Meaghan was recently interviewed on Lena Elkin’s podcast, Unfiltered.
Check out the full episode below along with our insights on the most important points.
How did Meaghan get her start?
Meaghan grew up in a home that was not entrepreneurial at all. No one in her family had ever gone to college, so she was taught that management was the goal. If you could reach management, you had arrived.
She had her first taste of entrepreneurship in college selling encyclopedias door to door. This experience allowed her to become her own boss and manager her own “company”. This opened her eyes to how her own individual contributions affected her income. Through this experience, she learned the value of being 100% responsible for herself and her outcomes.
After that, she became a sales consultant, but still under an organization. During this time, she met AJ. AJ is an entrepreneur through and through. He started creating companies at age 10, so he opened her eyes to the possibilities of entrepreneurship.
One of the biggest transitions that she had to make was to shift her mindset from individual contributor to growing a company.
Luckily, her journey with data started much earlier.
Meaghan was the math nerd from an early age. She jokes that she had more math books than friends. Meaghan loved math and numbers because everything had a correct response. Everything was either right or wrong, and it was clear why.
She had planned to become a math teacher, but upon discovering her gift for sales, she decided to focus on hustling while she could and teach later in life.
The sales bottleneck
In all of Meaghan’s sales experience, she relied on her inputs to create outputs. She either knocked doors to get sales, or she cold-called businesses to get sales. Enter AJ.
AJ worked in marketing, and Meaghan wanted to learn more about what that meant. So she shadowed him working on a client. The client had set up a course that he wanted to sell, so AJ set up a sales funnel and landing pages, and then sent out an email to his list. They had 500,000 on that list, so they sat back and waited to see the responses. Within 8 hours, the campaign had cleared $1.2 million.
Upon seeing this, Meaghan knew that she needed to make the jump from sales to marketing. Because of her background in sales, she helped with copy and closing clients. Upon spending some time in the agency, she began to notice patterns in the data.
In her time working in sales, she would split test approaches and different scripts. Over time, she perfected her sales pitch. Upon making the switch to marketing, she realized that they did the exact same thing, just on a larger scale, and with more automation.
The marketing bottleneck
While running the agency with AJ, they had to report back to their clients on the progress of their campaigns. So they had a marketer who had to run reports for clients all day, every day. He wasn’t able to do anything else because they had to get this data to their clients.
So Meaghan started researching ways to automate their reporting. She found the solution in the world of data analytics and business intelligence. She found that many of these programs could automatically do what they had someone doing by hand. The programs could extract the data from all of the different sources, aggregate it, and even display it in an easy to interpret format.
Once they rolled out these reporting solutions to their clients, they naturally wanted more. They wanted more information on their business and wanted that same powerful reporting for everything. Ultimately, everything that Meaghan worked on led her down the path to Praxis.
AJ and Meaghan pivoted their marketing agency into a data analytics agency, and now help business owners and marketers understand their businesses better through data.
How to take advantage of your data
The first thing that you need to do to truly take advantage of your data is set your ego and emotions aside. As Meaghan talked about earlier, numbers allow you to see in black and white. Rather than focusing on how they make you feel, you can use that information to help you grow forward and progress.
The next thing that you need to do in order to truly take advantage of your data is a process called “ETL”. ETL stands for Extract, Transform, and Load. Essentially, you need to extract raw data from the back ends of your systems, then transform it to make sure that it accurately reflects what you want to measure, and then load it into a business intelligence or visualization tool.
Lots of solopreneurs and early stage entrepreneurs end up needing to learn sales and marketing in order to get their company off the ground. Learning data as well would likely push anyone over the edge.
That’s a big reason why Praxis shifted down-market. We used to work with larger companies, but we found that they needed answers to the same questions that the little guys did. Everyone wanted to know what worked, what didn’t work, where to spend more money, and where to cut spending in order to better optimize.
The best time to start thinking about integrating a BI or dashboarding tool is after you’ve already hit $250,000 in revenue. For businesses pre-$250,000 it’s best to focus on tracking. Too many businesses wait until they get big in order to worry about their data; but you can’t leverage data that you don’t have. Every business needs to set up tracking, and the earlier you set it up, the better.
