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.

Praxis Metrics- Leveraging data to optimize ad spend

Praxis Metrics – Leveraging data to optimize ad spend

In this guest appearance on the Perpetual Traffic podcast, AJ and Meaghan talk about how to use your data to optimize your ad spend, and rapidly scale your business.

They cover everything from getting your tracking in order, all the way up to creating customized dashboards and leveraging complex machine learning and AI.

Enjoy the episode and our insights below.

The struggle today-

Many marketers feel that they aren’t getting the most accurate data inside of the ad platforms. Unfortunately, they are completely correct. Some marketers go so far as to purchase a cheap dashboarding tool in order to help them bring all of their metrics together into one platform in order to help them with this issue. Unfortunately, this will not solve the problem for them at all.

Why do we suddenly have this struggle with data? What drove us to this point?

In our opinion, the problem stems from an overabundance of data. Never in the history of the world has so much data been available to us. Even in the last 20-30 years, large-scale data projects were reserved exclusively for enterprise-level companies. But now, every company has access to “big data”; despite this, many still have the mentality that their business doesn’t have the same access to data, and therefore the same opportunities and responsibilities, as the larger organizations.

Because these smaller businesses fail to leverage the data available to them, they often find themselves utilizing incomplete or dirty data. If they utilized all of the tools and tracking options available to them, they would have a much more complete and accurate picture of what’s happening.

The opportunity today-

Similar to the dot-com boom of the late 90’s, we’re seeing a “data boom” today. Those that have embraced data and created strategic initiatives around data are already separating themselves from their competition. Taking action from data is the new competitive advantage.

Those who capitalize on data have the opportunity to outpace and out-scale their competitors. John Wanamaker said: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”. Those who eliminate waste in their budget open themselves to amazing opportunities. By doubling or quadrupling down on the things that work, they can drive exponential growth.

How you can capitalize on this opportunity-

Ask the right questions-

We firmly believe in the Socratic method. Asking questions helps you find deeper truths. The trick is finding the right questions to ask that will propel your business forward.

We found that the best way to find these questions is through a process called “metrics mapping”. The diagram below walks through an example:

Praxis Metrics- Metrics Mapping

Metrics Mapping starts with the big goals of your organization. This could include doubling your revenue year over year, increasing sales of a certain product by 30%, etc. From there, we want to drill down to the questions that you need to answer in order to meet that goal. If you want to double your revenue, then why don’t you? What questions do you need to answer in order to hit your goal?

Once you have the questions that you need to answer, it’s time to figure out what numbers can help you answer that question. In the example above, we need to know how to increase conversions and revenue from the website. In order to figure out how to do that, we need to figure out conversion rates, LTV, CPA, and profitability.

Once we have asked the right questions and gathered the necessary data, we need to:

Get granular with it-

Averages are inherently evil. Averages by definition mash together your highs and your lows and give you one number to work with. In order to properly scale your business, you need to know what creates the highs and what creates the lows. Once you know that, you can scrap the things that bring in the lows and double down on the highs.

Going back to the previous example; once we’ve gathered the numbers, we can strategize our next move. Perhaps we need to update our nurture sequence to increase return purchases. We may have a funnel step that causes dramatic drop-off that we can eliminate.

By getting granular in our analysis, we can discover a myriad of opportunities.

What metrics should every business look at?

Every business suffers from “terminal uniqueness”. While every business has certain things that they specifically need to track, there are a host of metrics that every business should know.

The obvious metrics that fall into this category are ad spend, return on ad spend, etc. In addition to these, businesses should also look at cost of goods sold (COGS), shipping expenses, and overhead. Many businesses forget to factor these costs when they look at what their allowable cost per acquisition can be.

This allows you to look at your return on ad spend through the lens of profitability, rather than just revenue generated.

What is the biggest problem businesses have with reporting?

Over-attribution. We see this issue with almost every client that we work with. Facebook, Google, and every other ad platform utilizes different attribution models. Generally, the platform will leverage an attribution model that favors them, and makes them look the best.

