How ecommerce companies can use data for better decision-making

How ecommerce companies can use data for better decision-making

Data is now the most valuable resource on the planet.

If you’ve read any of our other recent blog posts, you’re probably aware of the fact that data recently surpassed oil as the most valuable resource on Earth. While that came as a shock to some, to others this has been a long time coming.

Studies show that data-driven businesses are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, 6 times as likely to retain those customers, and 19 times as likely to be profitable.

As businesses have realized the value of data, the demand for more and more consumer data has exploded. Despite the general acknowledgement of the value of data, it’s estimated that 60-73% of data collected isn’t used in decision-making.

In this post I’ll cover a couple of ways that you can leverage data to make better decisions in your ecommerce business.

Understand your customers

Most marketers understand the importance of using data to drive their marketing decisions. The problem that most marketers face is getting accurate data that they can trust in order to make the right decisions. So that’s where we’ll start.

Overattribution

Truly the bane of every marketer’s existence, over-attribution is a constant in today’s marketing landscape. An example of over-attribution would be when you look at Facebook and they claim to have generated $10K in sales, and then you look at Google and they claim to have created $10K in sales, but you only had $15K worth of sales in that period.

Over-attribution occurs for a myriad of reasons. One of the primary reasons that it can occur is that the different ad platforms utilize different conversion reporting. Facebook currently utilizes a 28-day click and 1-day view conversion window. That means that if someone clicked on your Facebook ad and then came back and purchased from you within 28 days, they claim 100% responsibility for that sale. Google, on the other hand, utilizes a last-click attribution model. That means that they award 100% of the credit for the sale to the last click that someone used before purchasing.

UTMs

There are many solutions to solving over-attribution, but none are perfect. The first solution that we always recommend is UTMs.

UTMs are pieces of tracking information that you can append to a URL in order to improve your tracking. These can help you see exactly what ads, emails, or blog posts people clicked on in order to get to your site.

UTMs are amazing for increasing the granularity of your tracking and allow improved insights into what efforts actually drove people to your site. Unfortunately though, they don’t completely solve the issue of over-attribution. While they will allow you to see exactly what ads drove people to your site, you still have to deal with the different attribution windows in your reporting.

Multi-touch attribution

The best solution to the over-attribution problem is, unfortunately, also one of the more complicated ones. Multi-touch attribution most accurately reflects the client journey across platforms. By tracking the clients journey, these models can assign a portion of the total sale revenue to each platform that took part in the client’s journey. The reason that these can get complicated is because you need to model and decide how you want to assign credit to each platform.

Some of the more popular models that people use are: time decay, which allows you to decrease the amount of credit given to each touch point based off how long ago that happened; position based, which assigns 33% of the credit to both the first and last touch points, and then distributes the remaining 33% equally across the other touch points; the final option that we want to cover here is linear, which just assigns equal weight across every touch point.

Both UTMs and multi-touch attribution have their place in a marketers tool chest. We always recommend using UTMs, and multi-touch attribution can help with more advanced marketing initiatives.

Purchasing behaviors

Once you know where your customers come from, the next thing that you need to know is what they’re buying from you. Thankfully most ecommerce platforms readily provide this information. The important metrics to look at here are: average order value (AOV), lifetime value (LTV), and repurchase rates. Additionally, you should examine each of these metrics through the lens of how different products affect them.

In the early stages of a business, AOV is extremely important. We’ll cover more on this later, but the important thing to note is that if you can keep your cost per acquisition (CPA) below your AOV then you’ll always drive a profit off your ads. This will allow you to scale your advertising, and your company with it.

As you grow more advanced in your tracking and data, LTV becomes more and more important. As you grow in your understanding of LTV, AOV begins to matter less. Rather than worrying about driving a profit off the initial purchase, you can take a loss up front. Knowing the lifetime value of your clients gives you more freedom and flexibility in the acquisition of clients. This can lead to explosive results, just see what it did for Danette May:

The final important metric that you need to know about your customers ties in with AOV, and that’s repurchase rates. If you know when your clients will come back and repurchase from you, then you can accurately chart how long it will take for you to break even on your ads. Even more importantly, charting this metric over time allows you to see how your post-purchase marketing efforts affect your customers.

