Biggest Dashboard Mistakes (And how to avoid them)

The biggest mistakes when it comes to dashboards and how to avoid them

Why does everyone seem to be pushing dashboards right now?

Dashboards seem like the new “it” thing right now in business. Everyone seems to want them if they don’t already have them. But what are the benefits to having dashboards, and what are the most common drawbacks?

We answer these questions, and more, in our guest appearance on the Less Doing Podcast with Ari Meisel, featured here:

What is the biggest mistake that people make with dashboards?

The biggest mistake that people make with dashboards is making the assumption that visualizing the data through a dashboard will magically give them insights. Dashboards help you visualize your data, which can help you to understand your data better, but it’s not going to help you track something new. Many people see beautiful dashboards and they assume that it must be a good dashboard, but the underlying data is much more important than how it’s displayed.

What most people are looking for is not just a data visualization tool, but a business intelligence tool. A business intelligence tool allows you to pull all of your data together in one place, and allows you to see the relationships between what may seem like disparate metrics and systems. By utilizing a business intelligence tool, you can gain new insights from your data and decide how to take action from those new insights.

A lot of businesses use their dashboards only to display what we call “vanity metrics”. They can easily find these metrics elsewhere, and they don’t necessarily deliver insights. Businesses need to use their dashboards to visualize the relationships between different data. Sometimes, it doesn’t even have to be visualized… We have lots of clients that just want to see their numbers all aggregated together in one place. The most important thing is that you can take action from the data that you see. These systems need to give you new, unique insights into your data, or they have wasted your money.

What is your plan?

Your dashboards need to give you insights. The question that people ask next is “What do I do with those insights?”. You need to have a plan in place so that you know exactly what will happen when something changes, or you realize something new. At Praxis, we don’t build a metric unless there is an action tied to that metric. The visual part of the dashboard doesn’t actually matter that much, what matters is that the person who is in charge of that metric can understand what is happening with that metric, and what needs to happen.

We have had clients come to us asking for metrics, and once we have built it out, the client then asked “What now?”. They had no idea why they needed to track that metric, or what actions they needed to take off it, they had just heard other people talking about it and wanted to be ‘in the know’.

Before you start tracking something, you need to have a plan in place as to what you hope to accomplish with that metric. You need to know exactly who takes responsibility for that metric, and what action steps you will take based off that metric. Once you have a plan in place, you will actually see value delivered from your dashboards and analytics.

What are the core metrics that almost every business should track?

LTV-

Every business NEEDS to know the lifetime value of their customers. But they need to know more than just the LTV, they need to know what impacts it as well. It’s important for every business to break out their LTV as much as possible and make it as granular as possible. Your LTV can vary based off the first product they purchased, what platform referred them to you, and even what ad they clicked on. The aggregate LTV isn’t enough, you need to know the granular specifics of the things that impact it.

By understanding the specifics of what impacts your LTV, you can fine-tune how you interact with your customers and drive that number higher. The goal of this metric is not to know it, but to drive it higher.

ROAS/ROI-

Most businesses know this number, but they also need to know their acquisition cost by channel. This will allow you to see how each channel performs individually and see which channel is worthy of your ad spend.

In order to unlock the full potential of this metric though, you need to overlay your acquisition costs with your cost of goods sold, and customer lifetime value. When you put these metrics side-by-side, that will give you the formula for your allowable acquisition cost. This formula becomes one of the most powerful assets that a business can have if utilized properly. We have had clients grow more than 3000% once they have these numbers figured out.

Month over month/ year over year revenues-

While most businesses track this, few businesses take the time to analyze the effects of seasonality on their customers. Even fewer businesses look at their revenue by source. One of the best things that you can do as a business is figure out which platforms perform the best during different seasonal shifts. Should you spend more on Instagram advertising during the summer, or the winter? These insights can help businesses rapidly scale, and can make the difference between breaking out into success and dying off.

At what point does a business have enough data to start tracking these things?

Everyone thinks that only enterprise-level companies can leverage ‘big data’, or that they haven’t reached a level of sophistication to need that type of granularity; but in today’s marketplace, everyone has ‘big data’. Our phones alone contain unbelievable amounts of data about us, every website tracks a multitude of variables on their visitors. The main difference between an enterprise level company and a start-up is that the enterprise level company recognizes that they need to capitalize on their data in order to succeed, while many start-ups fail to recognize it’s importance.