Most businesses spend all of their time worrying about their copy and their look and feel, but they neglect their tracking. Google Analytics is one of the most underutilized and error-prone tools on the market.
We see lots of big companies that come to us with very little or no data available to them, looking for answers to their business questions, but they don’t have any data. We have to take them back to the beginning and help them set up their tracking, and then we can help them analyze the data as it comes in.
Data is sexy.
Lots of people view data as something that happened in the past, and therefore not something that can help them in their current situation; however, the true power of data is that it can help you see the patterns in the past, and then predict and shape the future.
As we covered earlier, it’s very important to get started as early as possible with this process. So now we want to cover how you can get started:
UTMs are a free tool that every business can and should use for all of their marketing. UTMs allow you to pass information through URLs in order to better track where your traffic comes from. Adding UTMs to your external links allows you to understand how your customers found you and what content they interacted with.
UTMs allow you to see much cleaner, more granular data about the performance of your marketing efforts. This allows you to get better insights, allowing you to decrease waste and double down on what works.
If you want to learn more about UTMs, we have a course that walks through how to build them and gives you tools to help you automate the creation of your UTMs. Here is the link to that course.
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.
The data landscape rapidly changes and shifts, but a flurry of recent announcements will shaken the core of how we measure and track customers.
What is happening?
Basically, until now we’ve been living in the wild west of data, but after a wave of data scandals a new sheriff has come to town. And this sheriff is changing all of the rules. The new priority for data is privacy first, marketers second. These new rules are coming through legislation, and the gods of the internet. We’ll explore what’s happening in both groups, and what happens next.
It all started with GDPR, but now consumer data legislation is popping up around the globe. In the US, the California Consumer Privacy Act just officially passed (and will go into effect in 2020); meanwhile, similar regulations are developing in Brazil and India as well.
What do these laws entail?
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)-
GDPR is a law passed by the EU in 2016, and began enforcement in 2018. The stated goals of the law are to: harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy, and reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy. It does this by levying heavy fines against any business that is found in violation of the regulations. This applies to all companies processing the personal data of data subjects residing in the Union, regardless of the company’s location.
California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)-
The CCPA will allow consumers to force companies to tell them what personal information they have collected. It also lets consumers force companies to delete that data or to forbid them from sharing it with third parties. This law aims to target larger businesses, and only applies to businesses that earn more than $25 million in gross revenue, businesses with data on more than 50,000 consumers, or firms that make more than 50% of their revenue selling consumer data (I.E. data brokers).
While this law only applies to customers who live in the state of California, 17 other states are currently exploring similar legislation. It’s likely that most companies will just adopt these practices across the board.
Both Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics use a default 30-day conversion window, allowing you to see the impact of every touch that impacted a conversion in that time frame. Those attribution models on Safari browsers will now only collect data on the last seven days prior to conversion, deleting any data collected before that point.
For remarketing, marketers now only have seven days to programmatically target Safari visitors. After that, their data will be deleted, along with the ability to retarget them.
Other effects from this change include: cross-device visitor tracking becoming unreliable, and a dramatic uptick in unique visitor counts. Visitors who span multiple devices and have a buying journey more than seven days will look like new visitors when they finally return, skewing the data. Additionally, since they now look like new visitors every seven days, new visitor counts will skyrocket.
Mozilla rolled out similar features to its popular internet browser, Firefox, earlier this year. They recently rolled out an “Enhanced Tracking Protection” feature, which blocks all third-party cookies by default. They also began blocking over 2,500 tracking domains, many of which control multiple cookies, and plan to “update and improve this list over time”.
Chrome will add a browser extension that will showcase the names of the AdTech providers on each page and the personalization factors associated with each cookie. They also plan to provide user-level cookie control for third-party cookies.
What can we do?
First party cookies
Moving from third-party tracking cookies to first-party cookies will help protect against these updates and changes.
Most of the changes implemented by the tech companies target third-party cookies, but none of them target first-party cookies yet. This allows you to continue tracking your customer journey without interference.
This change also provides a number of fringe benefits, including: ownership of the data, reduced likelihood of blocking, and better storage and utilization opportunities.
Owning your data insulates you from changes or updates to any future terms and conditions. It also allows you to store the data indefinitely.
In order to implement this, you’ll need to develop the cookies and have a data-warehouse to store the information collected.
