Using data to drive business growth

Using data to drive business growth

AJ and Meaghan recently had the opportunity to have a chat with Bernard Kelvin Clive of the BKC podcast.

It was a great opportunity to get a multi-cultural perspective on business growth and development. Check out the full interview below:

Data is the fuel for business success

In today’s marketplace, every business works in the data business. No matter what business or industry you fall into, data is vital to your success. While many people still think about data in terms of “big data”, every business can capitalize on the data they have.

While almost everyone understands that data has value, few businesses know what data they need to leverage to scale.

When we talk about data, the key point to remember is that data doesn’t involve crazy math or calculations. Data is just information. Eventually, once you have enough information, you can begin to recognize patterns in the data, and predict the future.

Every business has the power to access “big data” at this point. Most programs that businesses use to run their operations contain data on the back end. This includes things like: when your clients buy, how much they buy, what they buy, and so much more. Just having that small amount of information can help you understand your customer journey’s better. Once you understand their journey, you can better market your products and services.

No matter the stage of your business, you can be doing things with data

At Praxis, we often talk about the data maturity spectrum. No matter where your business falls on that spectrum, there are things that you can and should be doing to make sure that you can get the most out of your data.

If you’re at the beginning of your business, this could be pre-revenue or just starting out, the best thing that you can do is start collecting data. Lots of businesses in the start up realm still have CRMs, POS systems, websites, etc. Each of these systems can be a treasure trove of data if you set it up to track data. Most small businesses though don’t take the time to make sure that they have everything set up to track properly.

You can’t create data from scratch

The reason that it’s so important to set these things up early on in your business is because you can’t go back in time and create historical data. So if you find yourself ready to start analyzing data three years from now, and you haven’t set your systems up to track your customers properly, then you have to start completely from scratch.

You can’t make data-driven decisions without data, and you can’t get data without taking the time to set up your tracking.

More is better when it comes to tracking

Even if you don’t have the time to analyze your data, it’s very important that you start tracking it now. The more that you can track, the better. While you may not use all of it in the future, it’s much better to have too much data than too little data.

Whoever has the greatest understanding of their customers will win in the end.

Several of the biggest companies in the world are strictly data companies, and part of the reason that they got so big is because they collected data to better understand their customers.

Data helps you better understand your customers needs and wants; this allows you to better target and attract the right customers, as well as retain your current customers.

As a business owner, data analysis isn’t your responsibility

Your job as the business owner is to make sure that you have properly invested the time and resources into gathering the data. If you’ve done that, you can have specialists analyze the data for what they need. Your marketing team can scour the data for better customer insights, your project management team can find bottlenecks in your processes, etc.

In order to make sure that you track the right things, you need to know what metrics matter. Too many businesses track everything and then get caught in paralysis by analysis. They end up spending time worrying about metrics and numbers that will only make a small difference, if any.

The key to analyzing your data is making sure that you look at the metrics that will yield results for your business.

The best way to find these “needle moving” metrics is to figure out what business questions you need answers to. Generally, you can narrow down the metrics that you need to keep an eye on down to 5-10 metrics. We recommend “leading with revenue”, which means that you should focus on marketing and sales first.

Wrapping up the foundation level

To summarize the foundation level of data maturity, track everything, but don’t feel like you need to analyze everything that you collect. That is reserved for stage 2.

Stage 2: Analysis

Once your business has matured to the point where you want to start leveraging your data, you’ve reached stage 2.

You don’t necessarily need to analyze the data yourself. You can have your team analyze it, agencies that you work with, or you can do it yourself if you’re data inclined.

One way to start analyzing your data is to figure out the business questions that you want to answer.

The number one question we recommend that every business owner ask is “where do my best customers come from?”. Every business should have a clear answer to this question. You should know what marketing efforts create customers that come into your business and stay with your business.

Another way to analyze your data is to just start looking, and then see what questions arise as you look at the data.

Sometimes, by digging into the data, you can spot anomalies or outliers that spark your curiosity.

Many business owners think that they don’t have the time to analyze their data, and that’s why it’s important to set aside time to do it. Make data analysis a priority and chunk out time to at least poke around in the data. You can spend that time looking for answers to questions, or looking for anomalies. Either way, it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of your business.

Most businesses are just one data-driven decision away from exponential growth

As we said in the last section, it’s very important to at least wade into your data once a week. Additionally though, it’s important that you schedule time to deep dive into your data, at least once a year.

AJ and Meaghan realized during one of these deep-dive sessions the key to exponentially growing their business. They realized that they wrote off hours like crazy in order to keep their clients happy. They over-delivered on their promises to make sure that they had raving fans.

This yielded them happy clients, but when they looked at their numbers, they realized that it had cost them $500,000 across the course of a year. This one thing was preventing them from scaling their business properly.

They decided to start scaling back the amount that they would write off with each client. They decreased how much they would write off each month by just 25%. This caused them to increase their revenues by 350% year-over-year, and their profit margin skyrocketed up by 1,000%! This allowed them to scale their team up to 10X the size that it was.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Until you analyze your data though, it’s hard to know what you need to change.

A positive data-driven decision

We had a client who came to Praxis looking to get better information on the lifetime value of their customers (LTV). They thought that they had an accurate idea of what it was, but wanted to double check to make sure that it was accurate. Together, we discovered that the lifetime value of their customers was much higher than they initially thought. Upon realizing this, they decided to increase their allowable cost per acquisition by just $5. This decision caused the funnel to go from about 12 sales per day to 350 sales per day in just 2 weeks.

From there, the funnel kept expanding, and within a month, they started to average 600 sales per day on this funnel… All from one data-driven decision.

A negative data-driven decision

We had another client who thought that they knew their LTV, but once we got into their data, we discovered that they had overestimated their LTV. Because of this, the company found out that they were actually losing about $3 per customer that they brought in. And they were doing a lot of sales…

Because they sought Praxis help though, they managed to stop the bleed and update their spend to reflect their reality.

The data will tell you what to cut and what to double-down on.

What is the next step, where should businesses go from here?

The answer to that question depends on where you fall on the data maturity spectrum. If you are stuck in phase one, you need to get your tracking set up. If you’re stuck in phase two, you need to determine if you need help understanding the data and taking action from it.

The best thing that everyone can do right now is run an audit of your systems and see where you stand in your business. Diagnose where you fall on the data maturity spectrum, and from there you can see what next steps you need to take.

Another huge thing that helps all companies regardless of size, is to aggregate your data in one place. Some people call this phase “spreadsheet hell”, because it generally requires a lot of spreadsheets. If you want to avoid spreadsheet hell, we recommend leveraging a business intelligence (BI) tool. BI tools are much more expensive than just using spreadsheets, but they also allow you to perform much more complex analysis and leverage the data in new ways.

Tools won’t solve your problems

It’s important to remember that even if you buy a BI tool, it’s not going to solve your data problems. You still need to have your tracking in place, and you still need someone to analyze the data. Additionally, you need to have plans in place to take action on the data. If you see a dip in your data, you should have a plan in place as to how you want to deal with it.

Every company needs to start thinking about their data as one of their most valuable resources.

Data just surpassed oil as the most valuable commodity on the planet. Information is king. If you know more than your competitor does, then you have an opportunity to outmaneuver and outperform them at every turn.

Caesar’s Palace recently went bankrupt. On their balance sheet, they listed out their data as the most valuable asset that they had.

Every interaction with your clients is an opportunity to learn something new. If you’re properly tracking everything, then you can gain insights and scale your business infinitely faster than by going off gut instinct.

The fastest way to scale your business is to figure out what is already working, and double down on it.

What can people do to better use data in the world of branding?

Start tracking creatively. Tracking doesn’t have to just be about how many people came to the website, or how many people clicked a button. You can track anything that you can imagine. We had a client come through who used Instagram as their primary lead source. They went through all of their posts and tracked what colors they used in the post, how they framed the image, the location, everything. They then overlaid this data with their like, share, and comment data to find optimal posts.

Because they had this data, they knew exactly what their customers wanted to see from them and when. This allowed them to double down on the things that worked for them and cut out the waste.

How Meaghan and AJ became a power couple

How Meaghan and AJ became a “power couple”

In this podcast episode, we decided to cover some less common topics.

