Reduce waste and scale using data

How to reduce waste and scale using data

AJ and Meaghan recently appeared on the Nice Guys on Business Podcast. It was an awesome conversation that covered everything from tracking and gathering data all the way to how to use data to improve relationships.

Check out the full episode below along with our insights:

What is data, and how does it affect business?

A lot of people glaze over when they hear “data talk” coming at them. That is a natural response to something that seems very complicated and difficult to understand. For that reason, we want to simplify data and point out that data is just points of information.

Data isn’t just ones and zeros or spreadsheets; data is about helping you make better decisions in your business. Throughout history, people have looked up to their wise elders to help them make decisions. The wise elders were the ones who had the most data and information to draw on. Nothing has changed today; the smartest people and companies leverage data the best.

Data is everywhere and can be used for almost everything

As we move more and more of our lives into the digital world, we create more and more data. As businesses have started aggregating and analyzing that data, some have developed the ability to see into the future.

They actually haven’t; but sometimes it feels like that. From Target accurately predicting that women were pregnant before they knew, to Amazon knowing exactly what you want to buy next; companies that use data properly can hyper-target their customers at exactly the right moment.

Analytics, metrics, and KPIs -Is that data?

Yes and no; analytics and metrics are just names for different types of data; and KPIs are specific metrics of data.

When it comes to data, the first thing you have to do with data is track it. Most businesses have some tracking and data under their belts, the problem is that they have too much of it. That is where KPIs come into play. KPIs, or key performance indicators help businesses narrow in on the metrics that make the biggest difference for them.

So while all three of those things take part in the data ecosystem; data is just information.

I now understand data, now how do I use it in my business?

The Nice Guys focus primarily on sales, so we focused our answer on sales organizations; but the principles apply to all businesses.

No matter what your data initiative, the end goal is always to get someone to convert. For sales organizations, that means that you want more sales. In order to get more sales, you need to figure out what drives your sales.

Obviously, getting more leads should increase your sales; but leads are not created equal. You need to figure out what lead sources drive the best leads to your sales people, which sales people work best with which type of clients, what impact your marketing efforts have on the leads, etc.

Do I need to do all of that analysis myself?

Not at all. Becoming a data expert or data scientist should not be high on any business owner’s priority list. Praxis can help perform the heavy lifting, preparing and distilling the information down to the insights that you need to make changes in your business.

The last thing that we want to do is add more to your plate; so we work with business owners and marketers up front to determine what insights and data will help their organization the most. We start with metrics that can help you make decisions immediately to help your business.

Find the things that you need to track, not the things that other people tell you to track. Data does not have intrinsic value. Data is only useful in that it can provide insight into what actions you should take. If you don’t take action from the data, then it is not valuable to you.

Praxis helps you reduce waste

At Praxis, we like to say that we’re in the waste business. Our goal is to help other businesses reduce wasted time, effort, and money. Most waste in business comes from averages.

Averages are inherently evil because they mash together your highs and your lows and spit out one number. In order to reduce waste, you need to eliminate the lows and redirect those resources to the highs. That is the secret to scaling a business. By transitioning resources from underperforming areas to areas of overperformance, you can push your entire business into hyperdrive.

The fastest and easiest way to scale a business is to eliminate the things that aren’t working and shift those resources to the things that are working.

While running through that process of trimming the fat, you will find that your business and processes naturally simplify along the way. As you eliminate wasted time, energy, and money; you’ll naturally have more of all of those things.

Data is the key to rapid scaling

We live in dynamic times; in the past, businesses could rest on their laurels and remain successful. In today’s business landscape, industries can be disrupted by someone with a laptop. Businesses that don’t remain agile cannot compete with companies that shift and adapt.

The best way to know how and when to adapt is through data. Taking action from your data is the new competitive advantage. Those that capitalize on their data will scale, and those that don’t will fail. There are a myriad of case studies that almost anyone can cite of agile, data-driven companies taking on and toppling the incumbent industry leaders.

One of our favorite sayings is that every company today is a data company. If you’re not analyzing and taking action from your data, your competitor’s will, and they will eventually overtake you.

How does the lifetime value of customers impact my business?

As we talked about earlier, averages are evil. This goes doubly for the lifetime value (LTV) of your customers. We find that many businesses track the average LTV of their customers and think that they’re set with that.

One thing that we always ask clients before we build out any dashboards or metrics is what they’ll do with the information once they have it. If you knew today that your average customer subscribes to your product or service for 5 months, what would you do with that information?