It should be noted with this solution that since you own the data, you assume 100% responsibility for it. This includes compliance with the privacy laws previously discussed, as well as the protection of the data.
Tracking pixels have managed to avoid much scrutiny yet, and therefore they have escaped the proverbial regulatory hammer so far.
Pixels transmit their data directly to a server, rather than storing data in the browser. This makes the pixel extremely useful, as the user cannot delete the data by clearing their cache.
As regulation ramps up, we predict that most tracking will transition from cookies to pixels, and the data produced by these pixels will move to large data-warehouses for storage. Similar to a first-party cookie, the data gathered from pixels will become the responsibility of the pixel owner.
What comes next?
It is clear that the old way of collecting data is officially dead. Privacy and consumer protections are here to stay.
The solutions that we presented here only serve to fix the issues created by these updates to browsers, they will not help avoid any of the new legal regulations. The internet is entering a new age, and every company will have to grow and adapt to this new ecosystem.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
If you are doing business online and want to know how to accurately track return on investment from your online marketing efforts, then you are in the right place!
Whether you are a seasoned pro or just getting started this training is for you. I am going to show you how to overcome the #1 Mistake 90% of Companies Make When Tracking Revenue and the best part is you can get started right away!
I am AJ Yager, Chief Growth Officer and Co-founder of PraxisMetrics, a business intelligence agency that helps you escape spreadsheet hell, eliminate wasted resources, and get you accurate data you can trust to make better decisions! From tracking to dashboards, we help you scale faster.
We have worked with companies from e-commerce to retail, digital publishing, SAAS, manufacturers, VC Firms, mega churches and investment firms.
I am really excited to share this content with you today but first I want to kick this off with a quote you may or may not have heard before:
This is a very famous saying in business by the one and only Peter Drucker.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure!” – this is very important to understand, especially when marketing online.
Tracking or “measuring” is the foundation of everything in your business and will allow you to make better accurate decisions. My intention here is to help make sure that you understand this and avoid becoming part of the 90% of companies that keep making this mistake. I want you to grow exponentially from your data and tracking efforts.
So remember, Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed.
Ok, let’s dig in.
What you’ll learn-
By the time this video is done, you’ll understand:
The biggest mistakes when it comes to tracking
Removing the guesswork from ROI (Return on Investment)
Exactly what UTM’s are and how they can take your marketing data to the next level
Where (and how) to get Started
Why proper data tracking is critical to your business (and what valuable insights that data can provide)
How to build a UTM link and the most effective way to utilize them
The biggest mistakes when it comes to tracking-
One of the biggest mistakes we see too often is assuming that everything is tracking properly.
What I mean is that most companies and you may be included in this, think that everything is tracking correctly in all of the different tech systems that run their business; this is NOT TRUE.
Here is why: Simply put, many technologies have software limitations. Out of the box software set-up isn’t complete or isn’t robust enough. and many times there is such a learning curve that the person in charge of it didn’t finish setting up to track everything properly.
SOPs not established or practiced by all team members and you may be missing platforms in your tech stack.
Finally, you may be lacking cross platform UIDs , which are Unique Identifiers that help connect pieces of information in one system to another.
The point is, you simply can’t afford to invest in these technologies, if you don’t take the time to make sure they are set up to track the right data/information for your business.
The #1 most under-utilized and error prone tool we see is Google Analytics; it is very powerful when set up correctly and best of all a FREE tool that should be in your arsenal.
When it comes to Google analytics, most marketing teams don’t set it up correctly to begin with because it takes a google professional or lots of time to research; or they do get it set up but then forget about it; or worst of all, they don’t validate or test to make sure everything is tracking correctly.
They may try to use Google Analytics as a dashboard to visualize their data. There are some cool reports in GA, but it really isn’t an easy way to digest information.
Last but not least, most people simply think GA is too complicated so they don’t even try… which is totally understandable.
Now this video training isn’t focused on teaching you how to set these tools up, there are plenty of free resources out on the web for that or you can contact our team at praxismetrics.com and they can help you out.
Removing the guesswork from ROI (Return on Investment)-
Ok so now that we have covered that mistake and had a quick overview of Google Analytics, let’s talk about ROI…
The best way to start off is to reminisce back to 2005 when Google Adwords was launched. it completely changed marketing and advertising as we know it.