We cover deep dives into entrepreneurship, how to manage a business and a relationship, and much more.

How did AJ and Meaghan get here?

AJ’s story-

AJ started out as an entrepreneur early in life. He started a “company” called “AJ’s odd jobs” as a child, offering to do household chores for his neighbors. From there, he graduated to selling his family’s agricultural produce door-to-door. Finally, he moved into the technology sphere, building and selling computers; from there, he started a magazine, and then moved on to selling supplements online. While selling supplements, he found that he loved doing data-driven marketing, so he decided to create his own marketing agency.

Meaghan’s story-

Meaghan took a different path. Growing up in a large household with a single mom, the focus was always on finding a job and making it to management. As a way of paying for college, Meaghan sold encyclopedias door-to-door. This exposed her to the idea of being her own boss and “running her own business” while still having the support of an organization behind her. Because of her success in sales, she pivoted into a sales-coaching and consulting role.

Upon meeting AJ, she decided that she wanted to learn more about marketing. At the time, AJ’s business focused on building out funnels for clients. She decided to shadow them to understand what they did for one client from start to finish. She watched them build the landing pages and sales pages, and then watched AJ send out the email campaign.

Once she saw the success that they generated with little effort, she realized that she needed to jump from sales to marketing.

They started working together in the marketing agency together, and found that one of their biggest frustrations was getting data for and to their clients. This frustration eventually led them to the creation of Praxis Metrics. In finding a solution for their reporting, they found that all of their clients wanted to implement that solution for themselves. Eventually, that grew into Praxis Metrics.

How did Meaghan and AJ meet?

They met through a series of mutual friends who thought that they would be perfect together. They say that the universe was trying to get them together for a long time, but they had a hard time with the timing.

Once the timing was right though, they moved quickly, dating for only a few months before moving in together. Then they started running a business together a few months after that.

How do Meaghan and AJ get along so well?

Because they own a data-driven business, they of course are data-driven in their lives. They take personality tests to understand what roles and responsibilities each of them fit into well; they study each other’s love languages to know how to help the other person. And then finally, they took brain scans to understand how their minds work.

Brain scans-

They primarily used the brain scans to better understand how their brains handle stress and stressful situations. They hook you up to the machine, with nodes across your entire head, and then put you through stages of stress and then recovery. By repeating this exercise, they gained a greater understanding of how each of them deals with stress psychologically.

Through these tests, they grew to better understand one another’s needs and why they behave the way that they do.

What advice would Meaghan and AJ give to other “power couples” or business partners?

Clearly delineate roles and responsibilities. This allows you “divide and conquer”. The best way to do this would be to map out each other’s strengths and then assign tasks that align with those strengths. This allows each of you to focus on your “superpower” and achieve individually as well as together.

The other piece of advice would be to communicate. Communication needs to be clear, and concise; and then you need to allow vulnerability in that communication. AJ and Meaghan like to do “check-ins” with one another to really check to see how they’re progressing in their roles as business and relationship partners.

How do AJ and Meaghan break up their professional and personal lives?

At the moment, they don’t really. Since the business is going through a phase of rapid expansion, they are on call all of the time. But they also recognize the importance of decompressing. They recognize when they approach their breaking points, and make sure that they don’t cross that line.

They make sure that when they do take time for themselves, they put away all things related to work and focus on being truly present in the moment.

Even in their professional lives, they work together to make sure that they align and don’t get too wrapped up in one thing or another. Because they have such open communication, they can tell one another when they need to take a break or realign.

Travel-

They also use travel to force themselves to realign and get more into the moment. AJ and Meaghan built Praxis Metrics to allow all of the employees to travel and escape from the routines of office work. They encourage all of their employees to take trips and take advantage of the opportunities that come with working remotely.

Meaghan specifically uses travel to help her remember why they built this business and what their long-term goals are, as she can often get lost in the details. But by traveling, she can create opportunity costs for herself, which forces her to choose what she finds truly important.

Because they have this opportunity cost, it forces them to delegate more, and utilize their time as profitably as possible.

How Meaghan and AJ use NLP to help them focus

By learning NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), AJ and Meaghan worked to understand how their communication styles would differ based off their brain types. Since Meaghan is naturally “chunked down” or in the weeds, it becomes difficult for her to communicate with someone like AJ who naturally “chunks up”. Because they both know about these issues, they developed keywords and phrases to help them better communicate and relate to one another.

What “Bio-hacking” secrets would they recommend?

Meaghan and AJ use biohacking to better understand their bodies, and therefore increase their effectiveness. Because our DNA and our genes are the building blocks of who we are, it’s important to start there. They went to genetic coaches who read their genetic profiles and gave them actionable information on how to maximize the effectiveness of their bodies.

After understanding your genetic code, the next thing that they recommend is to get blood-work done. Generic doctors most likely won’t look at your blood-work to the depth that you need if you truly want to “biohack”.

The point of all of this is to increase the amount of data that you have on your body. The more data that you have, the more of a complete picture you can put together of how to optimize your body. Once you have this data, you can begin to change your lifestyle to better fit your needs.

How to truly get ahead in business and health:

Data will never solve problems; it’s just individualized facts. Data becomes valuable when you get enough of it to create information. Once the information forms a pattern, it can lead to knowledge. By leveraging knowledge, you can predict outcomes, which is wisdom. From there, you can take action on your predictions, which is the definition of Praxis.

What is Praxis Metrics, and what do they do?

Praxis helps businesses transform their data into actionable insights.

Just like the process that we just outlined, Praxis helps businesses take disparate data points, merge them into information, transform that information into recognizable patterns, and then make predictive models based off that.

By gathering all of your data and information together, you can see patterns across seemingly disconnected pieces of data and information, and then leverage that into action, or Praxis.

Big data used to be reserved for the enterprise-level companies, but now almost all businesses have an overload of information available to them. The problem now is deciphering the data and finding the valuable insights.

Praxis Metrics extracts the raw data from the back end of each of the systems in order to guarantee accuracy, and then they merge the data together to help our customers understand how to best take advantage of that information.

The goal of the entire process is to help business owners easily discover hidden areas of opportunities; as well as areas of waste.

Finding these things helps businesses achieve explosive growth. By eliminating the waste, and reallocating it to areas of opportunity, businesses can scale much faster than they thought possible.

Praxis Metrics primarily deals with waste. Praxis’ goal is to help eliminate wasted time, energy, and money. Once you eliminate the waste, your optimization efforts are exponentially more effective.

Praxis Metrics success stories

Praxis had one client that was spending an incredible amount on cold media. They thought came to Praxis asking for the lifetime value of their customers (LTV). Upon drilling into their data though, we helped them realize that they hadn’t taken into account all of their costs, and this meant that they were losing money on every customer that purchased.

Another client thought that they could only afford to spend $15 to acquire their customers. They came to Praxis and we helped them realize that the lifetime value of their customers was much higher than they thought. Based off that information, they increased their CPA by just $5 and saw explosive growth. That funnel ended up increasing in sales by more than 2,000 in a month. Because of this success, they hired a full-time data scientist to their team, and build their own dashboards. One data-driven decision revolutionized their company.

What does working with Praxis look like?

Every project with Praxis starts with assessing the data maturity of the clients. For those in the early stages of data maturity, they most likely need help gathering data. Unfortunately, all of the pretty and cool dashboards in the world do nothing without data.

If the client already has data, generally they have a ton of spreadsheets that they’re working from, and need help with automation. In this stage, we focus on data validation, extraction, and loading it into dashboards. Most of our clients fall into this stage.

The way that Praxis Metrics helps these companies generally is through our pre-built dashboards. As Praxis Metrics grew and worked with several large clients, we found that most businesses have similar needs. The questions that our enterprise clients asked us were the same that SMBs did. What’s working, what’s not, how can I improve, etc. Once we realized this, we began to pre-package dashboards that were built to answer these questions specifically.

This pre-packaging allowed Praxis to greatly reduce the costs of building these dashboards. This opened the doors to smaller clients who previously couldn’t afford these type of insights.

What makes Praxis different from other dashboard companies?