Would you contact every client right around the 5 month mark in order to try to keep them on with you?

The problem with that is that by the 5 month mark, you’ve already lost half of your clients. And those that stuck around probably weren’t looking to cancel right at the 5 month mark.

In order to make the data truly actionable, you need to know when individuals purchase or leave. You need to know what affects those individual’s purchasing decisions, and then try to impact them on an individual level.

How do I get started with all of this?

The best way to get started with data is to schedule a data strategy session with Praxis. During that call, we can walk through your technologies, goals, and data needs.

After talking with you, we can help you create a data roadmap of how to move forward with your data initiatives.

All of our data strategy sessions are completely free. At Praxis we are very purpose driven, so we want to make sure that we can help as many people as possible through data.

If you’d like to learn more about our products and services, you can see some of the metrics and dashboards that we can create for you here.

How ecommerce companies can turn data into growth

How ecommerce companies can turn data into growth

Meaghan and AJ were invited to speak with Alex Brown, founder of Ecommerce Rockstars. They cover everything from data foundations to predictive analytics, so don’t miss out! Check out the full interview and our insights below:

Data shouldn’t be scary

When businesses think about data, most of them think of massive data warehouses with AI and machine learning algorithms. While that may be something to strive for, that’s not data. Data is simply information. Every business has information; now more than ever.

Praxis wants to help businesses find ways to leverage the data that they already have to make better decisions. We always say that we’re in the waste business. We help eliminate wasted time, effort, and money.

The goal of any data project should be to answer your business questions. We want to help businesses answer the questions that will help them scale. Whether your ecommerce business is just getting started, or if you’ve been in business for a few years; this can help you figure out what next steps to take and how to grow your company.

The roadmap to data mastery

While the end goal may be to run massive data projects and collect granular data on every customer’s spending habits; we need to start at the beginning. The more information you have, the better decisions you can make; that means that the less data you have, the worse decisions you make.

That’s why Praxis built out the data maturity spectrum, to help businesses figure out where they stand, and then what to do next.

The data infancy stage

Most companies start in data infancy. They don’t have time or means to dedicate to data and analytics projects; so they put it off. We characterize this stage with a general “spray and pray” type of attitude. Businesses in this stage generally are just throwing ideas at the wall in order to see what sticks.

As they start to see what sticks, and what works and doesn’t work; they begin to lay the foundation for their data strategy. This moves them into the data foundation stage.

The data foundation stage

As businesses start to gather reports and notice patterns, they start to grow their data maturity. In the foundation phase, businesses start to track the cause and effects of their actions. Generally this involves manual reporting, pulling data from disparate sources into spreadsheets, and using complicated pivot tables to analyze the data.

We call this stage “spreadsheet hell”. Businesses in this stage generally have some automations when it comes to their reporting; but they often rely heavily on human input and data aggregation.

The data foundation stage is generally the phase in which businesses start to see explosive growth. Because they track what works and doesn’t work, they’re able to start replicating efforts and successes. In order to continue growing at the same rate, they’ll need to move up the scale of data maturity to the data optimization stage.

The data optimization stage

In the data optimization stage, businesses focus on automation. During this stage, businesses move away from manual reporting and begin to create automatic ETL processes. ETL stands for Extract, Transform, and Load. The idea behind this process is to extract the data from the different “sources of truth”. The source of truth is the place where the most accurate data on whatever you want to measure lives. For example, in the case of financial data, the source of truth would be your payment processor or bank account. For Source/Medium data, the best place to get that data would be Google Analytics.

Next, we need to transform the data as needed. Transformation of the data entails taking all of the data from your disparate sources, joining it and then cleaning it to make sure that it’s all tracking uniformly and the data is formatted properly.

From there, we load the data into a data visualization tool so that you can easily analyze and leverage your data into growth.

The end goal

The end goal of this entire process is getting you data that you can take action on. Data for the sake of data won’t do anything for your business; you need to take action from it. Having data and not taking action from it is like having an expensive race car and then never putting gas in it.

Going with the race car analogy, if you want the car to perform optimally, you need to put only the highest quality gasoline in the car. Your output is only as good as your inputs. The same is true with data; in order to get amazing insights from your data, you need to have clean data coming into your systems.

If you don’t know how to make sure that everything tracks properly, we recommend using a process called “Metrics Mapping”.