Google Adwords had conversion tracking which removed the guesswork from ROI. It allowed marketers and business owners to pay for online advertisements, know the exact cost of each ad click, AND know whether or not a particular ad click resulted in a sale.
It was game changing … From that moment forward began the demise of most traditional forms of advertising. And it wasn’t that online ads with conversion tracking were better marketing, it was just the simple fact that you could calculate your exact ROI that mattered.
But if you could track your ROI accurately with AdWords, why not other online marketing activities?
Social media posts?
These are all digital forms of marketing you SHOULD be tracking.
The reality is most marketers either don’t know how to do it or are too lazy to set up the systems required to do the tracking correctly. Fortunately, there’s just one tactic you need to know about to track most of your online marketing activities and own your niche.
We’ll also look at how you can apply this approach to a variety of marketing channels and how you can use various analytics tools to drive insights from your data.
As I mentioned earlier, after watching this video you’ll know how to calculate the ROI of an online marketing campaign with precision, so that you can double down on your wins and quickly cut your losses.
Now let’s talk about Why Modern Marketing Makes ROI Calculations Difficult. You’d think it’d be easy to track the ROI of an online marketing campaign, there’s a digital “paper trail” for every click, tap, and dollar earned…right? You would think that Advertisers and online marketers already have this stuff figured by now, right?
It turns out, that’s not exactly the case. And when you dig deeper, you quickly learn that calculating ROI isn’t as easy as it seems; which is a shame, because ROI used to be really easy to calculate.
But Let’s take a minute to make sure we understand the basic ROI calculation: If I spend $100,000 and I make $300,000, I can calculate easily, that I’ve made a 200% return.
Money out minus money in. That’s your typical ROI calculation. But ROI equations just aren’t that simple anymore. Especially when you consider all the marketing channels offered these days.
You’re not just going to do one form of online marketing, like just content marketing. You’re probably already doing SEO, video marketing, and affiliate marketing. You may even throw in some Facebook advertising as well. You’ll likely even give influencer marketing a try. And you should!
With modern online marketing, we have to be able to prove a return on investment for each one of those individual channels, you can’t just bundle everything into one neat figure.
If you’re spending $100 across 3 different marketing channels and you’re generating $200 – it doesn’t mean all marketing channels are ROI positive.
It could just be that one of them is dramatically over delivering, while the rest are losing you money. But if you’re not tracking marketing channels individually, you won’t be able to work out whether this is the case or not. You won’t know which steps you need to take to improve your marketing ROI.
This brings us to the #1 Mistake 90% of Companies Make When Tracking Revenue : Not using UTMs for all online marketing efforts.
Exactly what UTM’s are and how they can take your marketing data to the next level-
With all that being said, now we’re going to focus on a specific tracking model that’ll work with any number of marketing channels and analytics tools: Content marketing, social media, Instagram campaigns, emails, newsletters, drip campaigns, etc. whatever it is.
No matter what channel you’re focusing on and what analytics tool you’re using, this tactic will help you work out how people are reaching your website.
This approach works with every single analytics tool, which means that all of your analytics tools will be able to use this approach to collect data. Just remember, we MUST be able to prove an ROI from all of our channels.
UTMs – The Tracking Tweak That’ll Work for Anything and Everything-
UTM parameters (or UTMs for short) are the only way that you can track your marketing campaigns uniformly across most analytics tools. UTMs work with Google Analytics and many other tracking tools.
UTM is an abbreviation for “Urchin Tracking Module”. And “Urchin” happened to be one of the very best website analytics tools that used on-page scripts to collect visitor data.
Like a lot of great web software, Urchin was eventually acquired by Google.
A UTM is made up of five variants of URL parameters used by marketers to track the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns across traffic sources and publishing media. It is simply an encoded suffix that you append to a URL (A URL being a website link). The suffix can be 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.
This might not seem like a big deal, but it’s one of the most powerful ways to track your marketing, your sales, or any activity you’re doing online.
For a real life example, I have an email campaign from an affiliate of ours named Justin Goff. All the links within that email used specific UTM parameters so that we could measure the effectiveness of that email campaign once the traffic from that email hits the website.