Understand your costs

In addition to understanding your customer behavior, you need to understand your operational behavior. We talked a lot about acquisition costs and advertising costs in the previous sections, but another important cost is the cost of goods sold (COGS).

In order to determine an acceptable CPA, you need to know what the costs of your business are.

Every business has their own view on how they calculate this metric. Some choose to include their operational costs in their COGS. Some only roll in the marketing costs, but not the salaries of the team. You need to determine the costs associated with the products that you sell in order to properly decide on acceptable margins.

Once you know the margins that your business needs in order to operate properly, then you can appropriately decide on your allowable CPA.

Tracking these metrics will allow you greater insight into your business and customers. Armed with this data, you can create exponential growth.

Praxis Metrics data ownership

The importance of data ownership

In this episode of the Data Rich show, AJ is joined by Kevin Brkal the president and founder of KNB Online Inc.

We talk through attribution models, ad spend, and how to protect your data through data ownership.

Check out our insights and conversation below:

Data- Amazing, but creepy

Kevin’s agency focuses on Facebook ads. The reason that they chose this as their platform is because of the Facebook audience network. Lots of different sites use the Facebook Ads network to sell ad space on their websites.

When it comes to the mobile web, any apps that collect real time data most likely use or sell that data. They can track your location and establish geo-fencing and geo-targeting to hyper target you as a consumer. It often freaks people out when they start to see ads for things that they think shouldn’t have a digital trail, but any number of apps on your phone could theoretically track that information on you.

As people get more and more creeped out by the things about them that are tracked, we see platforms cracking down on the things that can be tracked. The question that we naturally want to answer is how will this affect marketing.

Find a strategy that works for you

Before the internet, marketers still reached their target market. While we may not have access to as much information as before, you can still get mountains of data.

While browsers crack down on the data that marketers can access, no one is looking at location data being shared. Search engines also still sell randomized user data as well, so marketers shouldn’t panic just yet.

The primary victim of the data crackdown

Attribution modeling will get more difficult as browsers cut down on the amount of data that they share. This leaves marketers to rely more heavily on last-click attribution, or just saturate their markets with ads. The business who can afford to spend the most to acquire their customers always wins, but this may become even more important in the future.

Attribution is already a mess, but as browsers continue to limit the amount of data that you can gather on customers, it will only get worse. This change increases the confusion that ecommerce companies will have to deal with. Businesses just need to just gather as much data as possible to make an informed decision.

The solution:

As we talked about previously, the best way to combat the confusion is to gather as much data as possible.

One of the best way to increase your data is to leverage UTMs. UTMs are free tools that everyone can use to increase the amount of data that you can gather. They allow you to create custom tracking parameters to gain better insights into your customers.

From there, you need to track your data in as many sources as possible. Facebook Pixels, Google Analytics, the back end of your ecommerce store; all of them track data differently. But if you have all of that data tracked, then on the back end a data company can extract the data and figure out the truth for you.

Another thing that you can do is alter the attribution models that you use in your tracking systems. Facebook defaults to a 28-day click window, and a 1-day view-through window. You can alter this window to better match your preferred attribution modeling.

Attribution modeling

In today’s marketing landscape, there is no limit to the number of touch points that you can have with your customer. The trouble that most businesses run into is deciding how they want to attribute back to the touch points across the journey.

Google Analytics defaults to a last-click attribution model. This means that the thing that drove them to your site the time that they converted gets complete credit for the sale. Facebook has an attribution window, in the which it claims full credit if a sale occurs in that window. The trick that marketers need to use is a blended model.