Metrics Mapping

The process of metrics mapping is actually pretty simple, and helps you gain clarity in what you need to track and how to use the data once you have it.

You start metrics mapping by defining your goals. As you can see in the example below, this company wanted to double their revenue year over year.

Metrics Mapping

From there, you need to figure out what questions you need answered in order to attain that goal. In this case, they need to know how to increase the conversions on their website.

Once you know the questions that you need to answer, it’s time to figure out what metrics can help you answer those questions. In this case, they decided that the metrics that would help them the most would be the conversion rates for each of their funnel stages, customer LTV, allowable CPAs, and channel profitability.

From there, you need to decide on a source of truth for each of those metrics. You can find funnel stage conversion rates through Google Analytics goals, enhanced ecommerce tracking, or event tracking. Lifetime values would be through your ecommerce platform. You would need to calculate allowable CPAs for your business based off your margins, COGS, and LTV. And finally, you can find channel profitability by tracking your CPAs, LTV, and COGS.

From there, you want to validate the data across as many sources as possible and make sure that your sources of truth align. Then you can begin the process of applying your calculations and loading it into a data visualization tool.

If you’re not able to track any of these metrics, then you can know exactly where you need to focus your tracking and figure out a platform that will help you track those metrics.

Lead with revenue

Every data project should help you make more money. If you’re running a data project to get a metric that is “nice to have” or “nice to know” then you’re likely wasting your time, energy, and money.

As we talked about before, you need an action tied to your data. If something changes, you need to know what you’ll do, and who will do it. Once you have action tied to metrics, it becomes much easier to determine the value of that metric. For example, if you can get a 10% increase in the lifetime value of your customers, you can easily calculate out the value of that kind of change for your business.

The key when determining KPIs is figuring out which ones are the most feasible and deliver the maximum impact. As shown in the chart below, we want to focus on the things that drive the highest business value and are the easiest things to implement for your business.

The key is to make sure that you don’t work on data projects just because you can. Those belong in the bottom right quadrant and should be treated as the second to lowest priority for the organization.

Praxis Metrics Feasibility Quadrant

The beauty of this chart and this process is that as you implement your data projects and improve your data processes, you can increase the feasibility of future projects.

The big data secret

The biggest secret when it comes to data projects is that no matter the size of the company, everyone wants the same information. They want to know how to decrease their waste and increase their bottom line. The easiest way to do that is to ask the right questions, you can just run down the rest of the metrics mapping process.

Too many SMBs think that they don’t have enough data to compete at scale with large companies, but today everyone’s cell phones have big data. We had a client that had 4 million rows of data stored in the back end of his payment processor; and that was just a couple months worth of data.

Almost every tool the businesses use store data, and every data point can help deliver valuable insights. We have found that most small businesses have a treasure trove of data available to them, but they don’t realize it.

Every company is a data company

If you’re not looking at your data and finding ways to better optimize your company, your competitors likely are. We have seen massive giants fall by the wayside because they failed to take appropriate action off their data.

The time to start taking action off your data is now. At very least, start setting up your tracking, or aggregating data. Even if you’re not ready to use it yet, you’ll be grateful to have it when you are ready to tackle big data projects.

Another great place to get started is with your North Star Metrics. These are metrics that all other metrics rely on. For Airbnb, their North Star metric is nights booked on the site. The more nights they have booked, the better their overall business does. For Facebook, they look at active daily users; this allows them to keep their finger on the pulse of usage of the site and retention over time.

You may not have time to run down and figure out all of the KPIs that impact your business; but you can figure out the one. Take the time to figure out your North Star Metric, and start tracking that. You can start to map out the trends, look for causation, figure out what drives it up and down. This is an easy way to get started with a data project, and helps establish value for future data projects.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel

Dashboards and data visualization tools have been a hot topic as of late. Lots of businesses jump in to the world of data visualization and end up getting an expensive platform that ends up just displaying data that was readily available on other platforms, or they get a powerful business intelligence tools that they can’t fully utilize.

Praxis helps businesses incubate their dashboards under our umbrella. We offer several pre-built dashboards that can answer some of the most important business questions. Once you have gleaned value from those dashboards, we want to help you graduate into custom dashboards that answer questions specific to your business.

If you’re not sure where to start, we offer free data strategy calls where we can walk through and help you diagnose where you are now, and help you figure out how to get to where you want.