Most dashboard companies only offer the dashboarding software. They have built powerful tools, but once you purchase them, you’re on your own. Praxis Metrics doesn’t have software tools, we act as an outsourced data agency that will help you harness the power of your BI dashboards. We have a team of on-demand data scientists and dashboard engineers available to help you complete your projects; but once they’re built, you don’t have to worry about them anymore.

Most companies can’t afford to keep a data scientist on staff, so we make it so that they can rent one as they need them.

What are the most important metrics that most businesses overlook?

There are a handful of metrics that most companies overlook, and they all interact.

Number one is the customer acquisition cost (CAC), specifically broken down by source.

Number two is the lifetime value of customers (LTV), also broken down by source. This one is particularly difficult for most ecommerce companies, as most are omni-channel, and that makes the reporting more difficult.

Number three is days to cancellation, viewed as a cohort analysis, not an average. Averages are inherently evil because they smash together all of the highs and the lows in order to give you one number. The cohort analysis allows you to see a bell-curve of the data, allowing you to better understand the spikes and valleys of your subscriptions, rather than one static number.

Number four would be the cost of goods sold (COGS). Many businesses struggle to get the true costs of each of their products because of bulk shipping or bulk ordering systems. Excel has a hard time breaking things down to that granular of a level, but a robust business intelligence tool can perform those complex calculations and give you the true cost of each of your products on a daily basis.

What are weird things that AJ and Meaghan eat and drink?

Meaghan-

Pickle juice. Because she never drinks enough water, she uses pickle juice to boost the cellular water absorption so that the little water that she drinks actually gets where it needs to go.

How do Meaghan and AJ enter a state of flow?

AJ-

Hypnosis. They have an app that they use that helps them to focus in and reach their subconscious and tap into the state of flow.

Meaghan-

Wake surfing. Meaghan uses the outdoors and solo sports to help her reach her state of flow.

What habit or opinion do they have that other people disagree with?

AJ-

AJ believes that people are the most important resource on the planet. Many people believe that money or time are the most important things, but AJ believes that people are the most important.

Meaghan-

Meaghan believes that she is the most important resource on the planet…

If AJ and Meaghan ran a school, but could only teach one, non-traditional lesson, what would it be?

AJ-

AJ would teach people the basics of understanding their bodies and how to think about things rather than what to think.

Meaghan-

Meaghan would teach about the theory of how to make time travel possible.

What books had the greatest impact on them?

AJ-

“I dare you”, by William Danforth when he was younger.

And now, it would be “The one thing”, by Jay Papasan and Gary Keller.

Meaghan-

Meaghan also chose “The one thing”, by Jay Papasan and Gary Keller. That helped her to realize how much of a procrastinator she was as well as how unproductive she was. And then it helped her break out of those habits.

Meaghan’s second choice was “The power of now”, by Eckhart Tolle. This helped her to become much more present in the moment.

Both-

“Letting go”, by David Hawkins. This helped them understand the different vibrational frequencies that we resonate at, and helped them to find better motivation and emotional stability.

What do the first 30 minutes of their days look like?

AJ-

Gratitude, showering (cold), and then mediation.

Meaghan-

Just jumps right into work. She starts looking at emails in bed, and then looks at her calendar to see when she can squeeze those things in.

Since her mornings are the most productive time for her, she wants to get the most important things done quickly, and then deal with tedious, less important work later in the day.

What advice would they give to their previous bosses?

AJ-

AJ never really had a boss, but he would recommend understanding and learning their employees very well. Not just personalities, but what gets them excited and motivated.

Meaghan-

Meaghan would start by saying that she was sorry, because she never truly lived up to her potential working for someone else. And then thank them for the opportunities that they gave her. Finally, she would recommend that they invest in the tools necessary to help their employees and people reach their fullest potential.

Where do they go and what do they do to get inspired?

AJ-

Meaghan is his daily inspiration. Then comes nature, and their trips. Those all get him inspired and excited.

Meaghan-

Numbers inspire Meaghan and get her excited. Nature also inspires her.

If they had 24 hours to make an extra $5,000 how would they do it?

Meaghan-

Meaghan said that if this were a little while ago, she would have invested it in Crypto-currency.

AJ-

AJ would borrow their friend, Mike’s boat and take people out on the lake and teach them to wake-surf. Meaghan is an excellent wake-surfing instructor and AJ is a skilled driver. They have a 100% success rate in getting people up between the two of them.

They would combine the fun of the boat with NLP coaching, and business coaching; and that would allow them to quickly raise that money.

What’s the best advice ever given to them?

Meaghan-

The best “advice” that Meaghan ever got was from a mentor who told her that she had no integrity. They pointed out that integrity means doing what you say you will do, even if nobody holds you accountable.

He told her to examine her checkbook and her calendar to see what she actually valued, as what you spend your time and money on truly shows your values. Upon examining hers, she realized that she wasn’t being honest with herself about what her priorities were, and worked to bring what she said her priorities were into alignment with her true priorities.

The advice that he actually gave her was that at any point, your time and your money need to be in alignment with what you claim your goals are.

AJ-

AJ’s grandfather taught and showed by his example that you should always leave people better than when you met them. No matter who they are, they should always be better because they met you.

What silly thing should people do more of?

AJ-

Laugh at themselves, and dance however you want. AJ apparently makes good practice of this every day, gyrating in a “bizarre” way at Meaghan.

Meaghan-

Definitely dance, and allow yourself to release and just let the music flow through you.

Would they rather fight one horse-sized duck, or 100 duck sized horses?

AJ-

One large duck. Because he wants to conquer it and then befriend and ride it.

Meaghan-

Thought AJ was completely wrong. She wants to be able to lord over the tiny horses and crush them as their god.

How would they go about convincing someone to do something good that they didn’t want to do?

Both-

Chunk up! Tie the thing that they don’t want to do to something higher and help them to see that this really is the best thing for them.

If you can find a higher purpose that you both agree on and then help them to see how this task ties into that higher purpose, then they will most likely perform the task.

Apart from eachother, what makes Meaghan and AJ happiest?

Meaghan-

New adventures. There are chemical changes that occur in the brain when you experience something new, and Meaghan has trained her brain to crave those chemicals, so that makes her very happy.

AJ-

Having new experiences with people. AJ derives a lot of value from people, so it’s important for him to be around others and experience new things with them.

What can people do?

AJ-

Reach out to Praxis Metrics! Our primary vision and purpose is to help other businesses grow and realize their potential through data; so if you have data questions or concerns, reach out and we’ll do our best to help.

Meaghan-

Make sure that you have your tracking set up. Once you have the tracking in order, everything else can fall into place later, but you can’t make up data that doesn’t exist.

Praxis Metrics- How to set yourself apart with data

How to use your data to set yourself apart

In today’s market, businesses are a dime a dozen. Virtually anyone can start a business from a laptop in a coffee shop. The question is, how do you break through that noise, get in front of your customers and get them to purchase from you?

We’ll cover those questions and more in this podcast episode from the A-Game Advantage.

Don’t work in your business; instead, work on your business

As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in all of the things that you need to do. Everyone has a to-do list that could last a lifetime. The problem is that entrepreneurs often get too caught up in their to-do lists.

We often hear from business owners that “someone needs to do it”, so they do it themselves. They often get stuck in the mindset of when they started the business; if they didn’t do it, no one would.

While it’s extremely important to continue to hustle and set an example of hard work, you need to make sure that your time is being utilized effectively. Too many small business leaders don’t make time to leverage their superpowers for the business.

This was the exact problem that our friend AJ Vaden struggled with in her business. She used to spend hours working with her accountant to figure out the commissions for her employees, contractors and affiliates every month.

She knew that she wasn’t properly utilizing her time by looking through reports, exporting information into spreadsheets, and analyzing it; but she felt like if she didn’t, no one would. Every hour she spent on manual reports took her away from her true value in the business, and carried a HUGE opportunity cost.

Unfortunately, many owners, marketers, and managers feel this same way. They force themselves to do redundant tasks like report generation because they NEED the insights from the reports they create. Valuable information lies cross-platform, so they build manual excel sheets in order to pull fragmented pieces of information together so that they can make better business decisions.

How do you escape the cycle?