Small businesses use, on average, 8 different technology platforms. Each of those platforms has their own way of tracking data and keeps a small portion of your data hidden away within their platform. The trick is to get all of those disparate systems to talk to one another, or at very least pass all of that data in to your dashboard so that you can analyze the relationships between them and gain greater insights.

Honestly, the best time to start tracking is as soon as you begin operating as a business. The next best time is right now. Tracking your data properly can transform your business in ways that you would not believe.

No business suffers from a lack of data, generally they just don’t know what data to focus on, and what will actually make a difference for their business.

How can I maximize the net benefit from tracking and dashboards?

The most important lesson that you can gain here is that your output is only as good as your input. The first thing that you can do in order to maximize your results is make sure that you have standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place. Because of the tedious nature of this work, many businesses overlook it or neglect it; but the best businesses don’t.

Many employees drag their feet when it comes to SOPs, they think that it doesn’t add enough value to be worth their time. One of the best ways to help them get past this thinking is to show them what’s possible when they utilize them vs what they lose by not utilizing them properly.

Lots of businesses ask, whether they should start with their tracking and make sure that they have done a good job with their tracking, or if they should start with dashboards and visualization. Either one works. If you start with visualization, that can help you to see exactly where you need to improve your tracking. If you start with tracking, then when you move on to visualization, you can have confidence in your data, knowing that it’s accurate.

What can companies do to prepare themselves to work with dashboards or data analysis?

Every company should know what questions they want answered before they ever start working with dashboards and data analysis. Go beyond buzzwords and jargon and really figure out what questions you have that you need answers to in order to progress your business. So start with your company’s goals, and then ask yourself what you need to know in order to achieve those goals. From there, you can drill down and begin to look at the metrics and numbers that contain the answers to those questions.

Once you know the numbers that you need to be pulling, you need to validate your data and make sure that everything tracks properly. Most companies struggle with their Google Analytics reporting, and their use of UTMs. If you struggle with either of these, we can help. For Google Analytics issues, we have an Analytics audit that will run through your entire Google Analytics account and pinpoint issues for you. You can find more on that service here: https://praxismetrics.com/google-analytics-audit/

If you’re struggling with the use of UTMs, or have no idea what they even are, we can also help. We have a course that will take you from UTM zero to hero in less than a day. You can find more information on that here: https://praxismetrics.com/utm-foundations-course/

Once you have your tracking in order, and you know what questions you’re answering with that tracking, it’s time to organize your objectives by feasibility and value. We like to map the objectives across quadrants: high feasibility, high value; high feasibility, low value; low feasibility, high value; low feasibility, low value. Obviously, we want to work through these from highest feasibility and value to lowest feasibility and value.

How can we better track and prevent customer churn?

The first thing that you want to track with customer churn is by source. You need to know which of your traffic sources produces the lowest value customers (those with the highest churn), so that you can pinpoint the issue. Do you need to better explain your offerings on that platform, do you need better qualifications on clients that come from that source?

We also want to analyze retention rates over time, and by cohort. This allows us to see trends over time that increased or decreased churn rates. This helps tremendously in measuring the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and the actual impact that they have on your overall business.

For subscription based businesses, most of them already track the days to cancellation; but they primarily track the average. The problem is that averages are inherently evil. Averages tell us a line from a story, but we need to know the entire story in order to truly understand. In order to know truly when you need to act, you need to know a lot more than an average. You need to know the days that people are most likely to cancel, so that you can update your nurturing sequences in order to reach those people before they leave.

How can I be more effective?

Collaboration-

Too many people isolate departments, data, and communication in their organizations. By democratizing data and decision-making processes, you can take full advantage of the expertise of all of the unique people on your team. The more eyes that you can have on a problem, the more unique perspectives you can gain, and the more solutions you can come up with.

Tracking-

In order to progress your business, you need to be able to pinpoint what worked and didn’t work. If you’re not tracking everything you do, it’s infinitely harder to replicate success and eliminate waste.

Automation-

Too many people spend too much time doing menial tasks. We’ve seen executives spending all of their time pulling reports and data together, rather than analyzing it for insights. Automation may have a high up-front investment, but it pays massively over time. It saves companies thousands of dollars in man-hours, plus all of the human error that goes into the reporting.

If you find yourself struggling with any of those issues, we can help!