How to turn your data into explosive sales growth

How to turn your data into explosive sales growth

The co-founders of Praxis Metrics, AJ Yager and Meaghan Connell, recently went on the Brand Secrets and Strategies Podcast with Daniel Lohman. It was a great podcast episode that we wanted to share here.

Check out the full episode along with our insights below:

What is Praxis Metrics?

Praxis is a data analytics agency. Essentially, they help companies that are scaling but that don’t yet have the resources to build out a full IT or Business Intelligence team. Praxis helps them to leverage their data to scale, at a fraction of the regular price. Once the businesses have scaled to the point of having the resources to hire a team, Praxis moves to support them with the backlog. This allows businesses to remain adaptable and agile, even as they scale.

So how did Praxis get started?

Praxis Metrics started as a department within a marketing agency. Meaghan and AJ ran a successful marketing agency, but found that one of their best employees had to spend all of his time creating reports for clients. They starting researching ways that they could automate their reporting, and stumbled into the world of business intelligence.

They rolled out their reporting solution to their clients, and the clients immediately started asking if they could roll it out for their whole business. AJ and Meaghan decided to launch Praxis as the “data division” of their marketing agency; but the data division expanded so quickly that they had to decide which business they wanted to focus on. They found that businesses desperately needed data services, so they decided to pivot into that. The rest, as they say, is history.

Every company a data company

If you’ve followed Praxis for any length of time, you’ve probably already heard that data recently became the most valuable resource on the planet. In today’s competitive market, your competitive advantage often comes from the insights that you have on your customers. The more data that you have on your customers, the greater an advantage that you have.

Small businesses often have a treasure trove of data, but don’t know how to access it. Most businesses use a myriad of systems, none of which communicate with one another. This causes data-silos, which small businesses rarely have the time to dig through in order to capture valuable insights.

In today’s business landscape, lots of businesses are encouraged to focus on raising money. They’re told that the best way to scale is to raise money, then raise more money, and then some more money. While they focus on raising money, they’re supposed to hand the operations of their company over to an agency.

Dan believes that it’s much more important for business owners to understand their business inside and out. They need to know what drives sales, the pitfalls and struggles of the business, and the key factors to success. Because the landscape today is so competitive, you need to know the ins and outs of your business and your customers.

The challenge of today

The business landscape constantly evolves and changes; now more than ever. The only way to prevent getting left behind now is to develop an omni-channel presence. It used to be that you could stick strictly to wholesale, or retail, or ecommerce; but now you need to talk to your consumer everywhere. In today’s digital economy, even businesses that run exclusively brick-and-mortar stores need to advertise their products and services online. And not just online, but everywhere online.

When advertising online, especially in an omni-channel fashion, you need to make sure that you’re tracking your efforts effectively. That means that you have to have UTMs set up for all of your marketing efforts, your attribution models fine tuned, and your KPIs well defined.

Data is a big reason for the sudden push to become omni-channel. In a traditional wholesale business, you sell your products to the retail stores, and that concludes the transaction for you. The retailer collects all of the data on who purchases your products, what other products they purchase,and how often they purchase. Because everyone has started to recognize the value of data, traditional wholesalers now want to make sure that they also gather this data. That’s why we see so many businesses pivoting into the B2C and ecommerce models. This transition allows them to also gather data on their clients, and reduces their reliance on the retailers.

A rising tide lifts all ships

Meaghan points out in the video that Praxis has clients that will run 6-figure ad buys in specific geographic areas in order to drive people to their retailers. While we recommend owning as much of your data as possible, you can still find ways to gather consumer data and strengthen your business relationships. These businesses are able to gather data on the people most likely to interact with their ads; while simultaneously driving more traffic to their partner’s store.

This creates what we like to refer to as the “Lift-effect” or “expanding the pie”. The lift-effect is when everyone wins based off one smart decision. Rather than creating a zero-sum situation where the only way for one group to win is by taking from another, you can create scenarios in which everyone benefits. You should check out our real-world example of this from Organifi.

The cost of data

With all of the free tracking tools available, you can get a massive amount of data with very minimal investment. Some people maintain the mindset of yesteryear that data and big data is reserved for large, enterprise companies; but today everyone has massive data in their cell phones. You can easily gain a treasure trove of insights on every visitor to your site with almost no up-front costs, other than time.