So Facebook utilizes an attribution window, meaning that if someone clicks on your ad, and then returns to your site within 28 days, they will claim that they produced 100% of the revenue from that client. Google defaults to last-touch attribution modeling, meaning that wherever that user came from when they made the purchase receives 100% credit for the revenue of that client. Other platforms count view-through conversions combined with an attribution window, meaning that if they saw your ad and then purchased within a certain time frame, that platform claims credit for that sale.

This scenario can lead to multiple ad platforms claiming that they are responsible for the exact same sale.

How do we combat this issue?

If you’re interested in learning more on this subject, we have a separate blog post on ways that every business can work through the over-attribution problem here.

In addition to those tips, our biggest suggestion for fixing this issue is getting a multi-source business intelligence tool. By extracting data from the back end of each of the ad systems, you can piece together a client’s journey and create your own attribution models. This allows you to see your true customer journey, rather than just a simple metric provided to you by a biased platform.

Unfortunately, even that solution relies heavily on the tracking that you have in place. If your tracking hasn’t been set up properly, then you have to rely on the data reported by these platforms, rather than leveraging and creating your own.

Your output is only as good as your inputs-

It doesn’t matter how much you spend on your powerful tools, they still rely on the data that you give to them. If your tracking isn’t set up properly, it’s impossible for a dashboard to correct that for you.

Powerful insights require great data. And unfortunately, good data requires great tracking.

Good news though, if you can get your tracking nailed down properly, then everything else glides into place. The old adage of “measure twice, cut once” applies to data as much as carpentry.

Going back to the metrics mapping process, we want to help you find the “source of truth” for every metric that you measure.

The “source of truth”-

Every metric should have a place where the definitive answer lives. If you want to know how much revenue you’ve brought in over the last month, you can check your bank account, or Stripe, or Paypal. If you want to know how long visitors from Instagram stay on your website, Google Analytics could help you find that answer.

Each data platform specializes in different data points, and we want to get the best data from the best sources.

Where to begin?

We recommend that every business start with the projects that will move the needle for the business. This generally means starting with sales and marketing initiatives, as they generate revenue for the rest of the business.

We have been shocked at how many issues businesses solve by getting their data set up properly for sales and marketing. Also, by leading with these departments, we can generally start to uncover holes in other parts of the business. If we see a spike in cancellations that coincides with customer survey emails, we know that we clearly have something to fix there.

It’s important to remember with every data initiative that it’s a journey. As much as we wish that we could fix every data problem overnight, it takes time to solve these issues and answer these questions. From there, we need to take action from the insights that we gained, and then we can see the results.

Leverage your uniqueness into growth-

As we stated earlier, every business suffers from terminal uniqueness. While this can complicate projects, that is also the place where you can see the greatest results.

By leveraging your uniqueness in the things that you track, you can get extremely granular, and explode your business in ways that others can’t.

One of our clients, Fancy Sprinkles, found amazing insights by tracking what no one else bothered to track.

Fancy Sprinkles, which does exactly what their name sounds like, gets most of their leads from Instagram. They decided to go back through every post that they had ever done and manually put into a spreadsheet the variables of the post. They tracked whether the product was shot indoors or outdoors, close or at a distance, color palettes, everything.

When they overlaid this data with their social media engagement rates over time, they found amazing insights. During October, they assumed that they should post something orange and black to capitalize on the holiday. But after consulting their data, they quickly realized that those colors got the worst engagement in October. The data told them that they should use purple and green, outdoors, and close-up. Their engagement skyrocketed because of these insights.

Tracking may require an up-front investment. Fancy Sprinkles needed interns to work for hours to catalog all of that data, but once they had the historical data, it became much easier to simply input those data points on every post that they made.

When should people seek help with their data?

As soon as it gets annoying or frustrating.

This may seem simplistic, but it doesn’t make sense for you to abandon your superpowers only to beat your head against a wall.

