It’s a rare thing when I take exception to one of Seth Godin’s posts. But his last post on “Too much data leads to not enough belief” had me quibbling.
Of course, there IS a lot that I agree with in the post: namely that people respond to a story and a tribal affiliation far more strongly than they will ever respond to a spreadsheet. But I guess from a Web perspective, the idea of granularity and data as a hindrance to belief just doesn’t square with my observations.
What I’ve tended to see is the following:
- People go to the Web to check things out. They’re specifically researching a purchasing decision and are expecting more data from a Website than from an ad or even a direct mailer. When you don’t provide that data, people get suspicious.
- Content rich Websites tend to convert better than content poor sites. That doesn’t mean the data should take center stage or should replace a well-crafted story, just that those people who want to drill down on specifics, well, they want to be able to drill down on specifics. And they’ll find those specifics from somewhere, even if it’s from an ill-informed opinion on a forum somewhere.
Can you imagine Newton Running being unwilling to show you the science behind their running shoes? What would that do to your confidence if they wouldn’t show you (or didn’t have any) data from their tests?
Again, I may not need to study their graphs or watch all of their videos or look up their patents, but the very fact that they’re passionate enough to get into the nitty-gritty details with me — the fact that they do actually have data — makes me far more willing to believe them and to buy a pair of their shoes than if they wanted me to just accept their product/idea on faith.
I also think that passionate proof is an essential element of any high-margin or premium product’s Website, which is one of the main reasons I wrote my critique of Best Made Axe’s lack of proof.
To me, data isn’t a hindrance to passionate belief — it’s proof of it. How can you be passionate about an idea, design, or product unless you’re willing to put it to the test and show off the results?
What’s Your Experience
Of course, I’m always willing to hear thoughts from my readers. What do you guys and gals think? What’s been your experience? Have you ever had a situation where less would have been better when it came to proof and substantiation?