Additionally, you can get creative with your data gathering. We had one client who created a massive database for their social media posts. They simply went through all of their previous social media posts and tagged them with meta-data on the location of the image, type of shot, color of the product, etc. By creating this database, they tracked what types of posts were most effective across different seasons. This allowed them to dramatically increase the effectiveness of their social media marketing.

Syndicated marketing data can still be extremely expensive; however you can still get massive amounts of public data for very cheap or even free. For example, Walmart knows that when hurricanes are reported, they see a spike in strawberry Pop-tarts sold. While Walmart tracked the sales of the Pop-tarts, it wasn’t until they joined that data with the public weather data that they saw the correlation.

Data as an investment

Most of what Praxis does for clients is education. We have to change the way that people think about their data. Too many people either live in fear of the data, or they view it as a cost center. In reality, it’s an asset. You wouldn’t view a gold vein as a cost center just because you had to mine it in order to get the value out of it.

Praxis has yet to have a client that couldn’t turn their data into exponential growth. There more information that you have, the better you can run your business, target and acquire customers, and increase your profitability. Many businesses think that data isn’t sexy or fun; but it may be the most sexy and fun part of a business. The best way to scale your business is through data.

Praxis specializes in turning the raw, boring numbers into the sexy insights that can help transform businesses into powerhouses. We do this by delivering metrics that actually drive results rather than vanity metrics. The best way to identify the metrics that can drive your business forward is through a process called “Metrics Mapping”.

Metrics Mapping

Metrics Mapping

As you can see, the process of metrics mapping starts with establishing your goals. From there, you need to figure out what questions you need to answer in order to hit that goal. In this example, we need to know how to increase conversions for the site.

From there, we drill down to see what numbers will help you answer that question. In this example, we need to know conversion rates, customer LTV, our acquisition costs, and profitability by channel. These numbers will help us figure out how much we can spend to acquire new customers, where we should spend that money, and how soon we can expect to see returns on our ad spend.

The next step of metrics mapping is determining the “source of truth” for each of those metrics. The source of truth is the place where the most accurate information on that metric will live. For financial data, that would be your bank account or your payment processor. For traffic source data, Google Analytics is your best bet.

From there, we focus on a process called ETL. ETL stands for extract, transform, and load. We extract the data from the many sources where it lives; transform it by making sure that everything is tracking the same information, and that they’re all on the same scale. From there, we load the data into a data visualization tool.

By following that process, we’re able to take data from raw numbers into insights that allow businesses to scale off their data. This allows businesses to change the way that they behave, decrease their waste, and increase their revenues.

Move beyond what happened, and into why

Once you have a solid understanding of what has happened in your business, you can start moving into the why. This is the most important shift that a business can make. Once you gain a solid understanding of your customers and their behaviors, you can start to look into why they react the way that they do. Once you understand that, you can start to move away from looking to the past, and start looking to the future.

This is the goal of all of your data projects. We want to get you to the point where you know that if you do x, it will yield y. At that point, you can start printing money.

Predictive analytics don’t happen overnight. You need to have an extremely robust data set in order to make accurate predictions. That means that your tracking and data storage need to be put together properly so that your insights are accurate.

The waste business

Praxis is in the waste business. We work with brands to help them eliminate waste and increase their revenues. Too many businesses only focus on the top-line revenue and increasing that. They don’t look into the ways that they can boost the bottom-line profitability without increasing their spending. Praxis helps businesses find the 80% of things that aren’t driving results for the business. Once they cut that waste, they can redirect that waste to the 20% of things that are driving their revenues.

Just doing that can drive exponential scaling. We’ve seen clients explode off just that information alone. Whoever can spend the most to acquire a customer will win every time. You can see how just this information helped Danette May transform their business.

Optimization vs elimination

So many businesses focus on doing more of what’s working; not enough focus on the elimination of waste. If you can reduce your overhead or reduce your COGS, you can increase your profitability across the board.

Praxis Metrics ran through this issue a few years ago. We were stuck working in the business rather than on the business. Thankfully, AJ and Meaghan set aside 2 weeks every year to review the data for the company. We were operating at a 3% profit margin, despite the fact that we had glowing customer testimonials and good top-line revenue.

They looked into the company to figure out what was eating up our margins, and discovered that Praxis was marking too many hours as non-billable to the client. This allowed us to deliver amazing results to the client, but the company was unable to profit off our amazing work. As soon as we found this out and started to focus on charging for the hours that we worked, we went from a 3% profit margin to a 30% profit margin in 3 months.