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how UTMs work by examining our example URL that has a UTM appended to it.
Initially, this URL might look really complicated, but once you understand the various parts, you’ll find it’s not too difficult to understand. All in all, this example URL tells us 6 different things:
The campaign source
The campaign medium
The campaign name
The campaign content
The campaign term
Let’s drill down into more detail:
URL – The website that’s running the campaign
Campaign Source – Where the clicks come from (ex: search engine, specific website, newsletter #202, etc.)
Campaign Medium – How the link was presented to them (in a search engine result, pay-per-click ad, email, etc.)
Campaign Name – The marketing campaign the link belongs to (traditionally, marketing is done in a succession of campaigns, “Black Friday 2018” would be a campaign)
Campaign Content – The specific part of a marketing campaign got them to take action (Optional. Good for testing different ad copy or A/B testing two different emails.)
Campaign Term – The keyword used in a pay-per-click advertisement that generated the click and subsequent visit or what specific words were clicked on in an email (also optional)
This breakdown could possibly make your eyes glaze over the first time around. So stick with me.
This example URL tells us 5 different things.
The campaign source: JustinGoff
The campaign medium: email+send+LTVdashboard
The campaign name: JustinGoff
The campaign content: JustinGoffEmail
The campaign term: N/A
And honestly, there are many ways to design a system of parameters that work for your organization. The trick is sitting down and designing it – and sticking to that design from here on out. We’ll get into more on that later.
The Website URL-
The Website URL is simply the site we’re tracking.
A word of caution: The above URL is an ‘HTTPS’ URL. Before you start creating UTMs, determine whether or not your website is secure. If it’s secure, then all your URLs will be “HTTPS” by default. If they are not, then your website is not secure (HTTP). Whether your website should be secure or not is a whole other discussion for a different video.
The important thing is whether or not your website redirects from HTTP to HTTPS. If it does, that’s a good thing, but you’re going to want to make sure that you build all your URLs and respective UTMs as secure links. Otherwise, when the redirect happens, the URL might be stripped of the UTMs and this can have a negative impact on your ability to track data.
The Source Parameter-
This parameter is identifying the traffic source sending clicks your way. In the case of the example URL shown, the source is JustinGoff. The parameter happens to be designed for an affiliate of ours, but the source website is the same whether it’s organic traffic, affiliate or paid traffic.
In the particular case of Google AdWords, we sometimes recommend making the source “AdWords” because it will make it easier for you to analyze your analytics reporting later on. If you’re just going to stick to using AdWords as your only online marketing channel, then setting your source to “Google” is fine.
If I posted this link to Facebook, the URL would have Facebook (facebook.com) as the source.
Here’s an example of the different ‘source’ parameters you can use.
The Medium Parameter-
This, in essence, is how the person got to the website in question. Or in what medium the link was presented to them.
Let’s say you’re spending money on cost-per-click ads (CPC for short). The CPC ad then becomes the medium. In our example here it is email.
Here are some more examples of mediums:
The Campaign Parameter-
Campaign name generally refers to your overall marketing focus that day, week, month, season, etc. This nomenclature is derived from the fact that traditional marketing is thought of in terms of campaigns. – something that the world should know about or even an idea your marketing team would like to test.
Let’s say you’re having a summer sale. Every link you create related to that campaign should have the campaign name “summer-sale-2019.” If you have a new product release, the campaign name could be something like ‘vitamin-drink-special-2019.’
A slight word of caution: There are two routes to go down when naming your campaigns. For seasonal campaigns, you might want to be somewhat specific and use a date based format like “summer-sale-2019”.
However, for a webinar series, you might want to keep it simple like “praxis-webinar-series” and not use a date based convention.
The reason why is because when you go back to review your data in your analytics tools, it can be helpful to see ongoing campaigns in one reporting batch instead of having them spliced up into smaller campaigns.
Going back to the Summer Sale example, you could be posting the summer sale on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and even on LinkedIn. You might send out emails promoting this sale. You may even publish different pieces of blog content for it as well.
Any method you use to promote this sale online, it will all be grouped under the same campaign.
Having strict campaign names is important because it allows you to segment your data in Google Analytics via campaign names (and in other analytics tools). You can then easily assess the success of a specific campaign and gather insights for future campaigns. Most importantly, you can begin to understand the ROI of your marketing campaigns!