Adidas recently stopped their branding campaigns in favor of campaigns that seemed to be driving their sales, based off last click attribution models. They quickly discovered that the branding campaigns that they were running warmed their customers enough to click on the direct response campaign and purchase. Based off the data that they looked at, they thought that they made the right choice to cut the branding campaigns.

Data ownership

The most important thing that companies need to do when working with an agency is make sure that you’re owning your data. Whatever agency you work with, you need to make sure that they create the ads under your account and that they track with your pixel. The reason for this is that then you own that data. If you allow them to run the ads under their umbrella or with their pixel, then they own the data. In the event of a dissolution of the partnership, they could sell that data to your competitors.

Regardless of who you work with, it’s extremely important to own your data. Many ecommerce companies have started to move away from Amazon, because Amazon owns all of the data on its platform. As Kevin correctly pointed out, Amazon can take the data that they gather on your customers, and the things that they purchase from you. From there, they can recreate your product under their umbrella and force you out of your own market. It wouldn’t be the first time that they did.

Businesses have finally begun to recognize the value of data, as data has just surpassed oil as the most valuable resource on the planet. Businesses have begun to recognize the value of owning their data from top to bottom.

Take action from your data

Once you own your data, the next important thing to do is take action from it.

In order to know what actions to take, you need to know what your primary objective is. If you’re an ecommerce company, you likely want to increase sales. B2B companies likely want to increase leads. The important metrics that everyone should track are the cost per acquisition (CPA) or cost per lead (CPL). From there you want to calculate your return on ad spend (ROAS). If you’re looking at generating leads, it’s important to know how much it costs for you to turn a lead into a customer, or your conversion rates from leads to customers. Once you know that, you can find the lifetime value of those customers (LTV). If you have your LTV and your conversion rates, then you can reverse engineer your allowable CPL.

Don’t take too quick of action though

With all data, it’s important to find as many sources of validation as you can. In this hyper-connected world, it’s unfortunately easy to have skewed data; as this commercial points out:

Many analytics systems fail to recognize refreshes on thank you pages, which can dramatically skew your data. At Praxis, we have found that the best way to stop this is by creating a first party cookie that loads into the user’s browser the first time that they visit the thank you page. From there, you can update your tags to only fire in the event that the cookie is not present in the browser. Obviously, this still isn’t a perfect solution to the problem, but it can reduce the negative effects of over-attribution.

The most important metrics

Kevin has found ROAS to be the most important KPI in his business. Anyone who runs ads obviously wants to turn a profit on those ads, so it is very important to make sure that you track your ROAS.

Regardless of the metrics that you measure, the most important thing that you can do with data is validate. Track everything through multiple systems, don’t put your trust in any one. At the end of the day, these platforms want you to spend more money with them, so they will skew the data in their favor.

Data can be overwhelming at first, but it is your friend. Data will help your business scale and grow faster than anything else. AJ pointed out that you need a relationship with your data. The more time you spend with your data, the more in sync you can get with it. The better attuned you are to shifts in the data, the faster you can react to sudden changes or opportunities.

If you need help with Facebook advertising, Kevin is a great resource and can be reached at kevinbrkal.com

How to use data to create the lifestyle you want

How to use data to create the lifestyle you want.

We wanted to visit a topic that we haven’t really covered here on our blog before, so this week, we’re focusing on how to use data in your life. In this episode of the Stay Grounded Podcast, we’ll cover how to use data to improve your health, love, and overall wellness.

Check out the full podcast episode below as well as our insights.

How did the data-driven journey start for Meaghan and AJ?

Meaghan likes to joke that she was born with a spreadsheet in her hand. Her parents were computer nerds, so she grew up in a very analytical household. She used spreadsheets to map out her homework and assignments in school, and in college she created a weighted spreadsheet to decide what kind of TV she should buy for herself.

AJ on the other hand, focused on intuition and feelings. He tended to go more with his gut instincts, and then use data to examine the outcomes of those decisions. AJ’s grandfather taught him at an early age to always learn something new and develop himself, so he read voraciously and learned from other’s wisdom. AJ’s father was an engineer, so he learned how to be detail oriented from his dad, and then his mother was more of the social butterfly. AJ found a way to merge all of the best attributes from each of those influences in order to maximize his capabilities.