Every business is just one data-driven decision away from exponential growth. You just need to find the number that will drive the results that you’re looking for.

Don’t cut your ham

Dan gave a great anecdote about a radio announcer who visited his son’t house for dinner. The daughter-in-law cut the ends of the ham before cooking it, so the announcer asked her why she did that. She responded that her mother always did that before cutting ham. The mother happened to be there and responded that she did that so that the ham would fit into her small pan.

Too often we do things just because that’s the way that it’s always been done. By getting deep into your data, you can find the areas that you have sold yourself short, or cost yourself opportunities.

One way that we can proverbially cut the ham is in the amount of data that we collect. Too many businesses just settle for basic tracking items. As we discussed earlier, we had one client create their own database of the different styles of social posts that they use. Another one of our clients used data in their branding commercials. This client wanted to track the effectiveness of humor in ads and when they needed to place the humor in order to maximize the effect.

They ran split tests on the different variants of the ad to see which was the most effective with time tags of when they used different types of humor. They then overlaid this data with watch times, click through rates, and purchase behaviors in order to see how humor impacted their consumers.

Talk to your customers

One thing that every brand can work on is making sure that they are talking to their customers and not at them. Often times, marketers get wrapped up in the story that they want to tell; but it’s important to remember that your product is not the hero of the story. Your customer is the hero of their story; you are just the guide, leading them to a better life.

In order to lead them, you need to make sure that your message is extremely clear. You need to tell them exactly what they need to do in order to get the most out of your products and services. Give them explicit directions on their next steps. You want to make their life as easy as possible, so guide them on the things that they should do and the things that they need to do in order to get the most out of your product.

Where to start

The first thing that every business needs to do is figure out where they stand and where they want to go. You need to run an audit of your systems and processes as they currently stand and then outline where you want them to be. That will fill in your goals section of your metrics mapping journey.

Once you know where you are and where you want to go, the next step is simply asking how you’re going to get there. Figure out the action steps that you need to take now and map out the journey that you want to take. Once you know your journey, you should ask for help where you need it.

So many professionals feel like if they ask for help they have somehow failed. That is not the case. It’s much worse to settle for what you think is possible than to ask for help and achieve the impossible.

Find your tribe

The first thing that you need to do is figure out who you want to target. Who are the customers that won’t just use your product, but that love your product, use it frequently, and will recommend it? You need to find the commonalities between those consumers, figure out the persona, and then figure out how to talk to and engage them. If you can nail that down, then you’re well on your way to success.

In conclusion

This podcast was very dense in ideas and action steps that you can take. If you need help taking action on any of the things that we covered here, we would love to help. If you fill out this form, we can help you figure out where you are, where you want to go, and help you set up that map.

How ecommerce companies can use data for better decision-making

How ecommerce companies can use data for better decision-making

Data is now the most valuable resource on the planet.

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

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

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

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

Understand your customers

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

Overattribution

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

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

UTMs

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

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

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

Multi-touch attribution

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

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

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

Purchasing behaviors

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

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

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

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

Understand your costs

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

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

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

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

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

Praxis Metrics data ownership

The importance of data ownership

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

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

Check out our insights and conversation below:

Data- Amazing, but creepy

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

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

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

Find a strategy that works for you

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

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

The primary victim of the data crackdown

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

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

The solution:

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

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

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

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

Attribution modeling

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

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

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

Data ownership

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

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

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

Take action from your data

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

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

Don’t take too quick of action though

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

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

The most important metrics

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

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

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

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

How to 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.

Praxis Metrics ways your eCommerce loading speeds can impact your bottom line

Ways your eCommerce loading speeds can impact your bottom line

Holidays are almost here and getting ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday is crucial.

In the latest episode of the Data Rich podcast, AJ Yager and Spencer Connell talked with Robert Rand about how you can prepare your eCommerce store for the holidays.

Check out the interview and our insights below:

Why is data important?

Everything in eCommerce is a blend of art and science. The numbers tell the story of how people feel about your art. Without going back and checking on the numbers, you’ll never know how your efforts actually panned out.

Many people don’t think about getting the right metrics and the right data in front of them, and that comprises half of the battle. Most of the biggest companies in the world rely and thrive based off of their data and the infrastructure that they’ve built around that data. Both Robert and the Praxis team derive a lot of value from helping other businesses harness the power of the data and leverage it into growth.