Your company hired you because of your skillset, and if data doesn’t fall into that skillset, it’s better to outsource that than to take away time and energy from the things that you do best.

What should businesses have in place before consulting with Praxis?

We built Praxis to meet companies wherever they are on the data maturity spectrum.

If you need help with your tracking, we offer Google Analytics audits and implementations. We even have courses that can walk you through setting up your tracking at your own pace.

If you already have your tracking in order and want to move on to scaling your business and gleaning better insights, then we offer pre-built dashboards that can help you start leveraging your data into growth.

If you have issues unique to your market or business that you need specific help on, we offer custom dashboards and implementations that we can build from scratch to better suit your needs.

Praxis Metrics- How to 10X your company using data and dashboards

How to 10X your business with data and dashboards

In this guest appearance on Mike Dillard’s Self Made Man podcast, AJ and Meaghan talk about how to rapidly scale your business using data and dashboards.

They cover everything from the data maturity spectrum to metrics mapping, tracking, UTMs, and how to combine these things for rapid growth in your business.

Check out the full episode below along with our summary of key takeaways.

How did Praxis get started?

Prior to starting Praxis, AJ and Meaghan created a data-driven digital marketing agency. They quickly found though that reporting on their marketing efforts was taking more time that actually implementing their strategies. Because of this, they began researching automated solutions to the reporting problem. Once they finally created a solution, they found that more people needed that solution than needed marketing help.

They decided to pivot and become an outsourced data agency, and Praxis Metrics was born.

Initially they courted enterprise-level clients because those clients were they only ones seeking out “big data” at the time. However, as time passed, they realized that they gained more satisfaction from helping SMBs achieve their potential through data. So they began to provide the same powerful insights and dashboards that they had built for the enterprise clients to smaller businesses.

What are the biggest takeaways from working with such a diverse group of clients?

SMB business owners need the same questions answered as the enterprise companies. While they may look at them through different lenses and different granularity, the questions remain the same.

The number one question that every client asks is, “how much can I spend to acquire my customers?”. Generally, the next questions asked are: “how much are those customers worth over time?” and “where and what do they purchase from me?”.

These questions all stem from the same desire: understanding your core customers, and how to best serve them.

It all boils down to what is and isn’t working in your business right now.

What are some of the biggest differences in SMBs and enterprise companies?

Enterprise companies recognize how much data they have, and the value of that data. SMBs often downplay the amount and value of the data that they already have.

Most SMBs don’t realize that even just having timestamps of when your customers purchase provides valuable insights to the business. This lets you know the times when your purchasers will be most receptive to your messages and most likely to purchase your products.

What difficulties do businesses face with their data?

Trusting your data is the key to gaining good insights. If you don’t trust your data, then the prettiest dashboard in the world will not help you.

You need to have the confidence to take action from your data; otherwise it’s like having gasoline but no car. You won’t get anywhere with that.

We’ve seen a multitude of dashboard companies that sell businesses on the visuals of their dashboards alone, but without fixing the underlying data issues, they end up providing very little value to their customers.

Time constraints

Many SMBs say that they simply don’t have the time to get their data in order; but we preach the opposite. The best time to set up your tracking and make sure that you gather clean, accurate data is before you have too much of it. As your organization scales and grows, the amount of clean-up required in order to get your data in order scales as well. If you make a concerted effort in the beginning to get clean, accurate data that you can trust, your business will scale faster. And when the time comes to transition into dashboards and advanced analytics, your data will be ready and actionable, saving you valuable time and money.

Every business has the time to sit down and set up standard operating procedures (SOPs) for their business. Setting down SOPs is especially important when it comes to UTMs. If you can lay down the groundwork early on for standardized tracking, you can gain amazing insights on how to communicate effectively with your clients.

UTMs will tell you what types of content your customers like to engage with, it will tell you the specific mediums that they like to engage with your business on, and it will help you eliminate the issue of over-attribution in your tracking. If you want to learn more about over-attribution, and how that affects businesses, visit Praxis Metrics – How to win the attribution war to read more.

