How to use your data to set yourself apart
In today’s market, businesses are a dime a dozen. Virtually anyone can start a business from a laptop in a coffee shop. The question is, how do you break through that noise, get in front of your customers and get them to purchase from you?
We’ll cover those questions and more in this podcast episode from the A-Game Advantage.
Don’t work in your business; instead, work on your business
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in all of the things that you need to do. Everyone has a to-do list that could last a lifetime. The problem is that entrepreneurs often get too caught up in their to-do lists.
We often hear from business owners that “someone needs to do it”, so they do it themselves. They often get stuck in the mindset of when they started the business; if they didn’t do it, no one would.
While it’s extremely important to continue to hustle and set an example of hard work, you need to make sure that your time is being utilized effectively. Too many small business leaders don’t make time to leverage their superpowers for the business.
This was the exact problem that our friend AJ Vaden struggled with in her business. She used to spend hours working with her accountant to figure out the commissions for her employees, contractors and affiliates every month.
She knew that she wasn’t properly utilizing her time by looking through reports, exporting information into spreadsheets, and analyzing it; but she felt like if she didn’t, no one would. Every hour she spent on manual reports took her away from her true value in the business, and carried a HUGE opportunity cost.
Unfortunately, many owners, marketers, and managers feel this same way. They force themselves to do redundant tasks like report generation because they NEED the insights from the reports they create. Valuable information lies cross-platform, so they build manual excel sheets in order to pull fragmented pieces of information together so that they can make better business decisions.
How do you escape the cycle?
There are two simple options when it comes to making the switch from working in your business to on your business: automate or delegate.
Both of those options have their pros and cons. Automation tends to cost more in up-front investment, but pays off handsomely over time. Delegation has a lower introductory cost, and can help you find new talent for your business; but you’re still relying on humans to do the work. Humans tend to cost more than machines over time, and they make more errors. So, by now you may be wondering what our friend AJ decided to do.
She decided that in order to scale, they needed to automate out their reporting. She decided that she wanted a long-term solution that would scale with her business. So, we helped them create custom dashboards that automatically calculated commissions, and took care of specific, one-off scenarios that used to take hours to figure out. They went from 10 hours down to one hour of manual work per month; saving them tens of thousands per month in costs.
You can read more about the solution that Praxis Metrics built, and how it impacted their business here: Praxis Metrics Case Study – Brand Builders Group
Don’t discount your data
Big businesses would like for SMBs to believe that somehow they have more knowledge and information than them. While large companies may have more historical data, SMBs now have access to treasure troves of information. Between tags, pixels, and cookies, you can get an unbelievable amount of data on how your customers interact with your brand.
There are several reasons that businesses may struggle with their data:
1- They’re overwhelmed
As we talked about earlier, there is a ton of data out there. It’s hard to determine what is useful information and what is just noise.
If you struggle with this, don’t worry, that’s a common issue to have. We have helped hundreds of companies through this issue with a process called “Metrics Mapping”. Metrics Mapping helps you find the metrics that you need to measure and cut out the vanity metrics.
The process for Metrics Mapping is very simple. Start with your high-level business objectives and goals. From there, determine what questions you need answered in order to hit that goal. In the example below, we want to double our revenue over the next year. We then need to ask, “How do we increase conversions off the site?”.
From there, we need to look for the metrics that will answer this question for us. We decided that the most important numbers for website conversions were conversion rates, customer lifetime value, acquisition costs, and profitability.
By simplifying the metrics that you need to measure down to the bare essentials, you can eliminate a lot of the confusion and fear that accompanies dealing with data analysis.
2- Fear of what the data will tell you
Another thing that can help reduce the stress of dealing with data is viewing it as a story. All data tells a story, but sometimes we don’t want to hear that story. If you never look at your numbers, it’s very easy to deceive yourself into thinking that things are one way, when they’re really very different.
It’s important to be able to step back, remove emotion from the equation, and analyze your data with fresh eyes.
Those who ask the important questions, such as what’s working and what’s not working, are the ones who are able to set themselves apart from the competition.
If you’re not looking at your data, your competitors are
What drove Blockbuster and Barnes and Nobles out of business? Failure to adapt to a changing landscape. Right now the landscape is shifting beneath our feet. Data just surpassed oil as the most valuable commodity in the world, and several high-level acquisitions for data companies have been announced by Google and Salesforce, totaling $18.3 billion dollars.
Your data is extremely valuable, whether or not you choose to use it. Some businesses get lucky and manage to grow their business without leveraging their data; but that’s generally because they have a great product or service and just stumble into success. They succeed in spite of themselves. If they actually leveraged their data, they could be at the top of their respective markets.
The 80/20 rule
80% of your results are driven by 20% of your efforts. Your data can tell you which 20% is driving the results, allowing you to double down on the things that create real value for your business, rather than chasing vanity metrics that do nothing for your business. Businesses that capitalize on this can double or quadruple the results that they see, not because they increase their efforts, and not because the increase their budget; but because they increase their understanding and knowledge.
