4 vital steps to becoming a data-driven company
Step 1- Remove emotion from the equation.
Your data will always tell you a story; it just sometimes tells a story that you don’t want to hear. Often we find that people stop listening to their data when it gets hard, or right when the details are becoming the most important; but those are the times when you need to listen to the story that it’s telling you even more.
You need to take emotion out of your decision making process if you really want to become a data-driven company. Often the climate of the business has a huge impact on our lives, so it’s often difficult to separate your emotions from the decisions that you make, especially during the hard times. When the times are the toughest are generally when you need to be the most data-driven, and those are the hardest times to take emotion out of the equation; but if you do, it will help you to trust your decision-making process much more.
How do you remove emotion from the equation? The simplest way to remove emotion from the equation is to just let the numbers speak for themselves. No matter how hard things get, they will always get harder if you make the wrong decision.
It’s one thing to make the wrong decision because you went with a knee-jerk reaction; it’s a whole other beast to make the wrong decision because you had bad data. That’s why our next step is:
Step 2- Get your tracking in order.
You can’t make good decisions off of bad data. If your tracking is off, all of the insights that you get from that data are tainted.
One of the top 5 mistakes that businesses make is assuming that everything is tracking properly. Google Analytics is a very powerful, robust tool that helps businesses gain insights into their customers and their behaviors. It is also the number one most underutilized and error-prone tool used by small and medium businesses.
Analytics tools are notoriously difficult to set up properly, and unless you have an expert come in to set it up for you, or you invest the time to truly understand how to set it up properly, it can quickly turn from a bucket full of data to a bucket full of holes.
Many businesses know that their tracking is not correct, but they don’t know how to fix it; so they take the incomplete or inaccurate data that they have and they do their best with what they have.
The end goal of this step is to get you to the point where you have:
- Organized UTM’s
- Advanced Pixels
- Custom Conversions
- Event Tracking
We’ll go through each of these goals individually:
UTM’s are one of the most powerful tools that you have in your analytics arsenal, but they can also be very daunting to get started with. That is why we have written several blog posts on the subject matter, which you can find here: How to increase revenue with one simple tweak, Why UTM’s are so important, and we even set up a course that will teach you from start to finish how to create UTM’s and even has a spreadsheet that will automatically create them for you here: https://datarich.thinkific.com/
Tracking pixels generally have a similar functionalities to cookies. However, as more and more users are blocking cookies using browser functions, cookies provide incomplete data, and are often blocked completely.
Tracking pixels area good alternative to cookies as they cannot be blocked by a normal browser currently. Pixels gather a vast array of user data and pass it along to analytics tools. Some of the most popular advertising platforms use pixels to track user behavior and conversions. In addition to the basic tracking functions, pixels can also track custom events, such as video plays, button clicks, or time spent on a page.
Custom Conversions/ Event Tracking:
As we discussed in advanced pixel tracking, you can track so much more than simply page views and conversions. There is no end to the number of behaviors that you can track on a page. We recommend setting up custom goals, conversions and events within your analytics properties and assigning values to each of these items. While someone may not have purchased through your site, they may have filled out a contact form, or given their email address. If you know the average conversion rate for clients on your email list, and the average order value for them, you can assign a value to each email signup.
It’s just like we always say, your output is only as good as your input. If you can get your tracking in order, you are more than halfway through the journey to become a data driven company.
Step 3- Automate your reporting
Once you have your tracking in order, and you know that you have accurate data; you can move on to the next step: automation
You’ll know you’re ready for this step if you have all the complex tracking in place, but you or your team spends a ton of time gathering valuable insights from different systems and compiling them together into google sheets or into excel and pivot tables.
What compound interest is to your money, automation is to your time.
Businesses that we work with get most excited by this step, because it’s where we begin to focus on scaling the business. Automation leads to a reduction in overhead, increase in productivity, and allows you and your team to focus on the analysis of the information, rather than the collection of data. Automation eliminates the human error component of reporting, further allowing you to have complete confidence in the data that you receive.
To scale your business and progress even more, the focus shifts to integrating your systems together so that they automatically transform the raw data into the insights you need to take action. This allows your team to focus on valuable actions rather than mundane data entry. In technical terms, this is called ETL (automatically extracting, transforming and loading your data into one place). For more information on this process, and how we use it with the companies that we work with, be sure to check out our post on data-driven mistakes even good ecommerce business owners make (and how to avoid them).
Step 4- Democratize the data
The final step that you need to take is to share this information with all the people on your team. You wouldn’t believe the value that democratizing your data can have on your organization. Sharing data allows people to bring their diverse backgrounds and viewpoints to the data to help interpret it.
By allowing your team to access the data, they can bring valuable insights to the table and different perspectives that you might not have seen. We call this the lift effect, and we have seen it happen many times across multiple companies and industries. We recently talked to one of our clients about the value that democratizing data has had for them. Be sure to check out our full interview with Organifi here.
Everyone has their own ideas about what it means to have a data-driven culture. We don’t believe that this list is exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination; but we do believe that if you follow these steps, your business will transform into a data-driven organization. If you follow the steps that we outlined here, we guarantee that you will see a change in your business.
If you have questions on any of these steps, or need help with implementation; we are here to help. We provide comprehensive analytics audits to help see where you may have issues with your data. If you struggle with automation, we have a series of pre-built dashboards that can automate your data for you. If none of those interest you, we can also build out custom dashboards to measure unique metrics for your business.