The Content Parameter-
This parameter identifies the specific content or written copy used in a campaign that led to someone clicking on your link and engaging with your brand.
The obvious benefit here is that it allows you to identify which copy is performing best for an individual campaign. Any conversion rate expert will tell you that testing copy alone can have the biggest performance insights when it comes to improving future marketing campaigns.
Additionally, the content parameter is helpful if you’re running a webpage A/B test. If you’re sending out multiple emails for a specific campaign, the content parameter can help you figure out which email converted better.
Suppose you send out two different emails, for the same campaign, each of which has a unique subject line. We could use the parameter ‘utm_content=a’ for all links within one email and the parameter ‘utm_content=b’ for all the links in the other email. In doing so, we can see which one of those subject lines drove the most conversions for a particular campaign. In my case here we just used JustinGoffEmail which was repetitive but it our own system.
Here are some examples of ‘content’ parameters.
Email subject lines
control or variation
It’s worth mentioning that this parameter isn’t mandatory, but in certain circumstances, it’s definitely worth using. The above example, representing such a circumstance.
The Term Parameter-
The term parameter, again, isn’t mandatory. But it can be helpful in a number of circumstances – notably PPC (pay-per-click / cost-per-click) campaigns. This parameter can help you understand the word somebody queried which in turned served your online ad to them. In most cases, it relates to the keyword used for a specific advertising campaign.
This is helpful if you’re running a advertising campaign. When people click an ad and come back to your website, you can actually see which keywords are driving the most conversions. This scenario is probably the purest and most ideal tracking process when it comes calculating accurate online marketing ROI there is – so use them!
As mentioned, using utm_term isn’t mandatory. But by having it there, you can make use of even more segmentation and be even more specific with the marketing campaigns you’re running.
For example, you may have several links within an email that you’re promoting. By identifying each link within the email with its own unique utm_term parameter, you can know which link received the most click-throughs. You’d simply make the utm_term parameter the specific link text you’re tracking.
In our situation we didn’t use the TERM parameter so I left it blank.
Important Note regarding Revenue vs. Vanity Metrics-
There are a lot of marketers in charge of email marketing campaigns that’ll say — “hey, I got a 34 percent open rate. I got a 52 percent click-through rate. This email did amazing!!”
If one of my team members in the marketing department said that in my business – I’d look at them and be extremely concerned.
Yes, I do want to know how many people opened the email and I do want to know how many people clicked on the email… but let’s be real, we are in business to make money and deliver great value to our customers, so we MOSTLY care about how many people purchased. How effective was this campaign!?
If I can’t connect email clicks back to actual purchases, that’s a problem. If I can’t connect email clicks back to monthly recurring revenue, I’m even more concerned.
If you take one thing from this video, let it be this: Make sure you’re using UTMs to measure important business metrics so you can know the actual return on investment from your online marketing activities. Don’t get caught up in vanity metrics.
How to build a UTM link and the most effective way to utilize them-
At a quick glance, UTMs look really complicated; so complicated in fact, that you might be worried about how you’re going to go about creating them. Fortunately, they’re not that hard to create.
For starters, Google has their own built in tool you can use. There are also some other tools we suggest which you can go check out at praxismetrics.com/tracking-tools
Back to the Google URL builder…. This tool is really easy to use and all you have to do is put your chosen parameters in the relevant fields. Notice all the elements that we talked about are all here ready for you to fill out.
Links that use UTM codes can look pretty messy. UTM links also reveal a lot of information about your marketing, this can mean competitors have access to vital campaign data. Some customers can also be wary of links that are long and complicated. Because of this, it’s a good idea to hide the UTM parameters.
We can do this using a link shortener like Bit.ly. And goo.gl
This is a really simple tool you can use to shorten your URLs. Bit.ly also provides click tracking, which provides further data on your campaigns. Here’s a simple example of how Bit.ly works:
Once you put a link through Bit.ly, you’ll notice that the links a lot shorter and neater. This is all possible without harming the UTM parameters and your ability to track UTM data within analytics tools.
One of the most often asked questions is… How do you make sure to stay organized so everyone uses the same UTM tagging system?
