Lessons from AJ and Meaghan's entrepreneurial journey

Lessons from AJ and Meaghan’s entrepreneurial journey

In this week’s blog post, we wanted to showcase our appearance on the First $100K podcast with Joseph Warren. In this episode, they cover everything from lessons learned to current fears about business. Make sure to check it out with our insights below:

What do I really want?

Too often in our lives, we get caught up in the flow of things. We allow ourselves to just progress in our lives without taking the time to ask what it is that we’re truly looking for. By becoming intentional and taking the time to ask ourselves what we actually want, we can start being proactive about our decisions rather than just reactive.

AJ and Meaghan realized that the path that they started on no longer suited the lifestyle that they wanted. They ran a successful marketing agency, but they found that the business could not function without them. This made it impossible for them to live the lifestyle that they wanted, and didn’t fit with their long-term vision for the business.

They decided to ask themselves what had brought themselves to this point in their lives, and what things kept them from reaching their goals. In order to run this analysis though, they first had to define what they really wanted. After they defined what they wanted, they reverse engineered that into what they needed to do to achieve success.

What is stopping me from achieving my goals?

Meaghan and AJ found that they wanted time freedom. But when they looked at their situation, they found that their business was blocking them from that. Because the business was built around AJ and his expertise, he needed to be on every call and project. This made it impossible for them to properly scale the business properly, and cost them their time freedom. They started to analyze the business, and quickly realized that they had a problem with hiring. None of their hires could replace AJ, so he was stuck. In order to gain the freedom that they craved, they needed to start hiring smarter.

Creating a multiplier-

At this point, Meaghan and AJ realized that even though they owned their business, they were still stuck trading their time for money. Inevitably, you reach a plateau or a breaking point in that deal. They realized that they needed to break out of that cycle to live the lifestyle that they wanted. The only way to improve that exchange is to find a multiplier.

Multipliers come in a myriad of forms: employees, automation systems, processes, etc. A multiplier includes anything that can increase your output without requiring more input from you.

Tips and strategies for creating your first $100K-

Hire the right people

Getting the right people on your team will drive your first $100K, almost more than anything else. You can do almost anything with the right team around you. You have to remember though, the people who helped you get to $100K may not be the right people to help you get to your next $100K. For AJ and Meaghan, they hired whoever they could until they reached their first $100K. Once they broke through that initial barrier though, they decided that they could afford to select better employees. They went back and started replacing their mediocre team members with better team members, and this helped them rapidly scale the business.

Target your market

The next tip that they would suggest is focusing on the right customers. For Meaghan and AJ, they luckily already had some clients built in to this new business that they launched. They had some marketing clients that needed tracking and analytics services. This allowed them to hit the ground running, and then expand their offerings to suit the needs of their target market.

During this phase of finding their ideal clients, AJ and Meaghan established a mantra: easy and effortless. They wanted to target clients that would be easy to capture, easy to educate, and easy to serve. By following this focus, they quickly expanded their client base, allowing them to scale in other ways, as we previously discussed.

Over-deliver for them

By properly targeting their clients, they knew that Praxis could over-deliver to their clients, and that is their third tip. During the start-up phase, it’s imperative that you create raving fans for your product. In the early days, most of Praxis’ growth came from word of mouth referrals from business owners. Because Praxis delivered such value to their clients, they told everyone that they knew about their amazing work. This over-delivery keept their clients coming back for more work, and the referrals created a steady stream of new business for Praxis.

What was the biggest mistake?

The biggest mistake that Praxis made was also one of the keys to their growth early on. Unfortunately, Praxis just continued the practice for too long. After years of business, Praxis still struggled with scaling. They brought in great top line revenue, but very little of it made it to the bottom line. AJ and Meaghan decided to run a deep-dive on their expenses to figure out where this money went. They discovered that over-delivering to the clients made it impossible for them to scale.