AJ’s dad helped him to see the importance of data early on, as they used data to track KPIs from across the farm. Meaghan wanted to teach calculus from an early age, so data came pretty naturally to her.

Their perspective on data

Despite what many people think, data is not something to be feared. Data is just another term for information. The more information that you have at your disposal, the more knowledge you have. The more knowledge you accumulate, the more likely that you can turn that knowledge into wisdom. Data doesn’t belong in some dark corner. Data affects and impacts every portion of our lives. By leveraging data, you can better understand your health and spirituality; it can help you plan out travels. Data helps you to spot patterns and trends. Once you see the patterns and trends, you can start to drill down into the why. Once you understand the principles that explain why and how things happen, you can begin to harness that to create the outcomes that you want.

The trick to becoming data driven is learning how to ask questions. Once you learn how to ask the right questions and find data to answer those questions, you can find new questions to deepen your understanding even further. Anyone can become data-driven, regardless of their background. People who failed math class can find truth in data. The secret to data is simply asking questions, seeking out the answers, and then taking action from it.

How do AJ and Meaghan balance data with intuition?

This is technically a trick question, because intuition is entirely based off data. While many view intuition as a gut feeling or a hunch, intuition actually relies on data, but your brain has processed the data in a manner that you didn’t notice, so you don’t recognize all of the data that went into that feeling. Intuition developed within us since the age of the cavemen.  If you think about it practically, the cavemen who recognized danger the fastest survived, while those who took too long to process that information probably got eaten. Those who survived passed this trait on to their offspring, and we carry that with us today.

How do you deal with outdated information that can feed your intuition?

The key to removing outdated information is exposing yourself to more information. The more information that you can get, the more likely that you can replace outdated or incomplete information with better, updated information. You can do this through travel, exposure to different ideas, cultures, norms, etc. The more data that you can gather, the more likely you are to have accurate data.

How do Meaghan and AJ find the data points that actually move the needle?

For businesses-

For businesses, we have a process that we go through called Metrics Mapping. This helps businesses find the metrics that will actually move the needle for them.

Praxis Metrics- Metrics Mapping Process

As shown in the image above, the process of Metrics Mapping starts with your business goals and objectives. In this example, the business wants to double their year-over-year revenue.

Once you know what you want to accomplish, you need to ask what questions you have about how you’ll reach that goal. In our example, they need to know what sources get them the best conversion rates on the site.

From there, you need to think through what metrics can help answer the questions that you came up with. In this case, the business needs to know their conversion rates for different funnels, their total traffic and where it came from, the results of their various split tests, and their ROI for each advertising medium.

Once you know what metrics you need, it’s time to find the source of truth for each of those metrics. The source of truth is the place where you can get the most accurate information on that metric. In the case of our example, traffic and traffic sources would come from Google Analytics (GA), Shopify could help us understand the funnel conversion rates and the ROI, etc.

The rest of the metrics mapping process can then be carried out from there to help you better visualize and interpret the data.

For individuals-

As an individual, you need to start this process by understanding your values. From there, it’s important to understand your personal data. You need to find the data points that matter for you as an individual.

If health is important to you, then you need to get as much information on that as you can. Get your blood and genetics tested for markers to see what things can drive the most impact for your body. Everyone has a different makeup, so it’s important to understand what does and doesn’t work for us personally, rather than following a trend or influencer.

The key to moving the needle is to create a feasibility quadrant. This graph (pictured below) allows you to map out the different options available to you in terms of difficulty and likely value. By creating this graph, you can prioritize your actions on things that provide the most benefit at the lowest cost to you. After that, we recommend focusing on the other things that were considered highly valuable, but difficult to achieve. As you have completed the low hanging fruit, hopefully, the other high-value prospects have shifted to become more feasible. From there, you can move on to the things that provide less results, but are still simple to do.