There are two simple options when it comes to making the switch from working in your business to on your business: automate or delegate.

Both of those options have their pros and cons. Automation tends to cost more in up-front investment, but pays off handsomely over time. Delegation has a lower introductory cost, and can help you find new talent for your business; but you’re still relying on humans to do the work. Humans tend to cost more than machines over time, and they make more errors. So, by now you may be wondering what our friend AJ decided to do.

She decided that in order to scale, they needed to automate out their reporting. She decided that she wanted a long-term solution that would scale with her business. So, we helped them create custom dashboards that automatically calculated commissions, and took care of specific, one-off scenarios that used to take hours to figure out. They went from 10 hours down to one hour of manual work per month; saving them tens of thousands per month in costs.

You can read more about the solution that we built, and how it impacted their business here: https://praxismetrics.com/success-stories/brand-builders-group/

Don’t discount your data

Big businesses would like for SMBs to believe that somehow they have more knowledge and information than them. While large companies may have more historical data, SMBs now have access to treasure troves of information. Between tags, pixels, and cookies, you can get an unbelievable amount of data on how your customers interact with your brand.

There are several reasons that businesses may struggle with their data:

1- They’re overwhelmed

As we talked about earlier, there is a ton of data out there. It’s hard to determine what is useful information and what is just noise.

If you struggle with this, don’t worry, that’s a common issue to have. We have helped hundreds of companies through this issue with a process called “Metrics Mapping”. Metrics Mapping helps you find the metrics that you need to measure and cut out the vanity metrics.

The process for Metrics Mapping is very simple. Start with your high-level business objectives and goals. From there, determine what questions you need answered in order to hit that goal. In the example below, we want to double our revenue over the next year. We then need to ask, “How do we increase conversions off the site?”.

From there, we need to look for the metrics that will answer this question for us. We decided that the most important numbers for website conversions were conversion rates, customer lifetime value, acquisition costs, and profitability.

Praxis Metrics- Metrics Mapping

By simplifying the metrics that you need to measure down to the bare essentials, you can eliminate a lot of the confusion and fear that accompanies dealing with data analysis.

2- Fear of what the data will tell you

Another thing that can help reduce the stress of dealing with data is viewing it as a story. All data tells a story, but sometimes we don’t want to hear that story. If you never look at your numbers, it’s very easy to deceive yourself into thinking that things are one way, when they’re really very different.

It’s important to be able to step back, remove emotion from the equation, and analyze your data with fresh eyes.

Those who ask the important questions, such as what’s working and what’s not working, are the ones who are able to set themselves apart from the competition.

If you’re not looking at your data, your competitors are

What drove Blockbuster and Barnes and Nobles out of business? Failure to adapt to a changing landscape. Right now the landscape is shifting beneath our feet. Data just surpassed oil as the most valuable commodity in the world, and several high-level acquisitions for data companies have been announced by Google and Salesforce, totaling $18.3 billion dollars.

Your data is extremely valuable, whether or not you choose to use it. Some businesses get lucky and manage to grow their business without leveraging their data; but that’s generally because they have a great product or service and just stumble into success. They succeed in spite of themselves. If they actually leveraged their data, they could be at the top of their respective markets.

The 80/20 rule

80% of your results are driven by 20% of your efforts. Your data can tell you which 20% is driving the results, allowing you to double down on the things that create real value for your business, rather than chasing vanity metrics that do nothing for your business. Businesses that capitalize on this can double or quadruple the results that they see, not because they increase their efforts, and not because the increase their budget; but because they increase their understanding and knowledge.

This divide between the data-driven and the non-data-driven is separating the market drastically. Those capitalizing on their data are quickly becoming the 20% collecting 80% of the revenue.

How to begin taking advantage of  your data

Your output is only as good as your input.

Everything starts with your tracking. If you don’t have accurate tracking in order, then you can’t make good decisions off of your data. The most important place to start is with your revenue metrics. We recommend that companies get their tracking in order for marketing and sales so that they can see an accurate picture of the financial health of their company.

The question you need to be able to answer is “What are you doing in your business right now that is working?”. So you need to start tracking where your conversions come from. Do you convert referrals better than direct traffic, Google ads better than Facebook ads, email better than social?

For most companies, this information is already being collected for you by various software tools. The trick is finding where it’s tracking, making sure that it’s accurate, and then analyzing it for insights.

The mistake that most small businesses make is ignoring their tracking. They either think that they’re too small to worry about it, or they think that it’ll be ok if they just implement it later. The problem with this is that when you finally get to the point where you want to utilize the data, you won’t have any data.

Tracking is the foundation for data.

Even if you’re not ready for “big data”, or even to analyze it, it’s important that you start to track your data. Even if you’re not using it now, a few years down the line, you’ll be very grateful that you gathered that data so that you can glean important insights from it.

What tools should you use?

On the marketing side, you need to have Google Analytics set up on your site. Google Analytics provides answers to some of the most important tracking questions that you can have. The only downside to this tool is that it’s notoriously difficult to set up properly, and it can be difficult to find the data that you’re looking for if you’ve never used it before.

We recommend having an expert help you install and set up your Google Analytics. We offer that service if you are interested.

In addition to Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager is a free tool that will help you manage all of the other tracking codes that you want to apply to your website. From Facebook pixels to LinkedIn advertising, every platform has their own proprietary tracking, and all of that can get messy on the back end of your website. Google Tag manager helps to keep the code that you have to install on your site minimal, and keeps your tracking organized.

On the sales side, you need to have a CRM set up that allows you to track your sales, clients, how they found you, and your sales cycles.

What changes when a business starts really tracking their data?

Growth

When a business starts focusing on their data, they speed up their time to value and their scalability. If there are two businesses that sell the same products, the one that understands what does and doesn’t work for their business will be able to eliminate waste from their organization much faster, and therefore bring in higher returns from every investment that they make.

We have seen companies that were planning to reach $50 million in revenue in 5 years scale that number down to 12 months because they started to double down on the things that work and eliminating the things that didn’t. By understanding their customers and what resonates with them, they were able to rapidly scale their business simply by doubling down on the things that are already yielding results.

We had one client who wanted to know one specific question: what was the lifetime value of their customers. They came to us for help with this question, and we helped them discover that they had greatly underestimated the value of their customers over time. So they decided to increase their allowable cost per acquisition by just $5. This decision helped them increase the number of sales from 15 sales per day to over 300 in less than a month. From there, their numbers kept rising, and now that one funnel brings in more than a million dollars per year in revenue.

Praxis Metrics- Danette May LTV Revenue

This client was able to see that level of transformation off of just one metric, and one simple question.

Relief

So many entrepreneurs come to us at their wits end. They push themselves to the brink trying to grow and scale their business; but once they understand the things that they don’t work, they’re able to stop worrying about that and stop dedicating time to it. This allows them to focus in on the things that provide value to their business, and it rapidly simplifies their lives.

One of the primary goals of this process is eliminating waste. Eliminate the 80% of things that eat up your time and energy, and focus in on the 20% of things that are providing real value to your organization. Doing this helps you reclaim your time, and allows you to increase the value of your output dramatically.

How to use data to stand out to investors

We work with a lot of VC firms who talk about how helpful this data is when analyzing their companies. The data helps them understand the story of the company. Having data helps these investment firms understand the true potential of these companies, and helps them apply the 80/20 rule in the businesses that they invest in. They can focus on the 20% of their companies that produce the highest results for them, and then stop investing in the 80% that underperform.

Having all of your data in order also helps when trying to pitch investors. Many investment firms have teams that they use in order to validate your data, but if you can show them exactly where the data comes from and how it’s validated already, it will put you head and shoulders above your competition.

How to use data to help you in your daily life

Health and fitness are an easy way to start leveraging data in your life. There are an infinite number of metrics that you can use to measure your health: from weight to pant size, the number of reps that you perform at the gym to your cholesterol levels.

One of the more obscure ways to leverage data in your everyday life though is in your relationships. By leveraging data in your relationship, you can start to track where your points of conflicts are, then you can start to drill down into why that conflict is occurring, and finally learn how to prevent it from happening again.

The goal of data is to leverage it into changing human behavior; both in business and in relationships.