Basically, when they drilled down into the numbers, they discovered that they wrote off tons of hours in order to provide better products for their customers. This meant that the client didn’t pay for those hours worked on their project, but Praxis did. This one thing ate up almost all of the profit from the business, and cost them more than half a million dollars annually.

Meaghan and AJ feared that if they stopped writing off the hours, that their clients would revolt against them and leave. However, they found that no one had a problem paying the extra money, because the finished product was worth it. They got stuck in the mindset of the entrepreneur, and thought that they still needed to prove themselves. But they discovered that they had already passed that phase of the business, and people trusted and valued them enough to pay the true price.

The unfortunate truth-

Too many businesses get trapped in this same mindset. While it is important to over-deliver to the client, you also need to make sure that you charge what you are worth. At the end of the day, you need to make sure that the relationship works for both parties, not just the client. Most of the time, your clients will understand. If you have priced your products properly, you shouldn’t need to discount them in order to maintain the relationship.

Why do so many entrepreneurs struggle to cross $100k?

Over 90% of entrepreneurs struggle to break through the $100K mark. AJ and Meaghan never felt like the business struggled to cross that threshold, but they found it difficult to reach $100K personally. Meaghan specifically wanted to pour all of the money back into the business, as she felt that she could make more by forgoing her pay and instead bringing on a new employee or expanding the business offerings. She learned over time though that if she didn’t take a paycheck herself, then she would hold that against her employees. If they made more than her, then she felt that they needed to work harder than her.

Once she started paying herself though, she discovered that she valued her time more. She no longer took on menial tasks within the business because her time now had a cost attached to it. This caused her to shift focus towards bringing in people that could do those tasks in her place.

At this point, the podcast shifted to a lightning round of questioning, so we included the questions and responses below:

What is the best thing about being an entrepreneur?

AJ-

AJ loves the creative process. He loves the process of coming up with an idea, and then turning it into a plan and executing on it.

Meaghan-

Meaghan loves working from anywhere, and not having a standard dress code for work.

What is the worst thing about being an entrepreneur?

Meaghan-

Meaghan doesn’t like working 18 hour days. Especially when no one appreciates it.

What do AJ and Meaghan fear the most?

AJ-

AJ fears not having Meaghan around.

Meaghan-

Meaghan fears insecurity. This includes emotional and financial insecurity.

What did Meaghan and AJ spend too much time doing in the first year of business?

AJ-

AJ feels like he spent too much time managing expectations, also doing things outside of his wheelhouse.

Meaghan-

Meaghan also felt like they spent too much time outside of their strengths. They spent too much time putting the entire business on their shoulders and not bringing in specialists to help them out.

What secret fear do they have about people?

AJ-

AJ loves people too much to be afraid of them. He loves to figure people out and help them to maximize their potential, so no fears from him.

Meaghan-

Meaghan fears that people will let her down. She has high expectations of everyone, and has had a lot of people let her down.

What do they struggle with personally?

AJ-

AJ is currently struggling with imposter syndrome. As the business grows and scales, he feels less and less involved in the company. This has caused a bit of an identity struggle within him about who he is to the company and where his role is.

Meaghan-

Meaghan is struggling with her outlook. As a natural pessimist, she tends towards the negative very quickly. AJ always sees the potential for good, and she tends towards seeing the potential downside.

What do they wish they had learned sooner in business?

AJ-

Better hiring skills. If they had mastered hiring earlier on, it would have saved them a lot of time and money.

Meaghan-

To piggyback off of AJ’s answer, training as well. Training and coaching employees rather than being a taskmaster.

What 3 words would they choose to describe themselves?

AJ-

Radiant, inspiring, and clear.

Meaghan-

Disciplined, realistic, and prideful.

What 3 words would you use to describe yourself in the first year of business

AJ-

Scattered, frustrated, and hopeful.

Meaghan-

Naive, non-committed, and unfocused.

What is one bad habit that you want to break?

AJ-

Sticking to the morning routine more consistently.

If you could come back to life after death and offer one piece of advice to your family, what would it be?

