winning interpretation, I think, was from Laurel Papworth, who suggested that it is, and she`s got an excellent video on it, actually. It was suggested that it`s shift workers, nurses, those sorts of people who are working late at night, these are break times. And then we confirmed it further by looking at other popular services, or other things that might be searched if people are actually searching for shoes. So we cross-referenced with, there is actually another spike in Australia for YouTube and for Google around the same time that people are searching for shoes.

Another popular reason for it was a number of people came in and said it`s breastfeeding moms, and that tends to happen around 3:00 AM. I don`t know why. But, it was just fascinating and the number of people that, we didn`t have a lot of people trying to explain it away, but there were some that did. And it was just like, `What? I don`t understand that.` One was Tom Goodwin, and I enjoy reading Tom`s tweets, and he put out something about, you can`t get insight from big data or something like that. And I said, `Well, I found this very insightful, this piece of information about shoes.` And he`s basically come back and said, `Well, it`s clearly bollocks.` And my point was, well, I said that search phrases for shoes peak at around 2:00 AM in Australia.

So, what is actually happening is that in Australia these shift workers, these breastfeeding moms, whoever it is, we see this trend towards 2:00 AM and then there`s a spike maybe around change of shift or something like that, I don`t know, and then it tends to drop off. Now people will say, `Well, Jim, maybe the time scale`s wrong.` That was one of the initial suggestions and that`s why I`ve got breakfast here as a control set. And you can see here, more people search for breakfast on a Sunday morning, makes sense, than they do during the week.

Trust the data

So, you can learn a lot from Google Trends, but it says something to me about the assumptions that we make when we look at data. And Tom wasn`t the only one who said, `That`s completely bollocks. I don`t believe that for a second.` Even though we`ve predicted, as I`ve shown, presidential elections, Australia`s last federal election outcome, and all sorts of things you can predict with this tool if you know how to do the comparisons and look at the right data. But when we see things like this and the data is right in front of their face and we just deny it, that is happening also on eCommerce sites like shop windows, they`re just an assumption. And this is what we need. We need this big banner.

It`s just a thing that we do. We haven`t thought it necessarily through from an experienced point of view, or a customer`s point of view, or why would the customer want this? Why would the customer be doing this? I mean, Tom said, `There`s hardly going to more people searching for shoes at 2:00 AM than there`s going to be at 1 PM at Westfield.` Well, strange comparison, but I would say that most people would search a product before they go out and buy it, to see what`s in stock, to see if the retailer has it, to compare prices, all those things. Right?

So a lot of people are doing those searches at night. A lot of people thought that I was suggesting that people were buying shoes. I`m not. I`m just saying, Google has that data and that`s all I was saying. And you can learn a lot from those sorts of things because this industry is only 25 years old, right? And this is my 25th year in the industry, but it`s 25 years old. It`s a very young industry. We make a lot of assumptions, but we`re still evolving. Things are still changing, and the way that users want to interact with your brand through your website and just going online is going to evolve more. And the thing is that you need to trust your data. You need to understand that your data has integrity, basically. And that`s one of the things that we started is has your data has got integrity?

Now, if I`m searching for the highest volume of searches in Australia over a given period of time, I`m probably going to look at Google. Make sense? They have their data. So, make sure you trust your data and understand the data and don`t just make assumptions. One of the people in LinkedIn said, `Oh, that`s just not logical.` It`s not logical from maybe our perspective, because that`s not something we would do, but it`s logical from other people`s perspective. So look at the data and make sure that you can trust the data because you`re confident of its integrity. Hopefully, that`s helpful.

Now just a heads up that I’ll be hosting a workshop once more at this year’s Retail Global conference on the Gold Coast. It’s on from May 27-29. The workshop is based on my upcoming book, “Get Stuffed Google! – Increasing Sales before Traffic” and is a must for any eCommerce retailers looking to put sales growth before the whims of Google. We have a discount code available; so don’t forget to offer it to your clients and prospects! The code is: STEWART100

I will see you next week. Thanks very much. Bye.

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