If you look at your calendar and your checkbook, you’ll quickly see where your priorities truly lie.

Visit us here to see how you can leverage your data into growth.

Praxis Metrics- How to create a data-driven culture

How to build a data-driven culture in your company

Creating a data-driven culture within an organization is a monumental task; especially if the organization is well established. In this blog post, we hope to outline the benefits of creating a democratized data-driven culture and some steps that you can take to achieve it.

What is selective data culture?

Most companies have a selective data culture. In this culture most employees don’t deal with data. Data resides in the C-suite and with the data team (if one exists). General employees receive nuggets of information, but they never see the numbers behind it. This often leads to something called the “Atlas effect”.

The “Atlas effect” occurs when an organization relies on one individual to keep all of the data and insights in their head. A system like this results in the individual becoming invaluable to the organization and causes major disruption when they leave.

In order to create a true data-driven organization, you need to democratize your data. This means sharing as much information as you can with your team. This creates a culture of transparency as well as serving as inspiration for your teams.

Our client, Organifi, has created a culture around their data. They democratize their data by having their dashboards displayed on TVs in their office that anyone can look at. And they have daily huddles around their data to make sure that they meet their goals every day.

This has created what they call the “lift effect” for their business. The “lift effect” has resulted from everyone seeing each other’s metrics, causing them create friendly competitions between departments.

You can see more about the effect that this type of culture has had on Organifi here:

Data democratization allows you to engage your entire team in the business data. By doing this, you can leverage the collective strength of your organization. This protects you from relying on individuals, and the “Atlas effect”.

What are the benefits of a democratized data-driven culture?

Employee engagement

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure” -Peter Drucker

In a data-driven culture, employees with less technical skills still work with, and benefit from data. Data allows employees to track their performance and impact on the organization over time, keeping them more engaged in their work. Employee engagement massively helps organizational growth, as engaged employees measure 17% more productive than their peers. Additionally, engaged employees report 20% higher sales than disengaged employees on average.

When employees know the criteria that they are measured against, it helps them remain focused and engaged in their work. Allowing them to track their performance over time helps to remind them of their improvement over time, or serves as a motivator in times of stagnation.

Better ideas

In addition to allowing employees to track their own performance, data-driven organizations allow employees to contribute their specific understanding and knowledge to an analysis. This diversity of viewpoints allows organizations to benefit from a wide variety of ideas. These ideas help them experiment with a number of solutions, and discover new opportunities.

Having someone from marketing look over finance data may seem counter-intuitive, but they may provide critical context to a trend that the finance department didn’t have. Having an operations expert look over sales data can help them understand needs of the team and update or implement new processes to streamline their performance.

Consistent value

In data-driven cultures, employees can discover, reuse, and adapt data to their situation. For example, investing to know the lifetime value of your clients pays off massively over time, as this information provides contextual for your finance, marketing, and operations teams.

As employees gain exposure to data, their data literacy will naturally improve. As data literacy improves, the insights that they bring to the table will get better and better. This cycle increases the potential output of every employee, lifting the entire organization to new heights. This is known as the ‘lift effect’ and we’ll talk about that more later in this post.

Financial

As touched on in the previous benefits, data-driven cultures experience several major financial benefits. One study found that data-driven companies had a 20%-30% higher EBITDA than similar companies.

In 2006, only one of the top-10 companies by market capitalization was data-driven. By 2017, data-driven companies held 6 spots on the list.

Data recently surpassed oil as the most valuable commodity in the world. Is your business sitting on an untapped oil field?

How to start democratizing data

The easiest way to democratize data is to share it. Organifi decided to display their data so that any and all of their employees could see it. Other companies may choose to do weekly meetings where they announce important business KPIs to the entire team. No matter how you go about it, the goal here is to get everyone excited and involved with company data.

Next, it’s imperative that the data be connected to a goal. Data is like gasoline, the goal gives you a destination, and your actions are the vehicle used to reach the destination. Data should fuel the decisions that you make to get to your destination.

From there, the process simply repeats itself. Create new goals, gather new data, share with the team, gather their insights, and hit your goals again.

As you complete this process over and over, it will become the norm and part of your organizational culture.

If you find yourself struggling to create a data-driven culture in your organization, we can help you achieve your goals. Schedule a call with a data expert to see what’s possible for your organization.

Praxis Metrics- How to monetize your data

How to monetize your data

The most valuable commodity on earth

Data recently surpassed oil as the most valuable commodity in the world. The question that we need to ask ourselves is “Why?”; why is data so valuable, and are we making sure that we are getting the maximum value out of our data.

Why is data so valuable?

Data in itself is not particularly valuable. Data is simply a single point of information. The value of data is the actions that you are able to take a a result of the data.

Praxis Metrics- Data Maturity Spectrum
As an example of this, knowing that it is raining does nothing for you in itself. It is simply a point of data. When you begin to merge related points of data together, you get information. By extrapolating your information into patterns, you get knowledge.

Data, information, and knowledge are all powerful tools, but they only help you understand things in hindsight. Taking that knowledge of patterns and using it as a model for the future allows you to gain wisdom. But that wisdom in itself does nothing for you without taking action from it, which is Praxis, or the practical application of wisdom.

Praxis Metrics- Data Maturity Spectrum Example

Data is like a race car. It has limitless potential, but it requires you to put fuel into it before it realizes it’s value. Data requires analysis and action in order to create any value for your company. This brings us to the question of:

How do I make sure that I’m maximizing the value of my data?

There are two ways to make sure that you are getting value out of your data, internal monetization and external monetization.

Internal Monetization

Internal monetization refers to utilizing your data to glean insights to help your company. This can be things like improving your marketing efforts, managing customer experience, or management of your supply chain and equipment maintenance.

Most companies use the internal monetization of data to identify areas of inefficiency. Our client, Digital Marketer, was one of these. We helped them discover a structural issue with their site that was causing a huge SEO issue for them. Upon discovering the issue, they implemented a fix and saw a 50% increase in their traffic. You can read more about that story here: https://praxismetrics.com/success-stories/digitalmarketer/

Another way to monetize internally is to leverage data to expand your product and service offerings. Our client, Danette May, found themselves in a similar position to this. They had been trying to expand a funnel that they had built to offer it to more clients, but they found that they couldn’t increase their ad spend to reach this new market and maintain profitability on the product. They were about to abandon this idea when they came to Praxis to try to figure out what their lifetime customer value was; we helped them discover that their LTV for that funnel was much higher than they initially thought. This allowed them to increase their allowable cost per acquisition by $5, which caused them to experience explosive growth, and now that funnel brings in millions in revenue per year. You can read more about their story here: https://praxismetrics.com/success-stories/danette-may/

External Monetization

Another way to take advantage of your data is to monetize it externally. This can include selling the data that you have on your customers, creating mutually beneficial partnerships with other data-driven firms, and creating new subsidiaries or divisions within your company to take advantage of insights that you have gained. Selling and trading data with other companies is growing more challenging, as data rules and regulations are becoming much stricter across the globe, but these type of partnerships can be extremely lucrative for both parties if done properly.

How can I start monetizing my data?

The most important thing that you need to do before trying to monetize your data is to make sure that your data is accurate and “clean”. Attempting to make decisions off of bad data is like trying to drive that race car, but with a filthy windshield that you can’t see through.

Metrics Mapping

Once you have confidence in your data, the next thing you need to do is start to figure out what numbers are actually important to you an your business. We recommend a process called “Metrics Mapping”. Metrics Mapping helps you to understand exactly what you should be tracking, and what actions you should be taking based off of your numbers.

Metrics Mapping starts with determining your business goals and objectives. So if your goal is to double your revenue by 2021, then what questions do you need answered in order to get there? An example question would be “How do we increase the revenue from our website?”. From there, you can determine the metrics that would help answer that question. “How many conversions are we getting per day/month?” “What is our average order value?” “What are our repurchase rates?” “Where do we get our highest converting traffic?” would all be good questions that can help lead you to the metrics that you need to be tracking.