This is a common problem. Especially if you’re on a team of several people and everyone is working on a specific campaign.
Let’s look at a classic example of where this becomes a problem: Valentines campaigns. Valentines campaigns are wonderful at driving marketing managers insane. It’s an annual marketing campaign and of course you’re going to want to use UTMs to track your ROI and performance.
Then the inevitable happens: One team member spells the full word “valentines” out for the campaign parameter. Another team member spells it “Valentines”. Another team member spells it “vday”. So you’d have:
utm_campaign=valentines utm_campaign=Valentines utm_campaign=vday All of these would appear as separate UTMs. Meaning the campaign data would be segmented into three different campaigns by your analytics tools. Don’t let this happen.
How do you prevent this?-
What we recommend is to build out an organized spreadsheet that your team uses and follows carefully!
Remember, your output is only as good as your input! – this is where your tracking SOPs really matters!
The end result is reporting or seeing your data in dashboards: Your dashboards and reporting will NOT BE ACCURATE Your dashboards and reporting will NOT BE CLEAR
When you shouldn’t use UTMs-
There’s one specific case where you should never, EVER use UTMs: when creating internal links on your website.
Most website analytic tools like Google Analytics are designed to help you understand what’s happening on your website by default. There is no need for you to code up unique UTMs to help you understand what’s going on.
If you start using UTMs to link to various parts of your website, you can artificially multiply session counts and trigger all kinds of negative elements that will corrupt your analytics reporting.
Alright well we have covered a lot of ground so far, now it’s time to wrap up and give you actions to go and do!
UTMs are the only way you can know the true ROI of your online marketing activities. If you’re doing business online, you have no choice but to use them.
And you should be really grateful that UTMs exist! It’s a blessing to be able to finally get this critical information. It doesn’t cost anything really, it’s just a matter of taking the time to create a UTM system that works for you. It can be challenging to design a perfect UTM system that will work for your organization right out of the box. It’s an iterative process.
You may make some mistakes along the way in order to figure out a system that works well for you. It may take hours looking over your analytics reports and dashboards for you to finally see what conventions make sense for your monthly reporting.
There’s no way around this reality other than getting your hands dirty. So go do it!
We recommend getting a whiteboard and begin mapping out your UTM system with your team. Determine your sources, mediums, how you want to use the content and term parameters.
Ask yourself, how do you want to incorporate UTMs for running A/B tests? Do you want to use utm_term for specific text within emails?
This will help collaboration will help you chisel out a great ROI tracking system that you can use for years to come.
Get started now and use a UTM link with your next post or in your next email and test it out!
UTMs Can Take Your Marketing to the Next Level-
All channels and all analytics tools work with UTMs.
When you start doing this you’ll have better data on your marketing campaigns. You can then use this data to track the return on investment for any of your marketing campaigns.
Without UTMs, it’s going to be a lot harder to make definitive claims about your marketing campaigns, I know that for a fact.
Sure, you’ll make some mistakes at first, but once you get the hang of things, you’ll wonder what the heck you were doing before using UTMs.
If you’re interested in learning more about UTM’s and how to build them, we have a wonderful course (https://datarich.thinkific.com/) that will teach you exactly how to create and utilize UTM’s in your marketing efforts.
Again my name is AJ Yager at PraxisMetrics.com and thank you for investing your time here with me today. Please connect with me 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.
Want to know the #1 reason most companies can’t attribute where revenue is coming from accurately?
Spoiler alert: It’s all about UTM’s.
Are you using UTM’s for all your marketing efforts? Have no idea what a UTM is?
No matter where you are in your tracking journey, this video can help you learn how to improve your tracking skills. We have also included a transcript of some of the best insights from our conversation below:
How can I make sure that I am being data driven in my business?
You need to take emotion out of your decision making process if you really want to become a data-driven company. Often the climate of the business has a huge impact on our lives, so it’s often difficult to separate your emotions from the decisions that you make, especially during the hard times. When the times are the toughest are generally when you need to be the most data-driven, and those are the hardest times to take emotion out of the equation; but if you do, it will help you to trust your decision-making process much more.
Your data will always tell you a story; it just sometimes tells a story that you don’t want to hear. Often we find that people stop listening to their data when it gets hard, or right when the details are becoming the most important; but those are the times when you need to listen to the story that it’s telling you even more.
