UTM's Demystified

UTM’s Demystified: Why tracking is so important to your business

Want to know the #1 reason most companies can’t attribute where revenue is coming from accurately?

Spoiler alert: It’s all about UTM’s.

Are you using UTM’s for all your marketing efforts? Have no idea what a UTM is?

No matter where you are in your tracking journey, this video can help you learn how to improve your tracking skills. We have also included a transcript of some of the best insights from our conversation below:

How can I make sure that I am being data driven in my business?

You need to take emotion out of your decision making process if you really want to become a data-driven company. Often the climate of the business has a huge impact on our lives, so it’s often difficult to separate your emotions from the decisions that you make, especially during the hard times. When the times are the toughest are generally when you need to be the most data-driven, and those are the hardest times to take emotion out of the equation; but if you do, it will help you to trust your decision-making process much more.

Your data will always tell you a story; it just sometimes tells a story that you don’t want to hear. Often we find that people stop listening to their data when it gets hard, or right when the details are becoming the most important; but those are the times when you need to listen to the story that it’s telling you even more.

What are lead indicators vs lag indicators?

What does lead indicator or lag indicator mean? A lead indicator drives a lag indicator. In sales, a lag indicator would be their revenue, or number of sales made. Sales people really don’t have direct control over how many sales that they make in a day, but they do have control over their lead indicator: how many calls they make that day. Content marketers don’t have direct control over how many website visits they get in a day, but they do have control over how many blog posts or emails they write.

Control what you can control. You almost always have direct control over your lead indicators. Focusing your efforts on improving the things that you have control over will always yield better results than focusing on the things that you have no control over. Everyone wants more leads and more revenue, but you need to drill down and find the things that drive that success.

In order to understand what drives your success, you need to have tracking in place. Once you know that your data is trustworthy, you can drill into it and find exactly what yields results in your business, and those become your lead indicators. By replicating your successes and holding yourself accountable to your lead indicators, you will drive success on your lag indicators. It’s all about accountability. If you hold yourself accountable to your lead indicators, you will drive that success on the lag indicators.

How do I make sure that I am tracking my lead indicators properly?

Your output is only as good as your input. Every business wants to know how they can be more effective. We have found that most of them don’t even have the right tracking in place in order to even find their lead indicators though. Most businesses have several systems in place that aggregate data, but then those systems don’t talk to one another, and the company isn’t sure where to go to get answers to their questions. Facebook will tell you that they are getting X number of conversions per day, Adwords will claim that they produced Y result, and Google Analytics will tell you something totally different from each of those.

The best place to start with tracking is at the very beginning. Before you ever create a piece of content, you need to know the intent of that content. Once you know the job of that content, you can hold it accountable to how well it performed the task. If the goal of your ad was to promote awareness, then you don’t need to look at how many conversions it produced. If the goal of the ad was to drive form submissions, then the number of likes on the post isn’t really important.

How does Metrics Mapping help my tracking efforts?

We here at Praxis like to go through a thought experiment known as Metrics Mapping. Metrics Mapping is a process designed to answer fundamental business questions with very specific, actionable data.

  • We start by asking ourselves a business question, such as, “How do we increase conversions on our site?” or “How do we get more qualified traffic to our site?”.
  • Once we know the questions that we want to answer, we decide on 3 key performance indicators that help answer that business question.
  • Then we ask: “Where does that data live?”. For every KPI, we need a source of truth, or a place where we can pull that data from.
  • From there, we validate the data. As much as we would love to just trust what Facebook or Google tells us, there are a million and one ways that your data can be skewed, lost, or misreported along the journey.
  • After that, we apply formulas, set up reporting, and visualize the data.

This process may seem tedious and difficult, but it makes all of the difference in making sure that you don’t waste your time on vanity metrics or tracking things that don’t really matter.

What are UTM’s and what do they have to do with everything that we have talked about?

As we talked about earlier, you don’t have direct control over lag indicators; you can only influence lag indicators through your lead indicators. On the other hand, you have complete control over your lead indicators; but most people don’t know which lead indicators have the most influence on the outcomes of the lag indicators. That’s where UTM’s come in. UTM’s allow you to trace your lag indicators all the way back to the initial lead indicators that generated the result.

UTM’s pass through specific information to help you attribute exactly where traffic came from. Not only do UTM’s help you create accurate source data, they can also contain information such as if it was a paid ad or an organic post that drove the user to your page. They can also contain campaign information, so you can know the effectiveness of your campaigns; they can even help you track your A/B testing efforts within the campaign.

This granularity on the data unleashes the true power of your lead indicators. By knowing exactly what influences your customers to come to you, you can focus on the things that will actually drive the lag indicators, rather than blindly guessing at the most effective use of your time and money.

It all comes down to what works, and tracking is the only way to know what truly works best.

If you want to learn more about UTM’s, their best practices, and how to build them; be sure to check out our course on UTM’s here: https://datarich.thinkific.com/courses/utm-tracking-course

Organifi dashboard data team

How Organifi became data rich

Want to see what’s possible when you turn your data into growth?

We sat down with one of our long-time clients, Organifi, to talk about how their business has changed and grown since they became data rich. Below is the full video of our conversation, as well as some of the highlights:

Your output is only as good as your input.

There is a reason that we say this all of the time; as Louie described, Organifi was using dashboards before they became our client, but their dashboards were just linked to spreadsheets. People updated the spreadsheets on a daily basis (or at least they were supposed to), but their dashboard data relied on human input. We automated out their dashboards, eliminating the possibility of human error, and also guaranteeing the most up-to-date information.