Praxis Metrics- Metrics Mapping Process

Once you know what you want to track, the next step is to figure out where your “source of truth” is for each of these metrics. Revenue per day/month should be tracked by your accounts (Paypal, Stripe, bank), average order value should be tracked through your sales system, highest converting traffic can be found in Google Analytics, etc. Once you have your “source of truth” selected for each of the metrics that you need to track, you know where you need to check in to see your progress.

Once you know your metrics and where they live, you need to assign someone to manage them. Even if it’s yourself, it’s critical that someone be specifically responsible for these metrics. This person needs to keep an eye on the metrics and know exactly what’s going on with them at any given time. Whether improving or worsening, this person should be aware of why they’re changing.

Dashboarding

Once you have your metrics mapped out, the next thing that you should do is start aggregating and visualizing your data in business intelligence dashboards. These dashboards will help you track your important metrics over time, and at a glance.

At Praxis, we prefer dashboards that go beyond just simple visualizations. We build dashboards that merge multiple sources of data in order to create new, reliable data sets. Our dashboards perform complex analysis and calculations to help you not only understand what has happened in your business, but also help you shape the future of your company.

We’ve built everything from “command centers” where executives and investors can log in to see all of the key metrics that they need, to drill-downs that allow you to see the performance of each of your ads. Through our experience creating these dashboards for our many clients, we have perfected their creation and roll-out. We have more information about these dashboards and what they can do for your business here: https://praxismetrics.com/dashboards/ltv-dashboards/

Next Steps

This article contains a roadmap for data monetization. This may seem overwhelming, but we can help you wherever you are in your journey. We offer services for tracking, dashboarding, and even metrics mapping. All you need to do is follow this link to schedule a call to get a personalized data roadmap for your company from a data expert: https://praxismetrics.com/strategy/schedule/

Praxis Metrics- How to win in the attribution war

How to win in the attribution war

One plus one equals one and a half?

One of the most frustrating aspects of marketing right now is over-attribution when comparing Facebook reports to Google reports.

This occurs when you log into Facebook and it tells you it earned you $100,000 in a period, then Google says it earned you $100,000 in that same period, but you only received $125,000 worth of orders during that same time period.

This, unfortunately, is the new norm in the attribution war. Both Facebook and Google want your advertising money to go to them, so when it comes to tracking and reporting, there are a few things you have to understand:

  • Even though the two platforms integrate with each other, each is entirely separate. They have different goals, definitions, standards, and abilities for tracking.
  • Each platform only owns their own data. That means, when you go into the reporting aspects of Google Ads or Facebook, you will have mathematically biased information. Each platform only sees one variable (their ads) as an impact on your sales. However, there are always multiple variables involved—multi-channel marketing, public relations, organic posts… even the weather and political climate can impact your sales.

So, when you log in and see varying information, they’re not trying to lie, they’re just presenting their side of the story.

Everyone knows that there are three sides to any story. Each person has their version, and then there’s the truth, which is somewhere in the middle. So, when it comes to Facebook and Google reporting, neither is lying, but also neither is showing you the entire picture because they both are inherently biased. Facebook, for example, counts any conversion that has seen an ad on their platform and then converts as a “view-through” conversion; and Google uses last-click attribution by default in their reporting because that favors them.

Then how do I get data that I can trust?

There are two steps to get accurate reporting on your marketing efforts in your systems.

#1: Tracking

Get as much information as possible. Information is simply multiple points of data brought together to allow you to see patterns and gain answers to questions, like:

  • How much overlap do we have in reporting?
  • Are there clients that have been exposed to multiple marketing efforts?
    • If so, are we tying together their customer journey with accurate tracking efforts?
  • What are all the possible impacts on our sales?
    • How have they impacted sales before?
  • Are there correlations?

How are you going to answer these questions to get the insights you desire? You must have the data in order to be able to analyze the data to get insight.

That means, tracking is the first and primary component of accuracy in your reporting:

Are you tracking your client’s journey?

As we discussed earlier, Google uses last-touch attribution to assign credit to conversions. This slants credit towards Google, as by the end of a customer’s journey they tend to be aware of your brand, and therefore more likely to search for your name and click on a search ad or organic search result.

Google Analytics has many attribution models that you can try out to see which one works best for you. From position based (Which assigns 40% of the conversion value to the first and last touch, and then distributes the remaining 20% across all other touch points) to time decay (which assigns credit based off how close to the conversion date it was), it’s important to make a conscious choice of which attribution model you want to use. Each attribution model has its pro’s and con’s, but by staying aware of how the model affects your reporting, you can reduce bias in your reports.

Are you using pixels?

Tracking pixels have exploded in popularity. Many popular advertising platforms now use tracking pixels in order to track conversions and user interactions with the ads. Pixels provide amazing reporting because you can install them almost anywhere, from emails to landing pages, and, as of now, they can’t be disabled by a browser.

Pixels can help you gain greater understanding over how users interact with your advertisements and your website. Providing granular data about user’s behavior based off the platforms that they visit your site from.

Do you have unique identifiers for your clients that allow you to see their customer journey?

Specifically, you need a way to assign a user-id to your clients so that you can track their behaviors across devices. If you don’t have this set up, then when a user changes devices, you will lose all of the data from their initial visit. This can lead to incomplete customer journey’s and skew your attribution data.

Do you have organized UTMs setup?

The very best solution for the attribution problem is to utilize UTMs in all of your marketing efforts. UTMs allow you to tell Google Analytics exactly how you would like to categorize your traffic. Every external link that directs to your site should have UTM parameters appended to them in order to help assign credit to the proper source.  You can even add in campaign data in order to track which of your campaigns drives the best traffic to your site.

UTMs can be one of the most powerful tools available to marketers, or they can be their downfall. UTMs need to be standardized and utilized consistently, or they will make the data even more convoluted and confusing. You need to implement standardized rules for your UTM usage across the organization in order to make sure that your data remains as accurate and clean as possible.

If you don’t already have these things in place, that is your top priority.

By organizing your tracking efforts, you can start gathering the data you will need in the future. If you need help with your tracking, we have a variety of services that can help you get your tracking in order.

#2: Reporting

Once you have tracking in place, you can typically manually create Excel reports that give you a much more accurate depiction of your marketing efforts (including lift effects and other variables). However, over time, that becomes tedious and time consuming and allows for too much human error.

The next logical step is to automate via ETL (extracting, transforming, and loading the information from these systems into a singular place) and then to visualize the combined, clean data with a dashboard.

This enables you to eliminate wasted time, effort, and give you insights in a quick and digestible manner. This process can be very intense and require the help of a data scientist.

Fortunately, we specialize in exactly this type of process and can help you revolutionize your data reporting. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you with ETL and visualization, visit us here.

Bonus #3: Democratize your data

This one may seem out of the blue, but it can change the way that your entire organization interacts with data.

Democratizing data means providing access to data to everyone in your company. Not just information that pertains to their specific corner of the business, but the business as a whole. We have clients who have walls of TVs dedicated to displaying their data for the entire company. Everyone from entry-level employees to C-suite officers has access to the same data.

You may be asking yourself, “How on earth would that help my business?” Everyone has different backgrounds and experience, so when one person looks 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.

Accountants can be creative, and marketing people can help solve operational issues. Democratizing your data can help you gain a myriad of insights and give you an edge over your competition.

You have tons of data; but data alone will not grow your business. It’s the insights from the data that will inform your team on how to grow. Companies that focus on causation will scale. Those that don’t, will fail.

Praxis Metrics- Financial Marketing Summit

Financial Marketing Summit Keynote Speech

Data is a lot like teenage sex-

Everyone talks about it, but nobody really knows how to do it. Everyone thinks that everybody else is doing it though, so they pretend that they are doing it too.

– Dan Ariely

Now that we have your attention, we can get into the meat of the content. This lecture was initially presented to a group of financial marketers, but it’s applicable to businesses in any sector.

Why do I need to know the lifetime value of my customers?

Lifetime Value (LTV) may be one of the most important metrics that a business can measure. Everything from cash-flow to ad spend relies almost exclusively on this number. If you know the lifetime value of your customers by source, and you know the amount of margin that you need to make off that customer, then finding the maximum acceptable Cost per Acquisition (CPA) is a simple equation. Likewise, with cash-flow calculations. If you know when customers who purchase item A will likely return to purchase item B, then you can forecast your revenues pretty accurately.