How do we lay the foundation for the future?

Even if you don’t have the time to analyze the data yet, it’s imperative that you begin tracking your customers and their behavior. You can’t retroactively gather data from your customers. When it gets to the point that you want to begin retargeting campaigns, or analyzing your customer behaviors, if you didn’t set up your tracking you won’t have any information to go off.

When they begin advertising, many businesses start with a shotgun approach. They distribute their spend equally across the most popular platforms without knowing which one will drive the best results for their business. If you track your customer behaviors over time, they will show you where they like to engage with you. You can know whether you get the highest traffic from Facebook or Instagram or Linkedin.

What are some of the data success stories that Praxis has seen?

Danette May-

Danette May wanted to see the true lifetime value of their customers to see if they could scale a funnel. They knew that the funnel converted well with retargeting, but they had a hard time getting the same response from cold traffic. They had an idea of the LTV of their customers, but they wanted to verify.

We found that their customers actually had a much higher LTV than they thought. This allowed them to increase their allowable cost per acquisition (CPA) by $5. This change caused them to take an initial loss on the first product sold, but they also knew that within 30 days, these clients would return and spend much more on other products.

This change drove them from 15 sales per day on this product to more than 350 sales per day in less than two weeks. Within a month, they were selling more than 600 units per day.

If you’d like to learn more about Danette May’s journey and how this information helped them transform their business, we have an entire case study on them here.

Fancy Sprinkles-

We built a social media dashboard for Fancy Sprinkles that allowed them to drill down to see what kinds of posts received the most engagements over time. By tagging all of their posts with series of metadata: I.E. indoor vs outdoor shot, colors used, theme, etc.

Because of this metadata, they found that during Halloween the top performing posts contained purple or green, were shot outdoors, and had close-ups of the products. Naturally, this ran completely counter to everyone’s instincts, but it allowed them to provide their audience with content that they actually wanted to engage with. Because they had this data, they outpaced their competitors in engagement and attention.

What are some of the data failure stories that Praxis has seen?

We’ve had clients who utilized free shipping discounts in order to better compete with Amazon. These clients assumed that this would inspire higher customer loyalty, and create repeat customers. Unfortunately, when we cleaned and examined their data, we found that this wasn’t the case at all.

This assumption was costing them dearly over time, preventing them from properly scaling, and could have driven them out of business if it had gone on for too long.

The key to success is listening to your data.

The most viewed person on Facebook was a magician who simply did magic tricks in front of his webcam in a coffee shop. He managed to scale his brand and following by tracking the videos that performed best and then replicating the factors in those posts over time.

Data doesn’t have to include machine learning, or advanced AI algorithms. A simple excel sheet that analyzes data points can drive more success than multi-million dollar solutions.

If you don’t analyze your data to see what works and what doesn’t; your competitors will analyze that data, and eventually overtake you because of your failure to capitalize. Data has the power to topple huge organizations like Barnes and Nobles or Blockbuster, and the pace of change is only accelerating.

Who does Praxis work with, and how can they prepare?

We have historically worked with enterprise companies; so we can work with larger organizations, but our passion is working with SMBs and helping them rapidly scale their businesses.

We have brought the “big data” insights to the SMB market by finding the common threads between every implementation that we have done for these enterprise companies. By finding the common questions that everyone has, we have built out plug-and-play dashboards that can help answer those questions. Because these dashboards require very little ramp-up or custom coding, we can offer them for a much lower price than normal, and roll them out much faster.

These dashboards answer some of the fundamental business questions that every business needs to know: what is the LTV of my customers, how are my subscription services trending over time, what products drive the most revenue and value, etc. We extract this data from multiple sources, ensuring that you get the most accurate and valuable data.

Our pricing ranges from $500-$1500 per month for platform costs, and then we just charge hourly for any work to build out the dashboards and connect to data sources.