We have a myriad of resources here on the blog, but if you’d like more help with your tracking and getting that set up, visit us here: https://praxismetrics.com/google-analytics-audit/

If you need help with automation or visualization, please visit us here: https://praxismetrics.com/dashboards/ltv-dashboards/

And lastly, if you just want to talk to someone about your needs, drop us a line here: https://praxismetrics.com/talk-to-a-data-expert/

LTV business scaling

What is customer lifetime value, and how does it impact my business?

What does LTV mean, and how does it impact my business?

LTV stands for customer lifetime value, and measuring it can revolutionize your business.

Most businesses determine their ad spend based off their return on investment from said ad spend. Unfortunately though, many people calculate the return on ad spend (ROAS) exclusively based off the initial order value. If you calculate your ROAS exclusively based off initial purchase value, you are most likely missing out on explosive growth, just like our client Danette May. See the video below to hear more about their story:

As you can see from that video, knowing the true lifetime value of their customers made all of the difference for them. They couldn’t scale that funnel reliably without increasing their budget; but they thought that they couldn’t increase the budget on the funnel and still have an allowable ROAS. They had made all of these calculations based off the initial order value though. By widening their scope and tracking the lifetime value of those customers, they realized that they could still get an allowable ROAS even if they increased their budget.

Upon increasing their ad spend, they were able to scale up that funnel tremendously and they went from 15 sales per day to over 200 sales per day in less than a month. Since this video was recorded, they went as high as 600 sales per day and are now averaging about 300 sales per day. That is the power of knowing your true customer lifetime value.

How does LTV impact finance?

While LTV in and of itself can completely change the way that you view customer journey’s and their acquisition costs, the true power of customer LTV comes when you combine it with a few other metrics. Once you know the true value of your customers, the next thing that you need to know is the true cost of goods sold on what you sell. To get the true cost of goods sold for your products, you need to roll in everything, legitimately everything. You need to break down the cost of every employee, all of your overhead, every cost that your business has needs to be tied into this metric.

Once you know the true LTV of your clients, and your true cost of goods sold (COGS), you can now start to look at how much money you make off each client and each product that you sell. You may find that on some funnels you’re not profitable off the initial purchase, but that the clients come back and repurchase multiple times over several months, making that customer profitable overall. From there, the finance team can determine acceptable timetables for profitability. Some businesses have funnels that they know will not turn a profit for several months, but they know that it will be profitable within a certain acceptable time frame for them as well.

Once you know the acceptable profitability time frame, you can begin to work out an acceptable cost per acquisition, which leads us into our next section:

How does LTV impact marketing?

Now that you know the path to profitability and the timeline for it; you can begin to look at how much you can acceptably spend on advertising costs. By studying your cost per acquisition (CPA), you can understand how much ad spend you will need in order to get one person to convert. From there, you can rework this into your established cost of goods sold, and look at your timeline for profitability. We recommend that you find the absolute maximum allowable CPA, and then make sure that you stay underneath that threshold.

The next step in your journey is to get even more granular in how you measure your customer lifetime value. Since your allowable acquisition cost is based off the lifetime value of your clients, it makes sense to break out the lifetime value based off where they came from as well.

In this next video, we show you exactly what that looks like.

As shown in the video, clients who come from different referral sources behave differently. They may be interested in different things based off the type of content that drove them to your site. This will affect the items that they buy, and in turn, their lifetime value as your customer. You can also take this analysis even further by segmenting your customer LTV based off the initial item that they purchased.

How can I start tracking the LTV of my customers?

The hardest part of finding the true LTV of your customers is extracting all of the data from all of the disparate systems. The average small business uses at least nine different systems to track different things, though many have more than that. In order to get a clear picture on the true LTV of all of your customers, you need to gather all of that data. This is a tedious, difficult process known as ETL (Extract, Transform, Load).

The first step of ETL is data extraction. It takes a lot of time to extract data from all of the disparate systems, but it’s rather simple to do. From there, you need to make sure that all of the data meshes together properly. This leads us into the transformation stage.

Transforming data requires a lot of time and mental energy to complete. Each system tracks things differently, so you have to go through and realign the data to make sure that it matches properly between the different tracking systems.

The last stage is the simplest stage and, generally speaking, the one that everyone jumps to. The load stage consists of taking your new, clean data and loading it into a visualization tool so that you can see all of the information that you have gathered in one place.

Many people jump straight to the load phase and get a data visualization tool without having the previous two steps, and that leaves them with a pretty dashboard that doesn’t tell them anything new. The process of ETL is VITAL for you to find your true LTV and of paramount importance for you to propel your business forward.