Every company today is a data company; they just don’t know it yet. The only way to properly scale in today’s environment is to know your numbers and leverage them into growth. That doesn’t mean that everyone needs to be a data expert, but it does mean that without data, the journey to a successful company is nearly impossible.

What opportunities does Black Friday/ Cyber Monday afford brands?

Every year Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending grows dramatically, and this year is no exception. Experts predict a 25% increase in spending year-over-year, with most of that spending taking place online. The days of stampedes of people rushing into stores have passed, and now even brick and mortar stores find themselves primarily as eCommerce businesses.

Brands now need to prepare their digital storefronts more than their physical storefronts for the stampedes.

How can eCommerce companies prepare their digital storefronts for the big end of the year sales rush?

You can run the best marketing campaigns ever created with the best automation capabilities ever devised, but if your website has issues converting web traffic into sales, you won’t achieve the ROI you’ve come to expect from many proven marketing strategies.

Without monitoring for site performance and issues, there can be all sorts of factors impacting your bottom line.

What are the top factors?

☑ Security: How healthy, safe, and secure is your website?

You never want to have a security or data breach, but during the holiday season a breach could obliterate your opportunities.

Every business should make sure that their eCommerce platform has the latest security patches downloaded and installed. It’s also important to make sure that your software and hosting is completely up-to-date. You need to make sure to calibrate and update firewalls as well. Ideally, you should have proactive monitoring in place to alert you to any suspicious activity.

The same way that you protect a physical store from people breaking in, you need to protect your digital store as well.

For example, in the event of a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack, you need to have CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) or Caching systems in place to ease the load on your hosting environment. For bigger merchants, you’ll want to have auto-scaling systems or host in a cloud environment like AWS that can spin up to deal with whatever gets thrown at it.

In addition to adding reactive layers to your security, you need to have pro-active layers as well to recognize and block suspicious traffic from reaching your hosting environment.

In the event that your security does fail, you need to have a short-list of the people that you can contact depending on the situation. It’s important to know that these people will be available to help as well, even over the holidays.

Doesn’t my eCommerce provider handle security?

Out of the box, no. Most eCommerce providers offer a layer of security and help to encrypt payment information and things like that, but they don’t protect you completely. You need to supplement that with your own security coverage. As the eCommerce owner, you have a responsibility to protect your passwords. Additionally, you have to take responsibility for the code of the site. Just because their base portion of the site is secure, doesn’t mean that your entire site is secure.

This same principle extends to any apps/extensions/modules that you may have added on to your site. Every app that you add has the possibility of introducing a security flaw into your site.

How can I protect my site?

Some of the best practices that you can implement include:

Least privileged access- give apps/employees/vendors only access to what they absolutely need in order to function properly.

Minimize the number of apps on your site- remove plugins from your site that don’t provide sufficient value. They can slow down your site, and do increase your security risks.

Proactive monitoring and alerts- set up alerts so that you can know in real-time when you have a problem.

Support action plan- make sure that if something goes wrong, you know who to contact.

Coding freeze- If your site is working currently, stop messing with it until after the holidays. This protects you from introducing new bugs or security holes into your site before the holiday.

☑ Scalability: Can you handle a growing amount of web traffic?

Many vendors offer this service, but JetRails specifically offers load testing. This allows them to simulate an influx of traffic to your site to see how it performs under pressure.

During the holiday season especially, this can mean the difference between success and failure. These tests allow you to see where you have structural issues with your site, and how you can combat them.

JetRails is offering a limited-time load test to Magento merchants for free through Praxis Metrics. Visit them here to get the free test.

☑ Loading speed: Does your site load in under three seconds?

Many merchants know that site speed is important, but they don’t really invest in it. They don’t regularly check their site speed, they don’t invest into speeding up the site, and over time, site speed can cause a plethora of issues, especially on mobile. 53% of mobile users will leave a site if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

You can optimize your load speed by looking at several things on your site. The first thing to look at when it comes to load speed is your content. Make sure that you have shrunk all of your images to the smallest file size possible without sacrificing quality.

When it comes to loading speed on your site, everything comes down to file sizes. If you can reduce the size of the information that you’re sending, then you can increase your load speed times. This applies to both images and the code that you have on your site.

It’s important to audit your theme to make sure that it still fits your needs as you update and change your site. Make sure that it properly and quickly loads the assets that you need it to.