This divide between the data-driven and the non-data-driven is separating the market drastically. Those capitalizing on their data are quickly becoming the 20% collecting 80% of the revenue.
How to begin taking advantage of your data
Your output is only as good as your input.
Everything starts with your tracking. If you don’t have accurate tracking in order, then you can’t make good decisions off of your data. The most important place to start is with your revenue metrics. We recommend that companies get their tracking in order for marketing and sales so that they can see an accurate picture of the financial health of their company.
The question you need to be able to answer is “What are you doing in your business right now that is working?”. So you need to start tracking where your conversions come from. Do you convert referrals better than direct traffic, Google ads better than Facebook ads, email better than social?
For most companies, this information is already being collected for you by various software tools. The trick is finding where it’s tracking, making sure that it’s accurate, and then analyzing it for insights.
The mistake that most small businesses make is ignoring their tracking. They either think that they’re too small to worry about it, or they think that it’ll be ok if they just implement it later. The problem with this is that when you finally get to the point where you want to utilize the data, you won’t have any data.
Tracking is the foundation for data.
Even if you’re not ready for “big data”, or even to analyze it, it’s important that you start to track your data. Even if you’re not using it now, a few years down the line, you’ll be very grateful that you gathered that data so that you can glean important insights from it.
What tools should you use?
On the marketing side, you need to have Google Analytics set up on your site. Google Analytics provides answers to some of the most important tracking questions that you can have. The only downside to this tool is that it’s notoriously difficult to set up properly, and it can be difficult to find the data that you’re looking for if you’ve never used it before.
We recommend having an expert help you install and set up your Google Analytics. We offer that service if you are interested.
In addition to Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager is a free tool that will help you manage all of the other tracking codes that you want to apply to your website. From Facebook pixels to LinkedIn advertising, every platform has their own proprietary tracking, and all of that can get messy on the back end of your website. Google Tag manager helps to keep the code that you have to install on your site minimal, and keeps your tracking organized.
On the sales side, you need to have a CRM set up that allows you to track your sales, clients, how they found you, and your sales cycles.
What changes when a business starts really tracking their data?
When a business starts focusing on their data, they speed up their time to value and their scalability. If there are two businesses that sell the same products, the one that understands what does and doesn’t work for their business will be able to eliminate waste from their organization much faster, and therefore bring in higher returns from every investment that they make.
We have seen companies that were planning to reach $50 million in revenue in 5 years scale that number down to 12 months because they started to double down on the things that work and eliminating the things that didn’t. By understanding their customers and what resonates with them, they were able to rapidly scale their business simply by doubling down on the things that are already yielding results.
We had one client who wanted to know one specific question: what was the lifetime value of their customers. They came to us for help with this question, and we helped them discover that they had greatly underestimated the value of their customers over time. So they decided to increase their allowable cost per acquisition by just $5. This decision helped them increase the number of sales from 15 sales per day to over 300 in less than a month. From there, their numbers kept rising, and now that one funnel brings in more than a million dollars per year in revenue.
This client was able to see that level of transformation off of just one metric, and one simple question.
So many entrepreneurs come to us at their wits end. They push themselves to the brink trying to grow and scale their business; but once they understand the things that they don’t work, they’re able to stop worrying about that and stop dedicating time to it. This allows them to focus in on the things that provide value to their business, and it rapidly simplifies their lives.
One of the primary goals of this process is eliminating waste. Eliminate the 80% of things that eat up your time and energy, and focus in on the 20% of things that are providing real value to your organization. Doing this helps you reclaim your time, and allows you to increase the value of your output dramatically.
How to use data to stand out to investors
We work with a lot of VC firms who talk about how helpful this data is when analyzing their companies. The data helps them understand the story of the company. Having data helps these investment firms understand the true potential of these companies, and helps them apply the 80/20 rule in the businesses that they invest in. They can focus on the 20% of their companies that produce the highest results for them, and then stop investing in the 80% that underperform.
Having all of your data in order also helps when trying to pitch investors. Many investment firms have teams that they use in order to validate your data, but if you can show them exactly where the data comes from and how it’s validated already, it will put you head and shoulders above your competition.
How to use data to help you in your daily life
Health and fitness are an easy way to start leveraging data in your life. There are an infinite number of metrics that you can use to measure your health: from weight to pant size, the number of reps that you perform at the gym to your cholesterol levels.
One of the more obscure ways to leverage data in your everyday life though is in your relationships. By leveraging data in your relationship, you can start to track where your points of conflicts are, then you can start to drill down into why that conflict is occurring, and finally learn how to prevent it from happening again.
The goal of data is to leverage it into changing human behavior; both in business and in relationships.
If you look at your calendar and your checkbook, you’ll quickly see where your priorities truly lie.