AJ-

Love more. Every day try to love more.

Meaghan-

Focus on the things that matter.

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.

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- 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- Are you getting the most out of your ecommerce data?

Are you getting the most out of your ecommerce analytics?

What can your data do for you?

Your data may be the most valuable asset in your organization. The question that you need to answer is, “Are you getting the value out of it?”

In our guest appearance on the JetRails podcast, we cover everything from what metrics are actually important to growing ecommerce businesses, to how to make sure that you’re prepared against the upcoming data privacy changes. Check out the episode and our insights below:

What does Praxis Metrics do?

Praxis is an outsourced data team. We specialize in helping businesses gather, store, validate, and visualize their data. As data becomes more and more valuable, we help remove the strain of having to extract that value. Our goal is to help you understand your data in a way that makes it actionable, scalable, and valuable.

Many businesses think that they can’t compete with the big businesses with their “big data”, but as with all things, data intelligence has funneled down to the SMB market. This shift allows any business to take control of their data from inception and use it to rapidly scale.

Why did Praxis start?

Prior to starting Praxis, AJ and Meaghan created a 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.

What is the solution they created?

In creating their automated reporting system, Meaghan and AJ found ways to pull in data from all of the platforms and data silos of a business, allowing businesses to see all of their data gathered and aggregated in one place. A “command center” of sorts. This “command center” helps solve many common issues that ecommerce companies regularly face.

Where does the name “Praxis Metrics” come from?

The term “Praxis” comes from Aristotle’s foundational truths. He believed that there were three main constructs of man: Theory- which is thinking about things, Theoria- which takes the information that you thought about in theory and combining them together to create knowledge, and then there is Praxis- which is the practical application of the knowledge and wisdom that you gained by combining your theories and knowledge together.

Praxis Metrics- Data Maturity Scale

The process of Praxis is simple: data leads to information. Information can be turned into knowledge. Knowledge then transitions into wisdom. And taking action from that wisdom is praxis.

Data never solves a company’s problems. Data simply points out facts. You need to interpret those facts and find the driving force. Once you understand the driving forces, you can take action to impact those forces. Your actions are the only thing that will change your business. The practical application (praxis) of your wisdom will help you scale your business; not your data.

The goal of Praxis Metrics is to give businesses data that they can take action from. We want for everyone to leverage their data into action that helps them grow their business.

Every metric should have an action tied to it. Metrics without action tied to them are just vanity metrics.

How can I take strategic action from my data?

We start every client journey with a process called “metrics mapping”. Metrics mapping allows us to figure out what data you actually need to gather in order to reach praxis.

Pictured below is an example of the process of metrics mapping:

Praxis Metrics- Metrics Mapping

Metrics mapping starts with the goals that your business wants to achieve. In this example, this company wanted to double their revenue year over year. Once you have your goals in mind, you need to start asking the questions that will lead you to that goal. In this case, they need to increase conversions on their website in order to reach their goal. The question that they need to answer is, “how?”.

Once we know the questions that we need answers to, we know the metrics that we need to pull. We’ll begin pulling the metrics that help us answer the question: conversion rates, customer LTV, acquisition costs, and profitability.

From there, we need to find the “source of truth” for each of these metrics. The source of truth is the place where we can find the most accurate data. For financial data, this can be your bank account, Stripe, or Paypal. For traffic data, it could be Google Analytics, or the back end of your website. The point of this stage is to find the most accurate data source to pull from.

The rest of the steps would be carried out with the help of the Praxis team as we help you build out your dashboards.

How do I justify spending money on data?

It’s important to remember that data is an investment, not a cost center. Data recently surpassed oil as the most valuable resource on the planet, so any investment that you make into harvesting, leveraging, and improving your data should return massive dividends if implemented properly.

There’s a reason that data is now recognized as “king”. It has the power to create and destroy massive corporations, swing elections, and generate untold wealth for those who leverage it properly. If you know why something happened and your competitor doesn’t, you can pivot and adjust in order to take advantage of their ignorance.