Additionally, there are programs that can help combine files to help reduce the loading speed of your site. These can combine all of your JavaScript or CSS or HTML assets into a single file, to help lighten the number of things that your site needs to load.

Just because it was optimized before doesn’t mean that it is now.

Too many business professionals think that optimization is a one time endeavor. Unfortunately, every change that you make on your site can effect the loading speed of your site. That’s why it’s so important to do a periodic audit of your site’s optimization and loading speed, to make sure that everything performs as intended.

Does my web host have any effect on loading speed?

Unfortunately, yes. In addition to looking at the front-end loading of your site, you also need to look at how the back end of your site affects your load speed; specifically your web hosting.

JetRails tests a metric called “time to first byte”, which allows them to look at how quickly the server is able to provide the first byte of data to the browser. Some servers can take 2-3 seconds to get the first byte to the browser, which means that obviously something isn’t working on the back end of the site.

Fortunately, there are things that we can do to make sure that our web host gets the content delivered in a timely manner.

The first thing that we recommend is caching. This allows your server to essentially have all of the assets that it needs to pull together already put in one place, which decreases the load times and computing power required.

The next thing that you should utilize to help your web host is a content delivery network (CDN). A CDN allows you to save some of your unchanging assets onto different servers across the globe. This reduces the time that it takes to transmit the data to different locations across the globe, and it also allows you to have cached versions prepared and ready to send. This also reduces the load on your primary server, helping reduce the risk of a crash.

☑ Error monitoring: Spot and fix pages that aren’t loading

During the slow times on your website, it is valuable to have your web developers check your error logs and exceptions to see what errors could be lurking. We see a lot of people who wait until something breaks to fix it, but proactive maintenance can protect against a terrible issue. Specifically ramping up to this big holiday season, it’s important to make sure that you don’t have a problem that could potentially cost you customers.

☑ Shared resources: Is it time to adopt a dedicated server?

Long-term, it may make sense to move to a dedicated hosting environment. In shared hosting environments, you can’t control the actions of those sharing your space. If another site introduces a security breach to the server, it can affect your site. If someone else on the server has a major traffic spike, they can eat up all of the resources and slow down your site.

No one wants to spend more than they need to spend on anything; so it’s important to weigh out the pros and cons of each option for your business. You should also make sure that you revisit this discussion periodically as your business grows and develops. Just because it wasn’t worth it to migrate a few years ago doesn’t mean that it isn’t now.

☑ Uptime: How sure are you that you’ll be up 100% of the time?

Consumers have become less patient and more wary of sites that aren’t reliable in their eyes. If your site is down at the moment that the customer wanted to purchase, they’ll likely just move to a competitor to purchase.

Final thoughts and ways to take action-

Get a free load test from JetRails before the holidays. They’ll help you see if your site is ready for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday rush.

Proactively monitor your site, specifically the CTAs that we mentioned. Make sure that you’re checking in with both your developers, designers, and your web host to make sure that you’re site performs optimally across the board.

At the end of the day it comes down to picking the right vendors, trusting them, and sleeping well at night.

Resources:

Speed Test: Test your Time to First Byte (TTFB) and make loading speed optimization recommendations

Security Scan: Scan your Magento website for publicly visible security vulnerabilities

Load Test: Review with you to see if you’d benefit from a free load test  

Could Traffic Spikes Take Down your Magento site: https://jetrails.com/blog/could-traffic-spikes-take-down-your-magento-site/

Stats from Robert:

“As page load time goes from one second to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases 123%.” 

“53% of mobile site visits leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.”

https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/data-measurement/mobile-page-speed-new-industry-benchmarks/

“When it comes to waiting for pages to load, most consumers think they’re more patient than they actually are.”

“Nearly 70% of consumers admit that page speed impacts their willingness to buy from an online retailer.”

https://unbounce.com/page-speed-report/

“Black Friday pulled in $6.22 billion in online sales [last year], up 23.6 percent from [the previous year] and setting a new high, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks transactions for 80 of the top 100 internet retailers in the U.S. like Walmart and Amazon. Those figures arrived as many retailers have pushed big digital deals, days in advance of the holiday weekend.

The Friday after Thanksgiving [last] year was also the first day in history to see more than $2 billion in sales stemming from smartphones, said Adobe. The group found 33.5 percent of e-commerce sales Friday came from mobile devices, compared with 29.1 percent in 2017.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/24/black-friday-pulled-in-a-record-6point22-billion-in-online-sales-adobe.html

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.