This data has helped them to rapidly scale their business.

How has this data changed the way that they do business?

Organifi can now see the lifetime value of their customers broken out by the channel that they come from, or what they purchased when they became customers of Organifi. This allows the team to determine and adjust their ad spends across different platforms, and better determine which products to push. The best part of all of this? They know that their data is accurate. Since we removed the human element of their tracking, they now have complete confidence in their reporting.

The team at Organifi has daily huddles where they can review the key performance indicators for each of their departments. This reporting in front of the whole company allows for greater transparency across the company. This also increases the accountability of each individual department. As Louie describes in the video, this increased accountability has also led to an increase in friendly competition between the departments, creating a “lift-effect” for the company.

Louie also talked about how the democratization of data allows everyone in the company to feel like their efforts make a difference. Everyone from the C-suite to the entry-level employees sees the same data, and can see how every department contributes.

What data is fun to look at?

Louie’s favorite metric to look at is E-commerce spend vs revenue. This is his favorite because it allows him to see their ROAS in a visual way (as he puts it, the big spike with the little one beneath it).

Everyone has a metric that they love to look at, and a reason that they love it. For most, it generally has to do with revenue, since that impacts everyone in the company; but we want to know, do you have a favorite metric, and why?

Data Analysis

Data-driven mistakes even good ecommerce business owners make (and how to avoid them).

Have you struggled with data discrepancies? Had a hard time figuring out what metrics you should actually track? Tried to use a dashboard service and hated it?

If any of those things apply to you, we feel your pain. This video helps to break down some of the most common mistakes that we have run into across the board with multiple ecommerce businesses, and how to avoid and fix them. If you don’t have the time to sit through the video, or don’t have headphones handy, never fear: we have provided a breakdown of the video below.

Mistake #1: Not automating data extraction

  • Most companies have a HUGE issue with this; they have someone assigned to extract data from multiple data aggregates and put it all together in one place.
  • This causes several problems for businesses, the first being the human error side of things; humans make mistakes constantly, and with a task like data aggregation it’s very easy to misplace a decimal point or to switch two numbers around, which may not seem like a huge deal, but if you take action on the insights gleaned from that data it can lead to catastrophe.
  • The second problem is that humans are expensive. Generally the person in charge of this kind of task is a marketer, and their time is much better spent analyzing data rather than aggregating it; marketers find actionable insights from the data, but very rarely do they have the necessary training to clean data and ensure its accuracy.

Mistake #2: Believing that a dashboard is the solution to your data problems

  • Dashboards are excellent tools for data visualization and data aggregation, but they will not solve any issues that you have with the underlying data.
  • The second issue that people often run into with dashboards is actually connecting the data from the various sources to the dashboard. Many of these data visualization companies talk about how easy their technology is to implement, but going back to the first point, you need to understand how to take all of the different data formats and naming conventions and standardize them across the board so that you can actually get actionable data that you can trust.

Mistake #3: Not making your data actionable

  • According to a Google survey 97% of websites collect data from their customers, but less than 30% actually use that data to make decisions in their business.
  • Many companies get so bogged down with metrics and get lost in the weeds of everything that is measured that they lose sight of their actual goals. It is best to narrow the view down to 7 or 8 actionable metrics  to focus on in the near term, i.e. increasing revenue or decreasing costs, and then once you have those under control, you can begin to add new metrics that you want to measure to further optimize the business.
  • The last part of making sure that your data is actionable is making sure that there is someone assigned to each of the core metrics that you decide to measure. That allows the person to focus on that metric, so they know exactly why that metric went up, down, or sideways, and can explain to the team exactly what happened so that you can replicate that behavior again or avoid it in the future.

Mistake #4: Not democratizing data

  • Many organizations have one nerd who analyzes all of the data and then transmits that data to the team, but that nerd doesn’t know what they don’t know. This flows back to the first mistake that many businesses make, by trusting too much in humans who are extremely prone to errors.
  • Everyone has different backgrounds and experience, so when they look at a metric they will see one thing and come up with an action item based off their experience; but if you bring in another set of eyes, that person may see something totally different and come to a different conclusion. Democratizing data and making it accessible to more people will lead to greater insights and more options for ways to proceed.

Mistake #5: Not focusing on the bottom line

  • This is very similar to not making data actionable, but it is very important to cover as well.
  • Determining the right metrics to measure for your business starts with your big goal: driving more revenue. You need to ask yourself, “what are the primary drivers of revenue for my company?”.
  • After you have determined what the primary revenue drivers are for your company, you need to ask the logical questions as to how you can get more from those customers; that may be, “how do I keep them subscribed to my service for longer?” or “How can I increase repeat purchases?” or even “How do I increase the average order size on my site?”.
  • For each of those questions, you can find one metric that will help you to measure the effectiveness of your efforts. By then focusing on that single metric to measure your results, you can experiment to find what works for your customers.

Mistake #6: Worrying about the chicken vs the egg

  • Many business owners think that they don’t need to start truly tracking these key metrics until they already have success to replicate; this could not be further from the truth.
  • Cleaning and tracking data, especially in the early stages, helps you avoid costly mistakes and also helps you expand rapidly. Businesses that track their data early on can outspend and outmaneuver their competition because they know exactly the type of returns to expect from their investment, allowing them to aggressively expand and claim market share.

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