Preparation-

We meet our clients wherever they are on the data maturity spectrum. A lot of our clients come to us and they need help getting their tracking in order before they move onto dashboards. We offer services to help with that. No matter what your data needs are, we can help you get from where you currently are to where you want to be.

If you need help diagnosing your data needs, we offer free, personalized data roadmaps to clarify the next steps for your business.

Praxis Metrics- Data Predictions

Predicting data trends (2018-2020)

For this blog post, we wanted to revisit a guest episode that we did with the Vision Tech Team. This episode was filmed at the end of 2018, and focused on the changes that we saw in the data landscape in 2018, as well as predictions for 2019.

We found this episode particularly relevant given the changes in the data landscape that we detailed in last week’s post (which you can find here).

Enjoy this short podcast episode, and our insights below.

Insights from 2018:

  1. The data landscape changed rapidly, making it very difficult to predict what different platforms would do.
    1. Infusionsoft became much more open with their data in 2018, while Facebook began to clamp down on what data they would allow access to.
  2. Businesses began to understand the value of data, and started to understand it’s importance.
    1. Similar to the dot-com boom, businesses that fail to take advantage of their data started falling behind in the market.
  3. Data overload started coming to a head. Businesses started needing to figure out what data actually drives results.
    1. Trust in data became an issue. Data validation became a necessary part of data projects.
  4. Data visualization became the new buzzword.
    1. Everyone became obsessed with visualizing their data.
    2. This often came at the expense of actually driving new insights, as they would simply slap graphs on the same data.
  5. Automation started to spread
    1. In the beginning, nobody tracked anything.
    2. Then, businesses started tracking, but the data was stuck in silos.
    3. From there, data nerds started creating complex pivot tables and Excel sheets to bring the data together.
    4. Now, automation became feasible, and started taking over. This removed the need for manual reporting, and made the visualizations better.
  6. Going back to data overload, tracking exploded in 2018.
    1. You started being able to track anything that you wanted, and this lead many companies to overload on data.
    2. For those that actually leveraged this data, it caused explosive growth.
  7. Chatbots exploded onto the scene.
    1. Chatbots began to expand their footprint, with very promising results.
  8. Businesses began realizing the value of data democratization.
    1. Rather than having just one data nerd knowing everything about your data, businesses began to share data with all employees.
    2. By opening up data to the entire organization, you can gain insights that you previously would have missed out on.
    3. This allows organizations to leverage the combined brain-power of their entire team, rather than just the select few.

Predictions for 2019:

  1. Increased competition for data.
    1. As more companies realize the value of data, more and more companies will start competing for it.
    2. As data becomes more ubiquitous, companies will get better and better at targeting and marketing. This will drive inefficient organizations into the ground, leaving only the best to survive.
  2. Data overload to the max.
    1. As more data becomes available, businesses will need to start deciding what metrics actually matter to them.
    2. Most businesses will need to hone in on the handful of metrics that actually drive results (80/20).
      1. Those that capitalize on this principle will thrive in 2019
  3. Increased transparency and accountability.
    1. As more companies move towards data democratization, we will see a shift towards increased accountability across organizations. This will create cultures that thrive on extreme accountability.
    2. Since everyone has access to the data, it will become much more difficult for low performers to hide behind the work of others.

Looking back on 2018, things seem so much simpler. They only worried about compliance with GDPR. In 2019, we have a host of regulations on the horizon to worry about, decreased access to data and information, and platforms throttling data.

Looking forward to 2020, we’re likely to see an acceleration of the changes from 2019. We expect more data regulations to come into effect, and as a result of this, we expect a decrease in marketing efficiency.

One of the things that every business should start doing is gathering data into a data warehouse. This protects you from the whims of the larger platforms, and gives you complete ownership over your data. By gathering your knowledge and wisdom into your own database, you insulate yourself from the storm that is brewing on the horizon.

Praxis specializes in data, so we can help you take ownership over your data, create back-ups, and help you understand your data better than ever before. You can learn more about our products and offerings here. If you have immediate questions, you can contact a Praxis Metrics data expert directly.

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.