Taking action from data is the new competitive advantage.

Companies that capitalize on data will scale, those who do not will fail. Speaking about the hurricanes, they mentioned that Walmart and Target were receiving huge shipments of Pop-Tarts, as they know that they are a staple during hurricanes.

Many businesses think that big data is reserved for enterprise-level companies; but tools have gotten cheaper, talent has gotten more affordable, and data has become more plentiful. One of the goals of Praxis is to bring those big, enterprise-level insights down to the SMB market and help them see hockey-stick growth.

Before you begin investing in your data though, it’s important that you know where you should invest your money. That is where the data maturity spectrum comes into play.

What is the data maturity spectrum?

The data maturity spectrum helps you identify where you are, and what your current data priorities should be.

The Foundation Stage-

In the foundation stage, everything revolves around tracking. You can’t analyze data if you don’t have data; so you need to make sure that you gather the data that you need in this stage.

Praxis Metrics- Data maturity stage one

Many companies ignore this step until they’re looking to move to the next stage. Unfortunately, by that time they’ve lost out on all of their historical data. We see many businesses come to us that want to build out amazing dashboards, but we discover that they haven’t tracked the data until this point. That means that they have lost out on years of data that could provide crucial context to the data that they gather from here forward.

Too many businesses want to get started, and push to start selling before they set up their tracking; but they need to realize that you cannot retroactively track. Any changes that you make to your tracking only adds data moving forward, and any data that you missed out on previously is lost.

Revenues do not determine your place on the data maturity scale, the only thing that matters on this scale is how well you handle your data.

What are the questions that you will have in the future?

You need to think on what things you may want to know in the future, and start tracking those things today. It may seem tedious right now, but in the future, it may drive your success.

Typically, the cost of marketing far outweighs the cost of taking the time to track these things. Tracking can inform and optimize your marketing budget, allowing greater success than previously imaginable.

What are the metrics and behaviors that allow for rapid scaling?

Automation-

Phase two of the data maturity spectrum is automation. What compound interest is to your money, automation is to your time.

Automation increases efficiency, accuracy, and profitability of organizations. Automation is one of the primary drivers of rapid scaling and growth.

Customer Lifetime Value-

Understanding the lifetime value of your customers is one of the keys to rapidly scaling. The business that can afford to spend more on their customers will win every time. Understanding the value of your customers over time allows you to predict break-even points and therefore allows you to determine higher acceptable acquisition costs than those who base their spend exclusively off initial order value.

Why do averages suck?

By definition, averages pull in all of your data, the highs and the lows, and gives you one number. You don’t want to base your decisions off just one number though. The 80/20 rule applies to almost everything in life, and business is no exception. An average will hide the 80% of things that do nothing for your business behind the 20% of things that actually drive your results. We want to know what falls into the 20% category so that we can eliminate the 80% scale the 20% that works! Averages keep you growing at a steady pace; we want to deliver explosive, hockey-stick growth.

Too many businesses treat all of their customers the same way; whether they came in and spent a dollar, or a thousand. In order to scale though, you need to invest time and effort into your customers in proportion to the value that they bring to your organization.

Once you know where your most valuable customers come from, and how to properly target them, you can essentially print money for your business.

What should ecommerce companies know about their business?

Ecommerce companies should know what technology stacks they use in their business, and how those technologies handle data.

Amazon is a wonderful example of this. In the last couple of months, they have completely changed their terms of service (ToS) to restrict the data that merchants can access. Amazon collects a vast amount of data on the customers that come to your store and purchase, but they will now only allow you to see certain parts of that data. The worst part is that this is not unique to Amazon. Platforms across the web and world are cracking down on the data that they share with third parties. Because of this, you NEED to know how the companies that you work with handle data.

What should you do to protect against data loss?

You need to make sure that you either own the data completely, or that you have a backup of the data stored off of these platforms. In the podcast, we discuss how these platforms are your “frenemy”. They may seem nice, but the relationship can turn on a dime; so you need a backup plan.