Praxis Metrics Feasibility Quadrant

How do you find the right questions to ask?

The easiest place to get started is to ask yourself where you are now. Start to analyze where you stand currently, and figure out the areas of your life where you want to do better, and where you want more. The main resources that we have in our lives are time, energy, and money. If you can find where you currently use those items, you can assess if those match your life priorities. If they don’t, then you have your questions lined up for you. “What do I want to change?” “How can I change it?” “Where to I want to get to?”. From there, you map out your steps on the feasibility quadrant and start working on it.

The trick to this whole process is attaching everything to a higher purpose of what you want in life. If you can tie your goals to a larger purpose, that will help you during the tough times. Once you have found the things that you want to accomplish, rate how happy you are with your current state. From there, you can find the things that you want to improve upon and then follow the paths laid out above.

Why is it so difficult to be honest with ourselves?

Meaghan and AJ’s theory on why it’s difficult to be honest with ourselves is because it’s painful. No one wants to admit to themselves that they have areas that they need to improve. That wounds the ego. Everyone has a version of themselves built up in their own head. Other people have other versions or variations of you built in their heads. Receiving feedback contrary to the image of yourself that you have built up in your head is difficult. Especially if that feedback is coming from yourself. But the only way to grow properly is to find the areas that you need to improve and then work towards a goal.

Meaghan has found that the best way for her to find the true version of herself is to look at her calendar and her bank account. Where she spends her time and her money tell her what she actually prioritizes.

Too often we create a vision of ourselves in our lives and in our business, and then only pay attention to things that fit that vision of ourselves or our business.

What areas of life to AJ and Meaghan recommend optimizing?

Love-

Many people don’t view love as something that you can quantify. Meaghan and AJ live to disprove that theory. They track multiple facets of their relationship in order to make sure that they each get the most out of it as possible.

The primary things that they decided to focus on were: growing apart, money problems, and sex.

In order to prevent growing apart, they studied each other’s love languages. This allows them to express affection and love in a way that the other will best receive it. Across their relationship, they correlations across the times when they fought. This correlation helped them realize that the reason that they were fighting was because AJ wasn’t getting enough of his love languages. Meaghan rectified this by adding in reminders on her phone to go and give AJ love according to his love languages every day.

Health-

Obviously, there are millions of metrics that you can use to measure your health. AJ and Meaghan track most of them. While we can’t go into too much detail on these things here, we do go into great detail on some of the most impactful tests that they have done here.

Business-

How you do one thing, is how you do everything. Life is messy, things run together. So the habits that you establish in your relationship and with your health can translate into the way that you run your business. The same issues that we talked about earlier with honesty can impact you in business. However, this isn’t always the case. People can be extremely successful in certain aspects of business where they fail in their normal lives.

How can you stay grounded in life?

AJ-

AJ uses his mornings to ground himself. He starts by writing in a gratitude journal, then meditates, and then drinks some water. If he dives right into the business side of things without taking this time in the morning, the day gets away from him.

Meaghan-

Meaghan uses travel to keep herself grounded. She and AJ plan out times during their year when they will be on the road. They’re not vacationing, just traveling and working remotely. That helps Meaghan to feel connected and new.

How to get the most out of your ad spend this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

How to get the most out of your ad spend this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

We’re down to the wire when it comes to Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2019. Because of the way that Thanksgiving fell this year, the holiday sales cycle is compressed and shortened. This compression has already had tremendous impacts on ecommerce businesses this month. Ecommerce companies across the spectrum are struggling to get traffic and conversions out of their standard ad spends.

In this post, we’ll walk through ways that you can leverage data to help you maximize your ROI and ROAS. While we’re focusing on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, these tips and this information is applicable year-round.

How to make sure that you maximize your ROI this Black Friday-

The first step to maximizing your returns is making sure that you have data.

That means getting your tracking in order. Lots of business owners and marketers put tracking off. It’s a common impulse.