What are lead indicators vs lag indicators?
What does lead indicator or lag indicator mean? A lead indicator drives a lag indicator. In sales, a lag indicator would be their revenue, or number of sales made. Sales people really don’t have direct control over how many sales that they make in a day, but they do have control over their lead indicator: how many calls they make that day. Content marketers don’t have direct control over how many website visits they get in a day, but they do have control over how many blog posts or emails they write.
Control what you can control. You almost always have direct control over your lead indicators. Focusing your efforts on improving the things that you have control over will always yield better results than focusing on the things that you have no control over. Everyone wants more leads and more revenue, but you need to drill down and find the things that drive that success.
In order to understand what drives your success, you need to have tracking in place. Once you know that your data is trustworthy, you can drill into it and find exactly what yields results in your business, and those become your lead indicators. By replicating your successes and holding yourself accountable to your lead indicators, you will drive success on your lag indicators. It’s all about accountability. If you hold yourself accountable to your lead indicators, you will drive that success on the lag indicators.
How do I make sure that I am tracking my lead indicators properly?
Your output is only as good as your input. Every business wants to know how they can be more effective. We have found that most of them don’t even have the right tracking in place in order to even find their lead indicators though. Most businesses have several systems in place that aggregate data, but then those systems don’t talk to one another, and the company isn’t sure where to go to get answers to their questions. Facebook will tell you that they are getting X number of conversions per day, Adwords will claim that they produced Y result, and Google Analytics will tell you something totally different from each of those.
The best place to start with tracking is at the very beginning. Before you ever create a piece of content, you need to know the intent of that content. Once you know the job of that content, you can hold it accountable to how well it performed the task. If the goal of your ad was to promote awareness, then you don’t need to look at how many conversions it produced. If the goal of the ad was to drive form submissions, then the number of likes on the post isn’t really important.
How does Metrics Mapping help my tracking efforts?
We here at Praxis like to go through a thought experiment known as Metrics Mapping. Metrics Mapping is a process designed to answer fundamental business questions with very specific, actionable data.
We start by asking ourselves a business question, such as, “How do we increase conversions on our site?” or “How do we get more qualified traffic to our site?”.
Once we know the questions that we want to answer, we decide on 3 key performance indicators that help answer that business question.
Then we ask: “Where does that data live?”. For every KPI, we need a source of truth, or a place where we can pull that data from.
From there, we validate the data. As much as we would love to just trust what Facebook or Google tells us, there are a million and one ways that your data can be skewed, lost, or misreported along the journey.
After that, we apply formulas, set up reporting, and visualize the data.
This process may seem tedious and difficult, but it makes all of the difference in making sure that you don’t waste your time on vanity metrics or tracking things that don’t really matter.
What are UTM’s and what do they have to do with everything that we have talked about?
As we talked about earlier, you don’t have direct control over lag indicators; you can only influence lag indicators through your lead indicators. On the other hand, you have complete control over your lead indicators; but most people don’t know which lead indicators have the most influence on the outcomes of the lag indicators. That’s where UTM’s come in. UTM’s allow you to trace your lag indicators all the way back to the initial lead indicators that generated the result.
UTM’s pass through specific information to help you attribute exactly where traffic came from. Not only do UTM’s help you create accurate source data, they can also contain information such as if it was a paid ad or an organic post that drove the user to your page. They can also contain campaign information, so you can know the effectiveness of your campaigns; they can even help you track your A/B testing efforts within the campaign.
This granularity on the data unleashes the true power of your lead indicators. By knowing exactly what influences your customers to come to you, you can focus on the things that will actually drive the lag indicators, rather than blindly guessing at the most effective use of your time and money.
It all comes down to what works, and tracking is the only way to know what truly works best.
Big data, like Google Analytics, eCommerce, SaaS solutions, social media insights, etc., is everywhere. Needless to say, the influx of information can be overwhelming, and ignoring it could make you lose out on an increase in sales, client retention and more. Regardless of industry or size, all businesses can benefit from the value big data can provide. So how can you harness the power of big data and get to what is most relevant for your business, and how can businesses interpret this data to gain an edge in an increasingly saturated marketplace? The key is distilling that data in such a way as to answer your most pressing business questions.