As data becomes more and more scarce and consolidated within platforms, the value of that data will increase dramatically. For that reason, it’s imperative that you take ownership over your data and protect it from outside sources that would limit your access to it.

What sort of subscription metrics should ecommerce companies look at?

We see so many companies come to us and ask what their average subscription length is. As we already discussed, averages are evil.

Instead, we build a chart that shows how many cancellations they have per day. If you have an average, it will tell you that your average subscription length is 60 days; this chart will show you that 30% of your cancellations occurred between day 3 and 7, so you can take action during that time period to reduce that churn.

Everyone wants to increase the average, but the average in and of itself doesn’t help with that. You need granular detail in order to actually make an impact.

What are the next steps?

The first step is to start investing in your data. No matter where you fall on the data maturity spectrum, it’s important to start investing time, energy, or money into advancing your data.

If you need help diagnosing where you fall on the data maturity spectrum, or how to get to the next level, we can help you discover where you fall on the data maturity spectrum, and build a custom data roadmap for your business. Schedule a free appointment with a Praxis Metrix data expert.

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- LTV business scaling

What is customer lifetime value, and how does it impact my business?

What does LTV mean, and how does it impact my business?

LTV stands for customer lifetime value, and measuring it can revolutionize your business.

Most businesses determine their ad spend based off their return on investment from said ad spend. Unfortunately though, many people calculate the return on ad spend (ROAS) exclusively based off the initial order value. If you calculate your ROAS exclusively based off initial purchase value, you are most likely missing out on explosive growth, just like our client Danette May. See the video below to hear more about their story:

As you can see from that video, knowing the true lifetime value of their customers made all of the difference for them. They couldn’t scale that funnel reliably without increasing their budget; but they thought that they couldn’t increase the budget on the funnel and still have an allowable ROAS. They had made all of these calculations based off the initial order value though. By widening their scope and tracking the lifetime value of those customers, they realized that they could still get an allowable ROAS even if they increased their budget.

Upon increasing their ad spend, they were able to scale up that funnel tremendously and they went from 15 sales per day to over 200 sales per day in less than a month. Since this video was recorded, they went as high as 600 sales per day and are now averaging about 300 sales per day. That is the power of knowing your true customer lifetime value.

How does LTV impact finance?

While LTV in and of itself can completely change the way that you view customer journey’s and their acquisition costs, the true power of customer LTV comes when you combine it with a few other metrics. Once you know the true value of your customers, the next thing that you need to know is the true cost of goods sold on what you sell. To get the true cost of goods sold for your products, you need to roll in everything, legitimately everything. You need to break down the cost of every employee, all of your overhead, every cost that your business has needs to be tied into this metric.

Once you know the true LTV of your clients, and your true cost of goods sold (COGS), you can now start to look at how much money you make off each client and each product that you sell. You may find that on some funnels you’re not profitable off the initial purchase, but that the clients come back and repurchase multiple times over several months, making that customer profitable overall. From there, the finance team can determine acceptable timetables for profitability. Some businesses have funnels that they know will not turn a profit for several months, but they know that it will be profitable within a certain acceptable time frame for them as well.

Once you know the acceptable profitability time frame, you can begin to work out an acceptable cost per acquisition, which leads us into our next section:

How does LTV impact marketing?

Now that you know the path to profitability and the timeline for it; you can begin to look at how much you can acceptably spend on advertising costs. By studying your cost per acquisition (CPA), you can understand how much ad spend you will need in order to get one person to convert. From there, you can rework this into your established cost of goods sold, and look at your timeline for profitability. We recommend that you find the absolute maximum allowable CPA, and then make sure that you stay underneath that threshold.

The next step in your journey is to get even more granular in how you measure your customer lifetime value. Since your allowable acquisition cost is based off the lifetime value of your clients, it makes sense to break out the lifetime value based off where they came from as well.

In this next video, we show you exactly what that looks like.