Our client Danette May has the perfect example of these pieces coming together. They had a funnel that wasn’t converting to the level that they needed it to, and they were about to cut it. They came to Praxis Metrics to find out what their average LTV was for customers who came through the funnel. We supplied them with that data, and armed with that new information, they found that they could afford to spend more on acquiring those customers than they previously thought.

By increasing their acceptable CPA by just $5, they increased from 15 sales per day to 350 sales per day within two weeks. The trend continued upward to hit 615 units per day off this single funnel. With an average value per order of roughly $97, they now make more than $30,000 per day in sales. Across the year this funnel alone accounts for more than $10,000,000. If you would like to hear more about their story, you can see more of what they have to say here: https://praxismetrics.com/success-stories/danette-may/

How can you get a leg up in your business?

There is more noise and competition for clients than ever before. Anyone with a laptop and an internet connection can now start a business and possibly disrupt entire industries. How do you compete in a landscape like this? Information.

Information is at the heart of most of the problems faced by businesses today. Either you wander around blindly because you have too little information; or you have too much information stored in information silos. These silos may contain valuable insights, but since they don’t communicate with the other systems, you have to rely on humans to extract the valuable information and make it usable.

Taking action from data is the new competitive advantage.

The only difference between a successful online marketer and a failure is that the successful marketer knows why they were successful and can replicate that success.

Data does not solve problems.

Data is never the solution to a problem, data merely guides you to information. Information leads to knowledge. Knowledge transforms into wisdom, and wisdom when applied to your actions, creates Praxis.

The major dividing line in this system is the transition from knowledge to wisdom. Everything that comes before wisdom is based off past observations, and makes no statements on the future. Wisdom allows you to make predictions about things to come. Praxis requires taking those predictions and then doing something about it to better your life.

Not taking action from data is like owning a race car, but then never putting fuel into it.

Data contains the what. Information tells you the when or the where. Knowledge teaches you how. Wisdom guides you to why. Praxis is the actions that you take based off the data, information, knowledge, and wisdom that you gain.

Where do I begin?

Your outputs are only as good as your inputs.

Therefore, you need to begin by tracking your data. This forms the base of everything that you build later, so you need to make sure that your tracking is in order.

Meaghan and AJ provide a personal example of taking data all the way through Praxis beginning at 19:10 if you are interested in hearing more about that.

The initial phase of your journey is all about getting clean, accurate data. The number one mistake that small to medium businesses make is that they are not using UTM’s in all of their marketing efforts, and they don’t have their Google Analytics set up properly.

What the devil is a UTM, and why does it matter?

You can track your marketing campaigns uniformly across most analytics tools utilizing UTM parameters. UTMs work with Google Analytics and many other tracking tools.

UTM is an abbreviation for “Urchin Tracking Module”. “Urchin” came from one of the very best website analytics tools that used on-page scripts to collect visitor data.

Like a lot of great web software, Google eventually acquired Urchin.

A UTM has five variants of URL parameters used by marketers to track the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns across traffic sources and publishing media. UTMs contain an encoded suffix that you append to a URL (A URL being a website link). The suffix is generally quite long and is made up of various ‘parameters.’

Each parameter provides specific information about the link in question. And by stringing parameters together, you can track your online marketing campaigns with a tremendous amount of detail and granularity.

UTM’s are one of the most powerful tools that you have in your analytics arsenal, but they can also be very daunting to get started with. We have written several blog posts on the subject matter, which can help you understand them much better. You can read more of those here: How to increase revenue with one simple tweak, and here: Why UTM’s are so important, and we even set up a course that will teach you from start to finish how to create UTM’s and even has a spreadsheet that will automatically create them for you here: https://datarich.thinkific.com/

After UTM’s, what’s next?

Once you have control of your UTM parameters, you need to start a process called Metrics Mapping. Metrics Mapping allows you to gain clarity on what metrics you should track, and what those metrics do for your business.

Metrics Mapping starts with your business goals. You need to know where you want to go before you can create a map to get there.

From there, you need to figure out what questions you have to answer in order to accomplish that goal. You could ask questions like, “Where do my sales come from?”, or “How many sales have I averaged over the last 30 days?”.

Once you have the questions that you need to answer, you need to find the metrics that answer those questions for you. You need to hunt down where the most accurate information on the topic lives, and then work to connect all of the most accurate data sources together.

Once we have pulled all of the data together, you have to validate the data to make sure that it is accurate.

After you have all of your accurate data in one place, you can apply formulas and filters to make sure that it’s showing you just what you’re looking for, and then it’s time to plug that data into a data-visualization tool.

OK, I am done with tracking, everything looks good. What now?

Congratulations on making it through the tracking stage! You’re now ready to move into the fun stage: automation.

What compound interest is to your money, automation is to your time.

Automation takes your business to the next level, it allows you to scale your business in ways that most people don’t even imagine. By removing manual reporting and human errors, you not only save your company money, but time. Automation allows you to free up some of the smartest people in your organization to do what they do best rather than fetching data and compiling reports.

The automation stage allows your team to no longer have to look at raw data, but now they can look at actionable KPI’s that they can easily glean insights from. The automation stage rapidly progresses people out of the information and knowledge stages and allows you to begin to focus on the wisdom and Praxis stages exclusively. That is one of the primary reasons that companies who get to this point are able to rapidly scale and expand their business.

Businesses that reach automation can focus on what they do best and let machines do the rest.

That covers the first two steps of data maturity.

The action steps that you need to take in order to get past these stages are:

  1. Start tracking now
  2. Organize your tracking
  3. Map out your most valuable KPI’s
  4. Begin to track those KPI’s
  5. Automate as much as possible.

If you would like to see more of the path of data maturity, be sure to check out our presentation of the entire process of data maturity here: https://praxismetrics.com/blog/data-rich/how-to-scale-in-the-modern-business-landscape/

Praxis Metrics- How to make sure your data is trustworthy

How can I make sure my data is trustworthy?

How much do you trust your data?

When you see information displayed, are you skeptical of it, or do you believe that it is telling you the truth?

Today we wanted to go over why most businesses don’t trust their data, and how to increase your confidence in your data.

Assume nothing

One of the top 5 mistakes that businesses make is assuming that everything is tracking properly. Your output is only as good as your input. If your tracking software isn’t set up properly, then all of the insights that you get from that data are tainted.

Google Analytics is a very powerful, robust tool that helps businesses gain insights into their customers and their behaviors. It is also the number one most underutilized and error-prone tool used by small and medium businesses.

Analytics tools are notoriously difficult to set up properly, and unless you have an expert come in to set it up for you, or you invest the time to truly understand how to set it up properly, it can quickly turn from a bucket full of data to a bucket full of holes. Many businesses know that their tracking is not correct, but they don’t know how to fix it; so they take the incomplete or inaccurate data that they have and they do their best with what they have.

If you take anything away from this, do not assume that everything is set up properly, or tracking properly. Make sure that you have an expert set up and validate as much as possible.

People also make the mistake of assuming that once they have Google Analytics set up properly that they can leave it and it will track everything perfectly. Your business is constantly evolving, and your website also is going through constant tweaks, updates, and changes. You need to make sure that everything that you do is tracked in Google Analytics properly, from your goals to your ecommerce, you need to make sure that any changes that you make are reflected in your tracking.

Set up a Data Dictionary

Another big thing that you can do to help increase your trust in your data is to set up a data dictionary for yourself. A data dictionary is a place where you have a source of truth for all of your systems. This will act as a reference point and a description for where that data is generated (Like a phone book for your data). Having a data dictionary helps you know exactly where all of your numbers come from, and it also helps you keep your naming conventions consistent across the board.

Data dictionaries are awesome, but in order to get the most out of them, you need to keep them constantly updated and make them accessible to everyone. Data works best when it is democratized across an organization, rather than in one person’s head or computer. By democratizing the data, you can gain insights and perspectives from everyone across the organization, helping propel your entire company to be more data driven.

Track your data over time

If you want to increase your trust in your data, you need to track it over time. Tracking your data over time lets you pinpoint what works and what doesn’t work with your measurements and reporting. Having a finger on the pulse of your data lets you know when something seems wrong or out of place. This can protect you from making decisions based off bad data.