Tracking takes time and it feels tedious to set up triggers and events for everything on your site; but no one can make up historical data. If you don’t set up your tracking until you’ve already been in business for 5 years, you will miss out on 5 years of data and insights.

Even waiting to start until after the holidays will cause you to miss out on potential insights into how you can better capture and serve your customers.

We recommend that everyone do a quick audit of their tracking systems to establish where they are now. Some of the things to check in this audit are:

  • Do your UTMs all track properly across your customer journey?
  • Are your UTMs organized in a way that makes sense and actually helps you better understand your customers?
  • Can you see right now where your traffic is coming from, and which traffic converts the best?

If you can’t answer yes to all of those questions, then you won’t be able to get nearly as much out of your Black Friday data.

As we talked about earlier, you can’t analyze what you don’t have. So if you don’t have your tracking set up before Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you won’t be able to know what you can do to improve your results next year.

Moving into UTMs, you NEED to make sure to track all of your marketing efforts with UTMs. They can help you track variations on ads, help with split testing, and give you clarity into what marketing efforts actually drive results for your business.

Step two to maximizing your returns is reviewing your data.

If you already have UTMs in place and feel confident in your tracking, then you can take the next few weeks to review your data. Look at what has worked for you in the past: analyze which emails have the best open and click-through rates, check which ads yield the highest ROAS, what buttons drive the highest cart values, etc.

Too often we get caught up in our plans for the future. We get locked in a cycle of what we want to test next, and we forget to look at what we’ve done in the past that worked. Those that fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. If you don’t go back and review your data, you could potentially miss out on huge, easy wins for your business.

As we talked about earlier, Black Friday being pushed back a week has changed the face of the buying season. Many ecommerce companies are in full-blown panic mode right now because their year-over-year revenues are way down from last year.

We suggest that rather than making month-to-month or day-to-day comparisons, look at your data through the lense of days before Black Friday. So, if today was 5 days before Black Friday, you could compare it to 5 days before Black Friday last year. Then you can start to analyze what your marketing efforts looked like on that day last year, what worked, what KPI’s you saw success in, and how those impacted sales on Black Friday.

We recommend focusing on driving traffic to your site, and getting them browsing your products. Then you can leverage retargeting to reach them during your Black Friday sale and focus on driving them to purchase.

What metrics you can use to get a leg up this Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Now, we want to switch gears and talk about what metrics specifically you should analyze and track to make sure that you have the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday possible.

Average Order Value (AOV)-

This one seems basic, and it is, but we see ecommerce companies forget about this frequently during this time of the year.

Most companies focus on their profitability and the discount rates around this time of the year. That should be a top priority, but you also need to make sure that you have your upsell flows, recommended products, and bundles in order to make sure that your AOV doesn’t tank. While you may want to focus on client acquisition, you still need to make sure that these new customers provide value to your business.

This is one of the primary metrics that you should review from last year. Explore what bundles drove higher cart values, what products drove cross-sales, and what upsell flows performed best for your business.

Promo Code effectiveness-

This seems like a no-brainer, and hopefully you already have examined this data. Looking back at what discounts you ran last year and seeing what worked, what failed, and what fizzled will help inform you as to what you should do this year.

In addition to just looking at the surface-level of this metric, we recommend that you deep-dive into when your customers used your different codes, what time of day they purchased, what the AOV was based off discount code, and what was the average discount per code.

Inventory-

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are some of the worst possible times to run out of inventory. Obviously you can’t perfectly predict this year based off last year, but by examining your historical data and comparing that with this year’s demand, you can get a better feel for how much you need to order.

Staffing-

Many ecommerce companies neglect to factor staffing into their costs. During this time of increased demand, lots of businesses need to bring on extra help; but they fail to account for this increased cost in their cost of goods sold.

Not accounting for this can easily turn your sale from an asset to a liability. Typically, as you increase sales, you also increase the amount of customer service tickets that you receive. If you don’t have the bandwidth in place for that you may need to bring on additional support, but they may not get fully trained in time. Additionally, the increased wait time to have issues resolved can cost you sales.