As shown in the video, clients who come from different referral sources behave differently. They may be interested in different things based off the type of content that drove them to your site. This will affect the items that they buy, and in turn, their lifetime value as your customer. You can also take this analysis even further by segmenting your customer LTV based off the initial item that they purchased.

How can I start tracking the LTV of my customers?

The hardest part of finding the true LTV of your customers is extracting all of the data from all of the disparate systems. The average small business uses at least nine different systems to track different things, though many have more than that. In order to get a clear picture on the true LTV of all of your customers, you need to gather all of that data. This is a tedious, difficult process known as ETL (Extract, Transform, Load).

The first step of ETL is data extraction. It takes a lot of time to extract data from all of the disparate systems, but it’s rather simple to do. From there, you need to make sure that all of the data meshes together properly. This leads us into the transformation stage.

Transforming data requires a lot of time and mental energy to complete. Each system tracks things differently, so you have to go through and realign the data to make sure that it matches properly between the different tracking systems.

The last stage is the simplest stage and, generally speaking, the one that everyone jumps to. The load stage consists of taking your new, clean data and loading it into a visualization tool so that you can see all of the information that you have gathered in one place.

Many people jump straight to the load phase and get a data visualization tool without having the previous two steps, and that leaves them with a pretty dashboard that doesn’t tell them anything new. The process of ETL is VITAL for you to find your true LTV and of paramount importance for you to propel your business forward.

If you need help with this, we have helped countless businesses go through this process. Simply fill out the Praxis Metrics free data strategy session form, and we can talk about the unique needs of your business and how we can help you turn your data into growth.

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/

Praxis Metrics- Chatbot KPI's

4 Fantastic KPI’s that you should be using in your chatbot marketing

How do I measure the effectiveness of my chatbot marketing?

We decided to have a “chat” with the king of Facebook marketing, Curt Maly, to get his thoughts.

Curt is a social marketing expert, owner of multiple online marketing businesses, consultant and national speaker joins us today with his vast knowledge of all things marketing data related.

What are the benefits of chatbots?

People generally react faster to the notifications from a Facebook message than to notifications about an email. Not every customer responds positively though, most people tend to the extremes in their feelings towards these messages: they either love them or they hate them.

Another benefit of using chatbots in marketing is that they help to automate out customer service. Chatbots essentially create auto-responders within an AI platform, allowing you to dedicate your time and resources elsewhere.

Chatbots also help decrease the necessity of traditional funnels. You can utilize chatbots to move your clients from one point of the traditional funnel to the next without needing to set up traditional stages. Rather than segmenting people into phases like a traditional funnel, chatbots allow you to just have a conversation with the client and naturally progress them through their journey.

How hard is it to set up chatbots?

Just like funnels, you can make chatbots as simple or as complex as you would like. Creating a basic chatbot requires minimal knowledge, and only needs a few options for auto-response. Essentially you just need to think through a standard conversation that happens on a sales call or customer service call, and input the different variables into the chatbot.

KPI #1- Cost per Acquisition

This is the amount of money that it takes for someone to engage with your message. You can find this information by dividing your ad spend across the total number of new messages that you get. Facebook will try to conflate this data with Cost per Reply, but that will give you an inaccurate picture of your actual cost per acquisition.

KPI #2- Cost per Reply

Facebook will track this metric automatically for you. It’s a very important metric to keep top of mind, because it can help you understand the cost of re-engaging a lead that you fell out of contact with.

KPI #3- Cost per Open

This metric matches up nicely to open rates on email, with one difference: most people see at least an 80% “open rate” on Facebook messages. This happens because if someone browses Facebook on their browser, the message will automatically open, inflating the open rate.

KPI #4- Click Through Rate

Click through rates on Facebook messenger generally align very closely with email click through rates. Most people will see between 6-10% click through rates on Facebook messages. Many people mistakenly claim that they get better click through rates through Facebook messenger. In reality, they are generally getting more leads than from email, due to the increased open rate of Facebook messages.