Do you have a hard time trusting your data? Would you like to have someone check up on your Google Analytics? We perform a 64 point Google Analytics audit to make sure that everything is set up and tracking properly. Contact us here and we can help you trust in your data again.

Praxis Metrics- Data driven marketing

Data-Driven Marketing for the Entrepreneur Who Failed Math Class

Data doesn’t have to be a scary thing.

In this video, we will simplify data, as well as talk about how to use data in your marketing, and how to use it in your life.

Going from a stable job at a power company to starting your own educational company teaching people beer brewing and beer tasting online doesn’t seem like a common career trajectory, but that is exactly what this entrepreneur did. Why? Because the data told him that he could.

What does being data driven mean?

Being data driven begins with knowing the numbers that are important to your business, and knowing what will drive growth in your business. There are only three ways to grow your existing business: you either need to get more customers, get larger order values from those customers, or you sell more things to existing customers. Every action that you take needs to tie back to one of those metrics.

It’s very easy to get lost in the weeds with data, but if you always tie each of the metrics back to those three objectives, then you will always be in good shape.

How can you think about your data to make it more manageable?

Start by asking yourself questions. Don’t start by looking at tools that you think that you might need, start by figuring out what drives your business forward.

One question that every business needs to figure out early on is: how much can I afford to pay to acquire a new customer? Once you figure out the questions like that, the questions that will drive your business forward, then you can start looking for platforms that will allow you to track the information that will drive you to those answers.

Once you have the platforms chosen, you will need to verify the data that they are passing back to you. You will need to determine a platform that you trust and make that the final word on what data you trust; we call this the single source of truth. You need to have one place that has the final say when it comes to important data points for your business: for your money, it can be your stripe account, for your leads, it can be your CRM. Find that one place that you can turn to and trust whatever it says for each of the important KPI’s that impact those key questions.

You will find as you progress in your data journey that there are redundancies in your data tracking, and sometimes the data will not line up between platforms; that is why it is important to figure out for each one of your most important KPI’s what is going to be your final source of truth.

It’s not about how many metrics you have, it’s about having the right ones and then having an action tied to it.

Whenever there is a data anomaly, you need to figure out what happened to cause it. If it was a good anomaly, you want to figure out how you can replicate it; if it was a bad one, you want to figure out how to avoid it in the future.

The key to finding those anomalies is to be in your data, or to have alerts set up so that you are aware when something changes in your business.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure.

Your output is only as good as your input, so if your data is inaccurate or if you are tracking the wrong things, then you may end up making decisions that will impact the success of your business off faulty information.

If you’re not tracking your data properly from the bottom up, you are not going to be able to have the data that you need.

From relationships to health, data is everywhere.

Data surrounds us in every aspect of our lives, it’s like the Matrix. And like the Matrix, once we learn how to see and understand that data, we can do remarkable things with it.

People and data together can do anything.

My name is AJ Yager at PraxisMetrics.com and thank you for investing your time here with me today. Please connect with Praxis on Linkedin and Facebook for more resources to help you scale. We love to help companies like yours grow and achieve their goals faster, so please reach out to me at my email as well if you have any specific questions.

Good luck on your journey!

Praxis Metrics- Becoming Data-driven

4 vital steps to becoming a data-driven company

Step 1- Remove emotion from the equation.

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.

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.

How do you remove emotion from the equation? The simplest way to remove emotion from the equation is to just let the numbers speak for themselves. No matter how hard things get, they will always get harder if you make the wrong decision.

It’s one thing to make the wrong decision because you went with a knee-jerk reaction; it’s a whole other beast to make the wrong decision because you had bad data. That’s why our next step is:

Step 2- Get your tracking in order.

You can’t make good decisions off of bad data. If your tracking is off, all of the insights that you get from that data are tainted.

One of the top 5 mistakes that businesses make is assuming that everything is tracking properly. Google Analytics is a very powerful, robust tool that helps businesses gain insights into their customers and their behaviors. It is also the number one most underutilized and error-prone tool used by small and medium businesses.

Analytics tools are notoriously difficult to set up properly, and unless you have an expert come in to set it up for you, or you invest the time to truly understand how to set it up properly, it can quickly turn from a bucket full of data to a bucket full of holes.

Many businesses know that their tracking is not correct, but they don’t know how to fix it; so they take the incomplete or inaccurate data that they have and they do their best with what they have.

The end goal of this step is to get you to the point where you have:

  • Organized UTM’s
  • Advanced Pixels
  • Custom Conversions
  • Event Tracking

We’ll go through each of these goals individually:

Organized UTM’s:

UTM’s are one of the most powerful tools that you have in your analytics arsenal, but they can also be very daunting to get started with. That is why we have written several blog posts on the subject matter, which you can find here: How to increase revenue with one simple tweak, Why UTM’s are so important, and we even set up a course that will teach you from start to finish how to create UTM’s and even has a spreadsheet that will automatically create them for you here: https://datarich.thinkific.com/

Advanced Pixels:

Tracking pixels generally have a similar functionalities to cookies. However, as more and more users are blocking cookies using browser functions, cookies provide incomplete data, and are often blocked completely.

Tracking pixels area good alternative to cookies as they cannot be blocked by a normal browser currently. Pixels gather a vast array of user data and pass it along to analytics tools. Some of the most popular advertising platforms use pixels to track user behavior and conversions. In addition to the basic tracking functions, pixels can also track custom events, such as video plays, button clicks, or time spent on a page.

Custom Conversions/ Event Tracking:

As we discussed in advanced pixel tracking, you can track so much more than simply page views and conversions. There is no end to the number of behaviors that you can track on a page. We recommend setting up custom goals, conversions and events within your analytics properties and assigning values to each of these items. While someone may not have purchased through your site, they may have filled out a contact form, or given their email address. If you know the average conversion rate for clients on your email list, and the average order value for them, you can assign a value to each email signup.

It’s just like we always say, your output is only as good as your input. If you can get your tracking in order, you are more than halfway through the journey to become a data driven company.

Step 3- Automate your reporting

Once you have your tracking in order, and you know that you have accurate data; you can move on to the next step: automation

You’ll know you’re ready for this step if you have all the complex tracking in place, but you or your team spends a ton of time gathering valuable insights from different systems and compiling them together into google sheets or into excel and pivot tables.

What compound interest is to your money, automation is to your time.

Businesses that we work with get most excited by this step, because it’s where we begin to focus on scaling the business. Automation leads to a reduction in overhead, increase in productivity, and allows you and your team to focus on the analysis of the information, rather than the collection of data. Automation eliminates the human error component of reporting, further allowing you to have complete confidence in the data that you receive.

To scale your business and progress even more, the focus shifts to integrating your systems together so that they automatically transform the raw data into the insights you need to take action. This allows your team to focus on valuable actions rather than mundane data entry. In technical terms, this is called ETL (automatically extracting, transforming and loading your data into one place). For more information on this process, and how we use it with the companies that we work with, be sure to check out our post on data-driven mistakes even good ecommerce business owners make (and how to avoid them).

Step 4- Democratize the data

The final step that you need to take is to share this information with all the people on your team. You wouldn’t believe the value that democratizing your data can have on your organization. Sharing data allows people to bring their diverse backgrounds and viewpoints to the data to help interpret it.

By allowing your team to access the data, they can bring valuable insights to the table and different perspectives that you might not have seen. We call this the lift effect, and we have seen it happen many times across multiple companies and industries. We recently talked to one of our clients about the value that democratizing data has had for them. Be sure to check out our full interview with Organifi here.

Everyone has their own ideas about what it means to have a data-driven culture. We don’t believe that this list is exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination; but we do believe that if you follow these steps, your business will transform into a data-driven organization. If you follow the steps that we outlined here, we guarantee that you will see a change in your business.

If you have questions on any of these steps, or need help with implementation; we are here to help. We provide comprehensive analytics audits to help see where you may have issues with your data. If you struggle with automation, we have a series of pre-built dashboards that can automate your data for you. If none of those interest you, we can also build out custom dashboards to measure unique metrics for your business.