If you need help with this, we have helped countless businesses go through this process. Simply fill out this form, and we can talk about the unique needs of your business and how we can help you turn your data into growth: https://praxismetrics.com/talk-to-a-data-expert/

The importance of knowing the lifetime value of your customers

Data-Driven Conversations: The Importance of Knowing The Lifetime Value of Your Customers

What is the lifetime value of a customer? How does that affect the way that you market your products and scale your business?

These are some of the questions that we had in mind when we went into our conversation with Jeremy Reeves on the Data Rich Podcast. Below is the video of the entire conversation, as well as a transcript of the highlights:

What does it mean to be data driven as it relates to customer LTV?

Being data driven boils down to being aware of the choices that you are making, and making the right choices by utilizing data.

An example of this would be if you are looking to roll out a new product, you need to know exactly how much you can spend to acquire a new customer. If you don’t have data to tell you that information, you are essentially guessing, and that can cause you to be limiting yourself in terms of growth if you’re not paying enough for new customers, or it can be driving you out of business if you’re spending too much to acquire those customers.

If you don’t know the metrics, you don’t know what decisions to make.

How soon in a business should you worry about LTV?

This varies from business to business, but comes down to how quickly you want to scale your business. If you are looking for explosive growth, then LTV is THE metric that you need to worry about. This will help you determine the cost per acquisition that you are willing to pay. In the example above, they realized that if they set their break-even point per customer at 3 months rather than immediate, they were able to pay 30% more per acquisition, which allowed them to jump from making 15 sales per day to making 300-400 sales per day.

By drilling into the numbers and truly understanding the value of their customers over time, their sales were able to increase by 2500%! When you view the true value of a customer over time, you can make decisions like this that help you to experience explosive growth as a company.

How do you maximize returns based off customer LTV?

The best way to maximize your returns is to get extremely granular with your data. Go beyond just looking at the generic LTV of all customers, and see the LTV of customers based off of their referral source, or check to see what other products they purchase after the initial purchase. The more that you can break down the data and individualize your targeting, the more you can glean insights into your consumers, and in turn maximize your returns.

What is the best way to track LTV?

This is the question that you really need to answer for your business. You need to determine how you want to define and track the value of your customers over time. This will be contingent on the systems that you are using, the types of products that you sell, and how you want to think about your products.

Going back to the previous point about getting as granular as possible, you can break down the LTV of your clients based off what their initial purchase was, by referrer,

When should you make changes to your budget based off the LTV calculation?

Unfortunately, just like the last question, this depends on your business. If your company has a long buying cycle, you should probably wait to increase your budget until you see the results from your efforts. If you are able to make back your budget based off the initial purchase, you can increase your budget immediately. By understanding when people are able to hit that break-even point in your business, you can know exactly when you should increase your spend.

How can I set up tracking to make sure that I am getting good data?

You need to make sure that your attributions are set up properly in Google Analytics, so that you can break out customer behavior by traffic source in order to see exactly what your spend should be for each source. Past that, it is highly recommended that you break them out into funnels or campaigns that you are using so that you can properly attribute the LTV to each of the campaigns that you run, as well as the sources.

This requires a great deal of work up front, but once you lay the foundation of good data it is much easier to continue down that path, and you know that you can trust your data.

What is the number one thing that all marketers should know about the LTV of their customers?

The obvious first thing that you need is to know the number. If you are not conscious of the LTV of your customers, you need to find out what that is. After you are aware of the average LTV across the company, you need to get more granular with it, and drill down into the LTV per product.

Once you have those numbers, you need to determine your business goals. If you are in a growth stage of your business, where you are trying to scale, don’t be afraid to break even up front. Be aware of how long it will take for you to start profiting, and make sure that you are comfortable with waiting for that; but once you have determined that, you need to move forward. The business that can afford to spend the most to acquire the customer wins every time.

If you have any questions about dashboards, tracking, analytics, or if you want custom dashboards built for your business then talk to one of our data experts.

The 5 Devastating Data-Driven Mistakes You May Be Making Right Now

The 5 Devastating Data-Driven Mistakes You May Be Making Right Now

Let me ask you a question. How important is data and reporting to your company? It’s interesting when I ask people this question, which I do almost every day. It varies from “not using data that much” to “we’re data driven masters who implement data discovery into almost every decision we make.”