If you don’t have a solid plan in place, issues can sneak up and turn your holiday into a nightmare.

Lifetime Value of Customers (LTV)-

One of the biggest dangers that businesses face during this holiday season is acquiring unprofitable customers. Many businesses run loss-leader deals in order to acquire new customers and think that they’ll make up the loss sometime down the line.

Without tracking the lifetime value of those customers over time, you’re stuck guessing about their profitability. We have dealt with clients who offered discounts in order to acquire new customers, believing that they would make it back over time, only to discover later that they had overestimated the value of those customers. They thought that these new customers drove their profitability, but as it turned out, they dragged down profitability.

In order to maximize the effectiveness of your Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing efforts, you need to understand what these clients purchase initially, what they come back to purchase, and when they come back to purchase. If you understand those three things, you can tailor your marketing efforts to their natural buying tendencies and dramatically increase your effectiveness.

Going through last year’s data and then looking at this year’s plan and making sure that they align is the key to a successful Black Friday.

How to leverage pre-Black Friday sales to your advantage-

We have found that if you can give your clients a juicy enough discount code, you can entice them to spend their money with you even if they know that they’ll likely get a better discount later. Some of the larger retailers have decided to just launch their official Black Friday deals before the official holiday.

You could also promote your pre-Black Friday sale exclusively to your email list. This provides value to those who have signed up for the list, and could entice others to sign up.

We have also tested the tactic of offering a sale before the holiday by pitching it as a way for the customer to make sure that they got their orders on time. If they took advantage of this sale before the holiday rush, they could get a good deal, and also avoid the hassle of holiday shipping issues.

How real-time reporting can increase your ROI this Black Friday-

Tracking and reviewing your data make up the first two pillars of your data temple. The third pillar is automation.

In today’s world, every system tracks one specific thing, and it refuses to share that information with any other platform. Because nothing communicates, it falls to humans to aggregate and gather all of the data together. It can take days or even weeks for people to pull together the data, get it placed in the right location for analysis, and then take action from it.

Praxis Metrics specializes in automating the process of gathering the data from all of the different systems where it lives, cleaning it so that all of the metrics align properly, and then visualizing it in real-time.

This real-time reporting allows you to adjust and tweak your efforts much faster than if you relied on manual reporting. This decreased time to insights allows you to experiment and improve your marketing much faster, allowing you to drive immediate results, rather than having to wait a full year to improve your strategy.

The goal this Black Friday and Cyber Monday-

The goal of this entire process is to help you have the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday possible. If you have set up your tracking properly, you should know where your best customers come from and what efforts drove those customers to your ecommerce site. These insights will allow you to double down on the things that actually drive results, and cut the things that didn’t work for you. You can reallocate your budget from the things that didn’t drive results to the things that do drive results, allowing you to increase your ROI, and bringing in more money that you can then reinvest into the marketing efforts that are actually working.

How can you assess your data maturity to understand next steps?

We always start with an audit of where you stand. In order to understand your next step, you need to understand where you are.

Even if you have set up your tracking previously, we recommend an audit. As your website grows and you make additions and changes to it, you can easily break your tracking, or miss out on tracking valuable insights.

Praxis Metrics Data Maturity Spectrum

Stage 1-

If you fall into stage one, your entire goal is to gather as much information as possible. You can do this through Google Analytics, UTMs, defining your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and above all else, create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). If you can standardize your naming conventions for UTMs, SKUs, etc., you can save yourself hours of cleanup down the line.

Stage 2-

If you fall into stage two, your focus is on automation. What compound interest is to your money, automation is to your time. We have had clients cut the number of man-hours required to complete a data project from 10 hours per month to 1. Automation allows you to scale your efficiency and effectiveness across the board.

