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/

Chatbot KPI's

4 Fantastic KPI’s that you should be using in your chatbot marketing

How do I measure the effectiveness of my chatbot marketing?

We decided to have a “chat” with the king of Facebook marketing: Curt Maly.

Curt is a social marketing expert, owner of multiple online marketing businesses, consultant and national speaker joins us today with his vast knowledge of all things marketing data related.

What are the benefits of chatbots?

People generally react faster to the notifications from a Facebook message than to notifications about an email. Not every customer responds positively though, most people tend to the extremes in their feelings towards these messages: they either love them or they hate them.

Another benefit of using chatbots in marketing is that they help to automate out customer service. Chatbots essentially create auto-responders within an AI platform, allowing you to dedicate your time and resources elsewhere.

Chatbots also help decrease the necessity of traditional funnels. You can utilize chatbots to move your clients from one point of the traditional funnel to the next without needing to set up traditional stages. Rather than segmenting people into phases like a traditional funnel, chatbots allow you to just have a conversation with the client and naturally progress them through their journey.

How hard is it to set up chatbots?

Just like funnels, you can make chatbots as simple or as complex as you would like. Creating a basic chatbot requires minimal knowledge, and only needs a few options for auto-response. Essentially you just need to think through a standard conversation that happens on a sales call or customer service call, and input the different variables into the chatbot.

KPI #1- Cost per Acquisition

This is the amount of money that it takes for someone to engage with your message. You can find this information by dividing your ad spend across the total number of new messages that you get. Facebook will try to conflate this data with Cost per Reply, but that will give you an inaccurate picture of your actual cost per acquisition.

KPI #2- Cost per Reply

Facebook will track this metric automatically for you. It’s a very important metric to keep top of mind, because it can help you understand the cost of re-engaging a lead that you fell out of contact with.

KPI #3- Cost per Open

This metric matches up nicely to open rates on email, with one difference: most people see at least an 80% “open rate” on Facebook messages. This happens because if someone browses Facebook on their browser, the message will automatically open, inflating the open rate.

KPI #4- Click Through Rate

Click through rates on Facebook messenger generally align very closely with email click through rates. Most people will see between 6-10% click through rates on Facebook messages. Many people mistakenly claim that they get better click through rates through Facebook messenger. In reality, they are generally getting more leads than from email, due to the increased open rate of Facebook messages.

Improve sales using data

How can I use data to improve my sales?

Do you have more data than you know what to do with?

Most businesses do. In today’s world, everything is tracked, and it produces an overwhelming amount of information. Today, most professionals have a harder time sifting through irrelevant data than they do collecting data.

That’s a problem that we wanted to address in this podcast. We wanted to tackle the question: “Now that I have the data that I want, what do I do with it?”.

It’s not about how much data you have, it’s about asking the right questions and then letting the data tell it’s story.

Time is the most valuable asset that we have, yet we don’t keep very good track of it. Most people go through their days not really thinking about how they spend their time, and not realizing all of the time that they waste in a day. You should spend as much time monitoring your time budget as you do your fiscal budget.

If you want to maximize your effectiveness and happiness, you need to find ways to maximize your time. We all want to increase our productivity and optimize the effectiveness of our time, but eventually we all reach our “optimal level”. At that point, if we want to keep progressing, the only thing left to do is to eliminate waste.

Whether or not we want to admit it to ourselves, wasting time is a huge part of our lives. By decreasing the time that we spend on non-income producing tasks, we can further optimize our time, increasing our time spent on actually valuable tasks. By refusing to track your time as carefully as you track your money, you often lie to yourself. You convince yourself that you spent your time wisely, when in reality, you could have done so much more.

Track your time for 24 hours a day across 2 weeks, and see the story it tells.

Break down your day into 15 minute increments and see exactly how you spent your time across those 2 weeks. Often times it paints a picture that you don’t want to see; but that’s the picture you need to see. By seeing exactly how much time you spend doing things that aren’t worth it, you can see how much more you are capable of.

One client found that they spent only 2.5 hours per day producing actual income for themselves. They spent the rest of the day doing tasks that they considered productive, but on further examination, they found that they had much more pressing things to deal with.

We can automate, delegate, or eliminate so many of the tasks that fill our days; making us more productive, or allowing us the freedom to follow a new passion.

We have data in our CRM’s, data coming from social media, data from our website; how do we sift through it and find the things that actually make a difference?

We found that most small to medium businesses have 15-18 different sources of data. We also found that those sources of data rarely talk to one another. This turns into a huge drain on your effectiveness and time, having to go between all the sources of data to find the information that you need.

The first thing that you need to do in order to get out of the rut of going through all of those disparate pieces of data is a process called metrics mapping. Metrics mapping requires you to start with a high level view of your business and ask the questions that you want answers to. Most people want to know things like, “How much money am I making?” “Which products are driving the most revenue?” “Where am I losing money?”. After asking the questions, it’s time to figure out what metrics, or KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) answer that question.

After you know what metrics you want to measure, it’s time to find what system tracks that data, and which one you trust the most. If you want to know how much money your business has, your Paypal, Stripe, or bank account is probably a good place to use as where you pull that metric from. If you want to know how many visitors came to your site yesterday, you would probably turn to Google Analytics. Once you have picked out that “source of truth” for each metric, you can begin to track that information and start answering your business questions.

Almost every company has holes in their data, generally because people don’t recognize the value of that data.

Many organizations have problems with incomplete or inaccurate data. There are several potential solutions to this, but the best ones generally are to either automate out the data collection or to train everyone in the organization in the value of the data. Automation represents a long-term and scalable solution to the problem, but it also generally requires a large up-front investment in the technology. For that reason, many businesses would rather just train everyone in their organization on the importance of the data, and how it can actually make a difference for both the individual and the organization over time.

The sales team is the most important team to communicate this to. As one of the first groups that has contact with the clients, they have access to massive amounts of data that often falls by the wayside because they don’t view it as important. Allowing them access to the data and the insights that come from that data is one of the easiest ways to show them the true value of the data that is being collected. If they can see the direct correlation between their data collection efforts and the insights that allow them to make more money, they will never again willingly let data slip through the cracks.

Reward the habits and not the results.

In sales we have lead indicators and lag indicators. The lead indicators are the things that you have complete control over, i.e. contacting x number of leads per day, making x number of cold calls, making at least x number of sales pitches. Lag indicators are the results that follow the lead indicators, i.e. number of sales, amount of revenue, etc. What’s truly powerful about harnessing the power of data is that once you know your lead indicators well enough, you can shift the focus from rewarding lag indicators to rewarding the lead indicators. A system like this allows you to reward the behaviors that drive results, rather than just the results themselves.

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!

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

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

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

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

Mistake #1: Not automating data extraction

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

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

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

Mistake #3: Not making your data actionable

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

Mistake #4: Not democratizing data

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

Mistake #5: Not focusing on the bottom line

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

Mistake #6: Worrying about the chicken vs the egg

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

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