Stage 3-

The focus of stage three is optimization. Everything before this point deals with historical data. Optimization leverages the wisdom and knowledge gained from the previous stages and applies it to your future endeavors. This allows you to predict outcomes from your actions. This stage is where the magic truly happens. Your efforts yield predictable, exponential results, allowing you to rapidly scale your business.

Stage 4-

Stage four is the buzzword stage. This stage focuses on leveraging AI, machine learning, etc. These technologies allow you to improve your business at scale through incremental adjustments.

In conclusion-

No matter where you fall on the data maturity spectrum, Praxis Metrics is here to help. We offer free data roadmaps and coaching, analytics audits, dashboarding solutions, etc. If you want to learn more about Praxis Metris, visit praxismetrics.com or drop a line here.

How to take advantage of your data as a small business

How to take advantage of your data as a small business

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.

ETL

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.

Get help

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

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.

If you need help with more of the advanced data issues that they discussed, check out our business intelligence tools and dashboards.

Using data to drive business growth

Using data to drive business growth

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

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

Data is the fuel for business success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can’t create data from scratch

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

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

More is better when it comes to tracking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wrapping up the foundation level

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

Stage 2: Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A positive data-driven decision

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

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

A negative data-driven decision

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tools won’t solve your problems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Praxis Metrics- Major data privacy changes- What you need to know

Major data privacy changes- What you need to know

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.

Legislation

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?

Praxis Metrics- GDPR

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.

Corporate regulation

Apple

Praxis Metrics- Safari Privacy Update

Apple has changed how it handles personal data, with it’s ITP (Intelligent Tracking Prevention) framework in Safari. Third-party JavaScript cookie lifespans are now capped at seven days on all Safari browsers. This new, limited lifespan breaks traditional remarketing efforts and attribution models.

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.

Praxis Metrics- Firefox Privacy Regulations

Mozilla

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”.

Praxis Metrics- Chrome Privacy Update

Google

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.

Pixels

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.

If you’re freaked out by all of the changes hitting the data landscape, we can help. Book your complimentary data strategy session with a Praxis Metrics data expert who can walk you through these changes.

Praxis Metrics- How to win in the attribution war

How to win in the attribution war

One plus one equals one and a half?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then how do I get data that I can trust?

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

#1: Tracking

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

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

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

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

Are you tracking your client’s journey?

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

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

Are you using pixels?

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

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

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

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

Do you have organized UTMs setup?

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

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

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

By organizing your tracking efforts, you can start gathering the data you will need in the future. If you need help with your tracking, visit the Praxis Metrics – Google Analytics Audit service page to read about how we can help you get your tracking in order.

#2: Reporting

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

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

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

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

Bonus #3: Democratize your data

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

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

You may be asking yourself, “How on earth would that help my business?” Everyone has different backgrounds and experience, so when one person looks at a metric they will see one thing and come up with an action item based off their experience; but if you bring in another set of eyes, that person may see something totally different and come to a different conclusion. Democratizing data and making it accessible to more people will lead to greater insights and more options for ways to proceed.

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

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

Praxis Metrics- 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 Praxis Metrics – Google Analytics Setup to read more.

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/

Praxis Metrics- Financial Marketing Summit

Financial Marketing Summit Keynote Speech

Data is a lot like teenage sex-

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

– Dan Ariely

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

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

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

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

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

How can you get a leg up in your business?

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

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

Taking action from data is the new competitive advantage.

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

Data does not solve problems.

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

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

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

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

Where do I begin?

Your outputs are only as good as your inputs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UTM’s are one of the most powerful tools that you have in your analytics arsenal, but they can also be very daunting to get started with. We have written several blog posts on the subject matter, which can help you understand them much better. You can read more of those here:

Praxis Metrics – How to increase revenue with one simple tweak,

Praxis Metrics – Why UTM’s are so important,

and we even set up a course that will teach you from start to finish how to create UTM’s and even has a spreadsheet that will automatically create them for you here: https://datarich.thinkific.com/

After UTM’s, what’s next?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That covers the first two steps of data maturity.

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

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

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