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- Improve sales using data

How can I use data to improve my sales?

Do you have more data than you know what to do with?

Most businesses do. In today’s world, everything is tracked, and it produces an overwhelming amount of information. Today, most professionals have a harder time sifting through irrelevant data than they do collecting data.

That’s a problem that we wanted to address in this podcast. We wanted to tackle the question: “Now that I have the data that I want, what do I do with it?”.

It’s not about how much data you have, it’s about asking the right questions and then letting the data tell it’s story.

Time is the most valuable asset that we have, yet we don’t keep very good track of it. Most people go through their days not really thinking about how they spend their time, and not realizing all of the time that they waste in a day. You should spend as much time monitoring your time budget as you do your fiscal budget.

If you want to maximize your effectiveness and happiness, you need to find ways to maximize your time. We all want to increase our productivity and optimize the effectiveness of our time, but eventually we all reach our “optimal level”. At that point, if we want to keep progressing, the only thing left to do is to eliminate waste.

Whether or not we want to admit it to ourselves, wasting time is a huge part of our lives. By decreasing the time that we spend on non-income producing tasks, we can further optimize our time, increasing our time spent on actually valuable tasks. By refusing to track your time as carefully as you track your money, you often lie to yourself. You convince yourself that you spent your time wisely, when in reality, you could have done so much more.

Track your time for 24 hours a day across 2 weeks, and see the story it tells.

Break down your day into 15 minute increments and see exactly how you spent your time across those 2 weeks. Often times it paints a picture that you don’t want to see; but that’s the picture you need to see. By seeing exactly how much time you spend doing things that aren’t worth it, you can see how much more you are capable of.

One client found that they spent only 2.5 hours per day producing actual income for themselves. They spent the rest of the day doing tasks that they considered productive, but on further examination, they found that they had much more pressing things to deal with.

We can automate, delegate, or eliminate so many of the tasks that fill our days; making us more productive, or allowing us the freedom to follow a new passion.

We have data in our CRM’s, data coming from social media, data from our website; how do we sift through it and find the things that actually make a difference?

We found that most small to medium businesses have 15-18 different sources of data. We also found that those sources of data rarely talk to one another. This turns into a huge drain on your effectiveness and time, having to go between all the sources of data to find the information that you need.

The first thing that you need to do in order to get out of the rut of going through all of those disparate pieces of data is a process called metrics mapping. Metrics mapping requires you to start with a high level view of your business and ask the questions that you want answers to. Most people want to know things like, “How much money am I making?” “Which products are driving the most revenue?” “Where am I losing money?”. After asking the questions, it’s time to figure out what metrics, or KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) answer that question.

After you know what metrics you want to measure, it’s time to find what system tracks that data, and which one you trust the most. If you want to know how much money your business has, your Paypal, Stripe, or bank account is probably a good place to use as where you pull that metric from. If you want to know how many visitors came to your site yesterday, you would probably turn to Google Analytics. Once you have picked out that “source of truth” for each metric, you can begin to track that information and start answering your business questions.

Almost every company has holes in their data, generally because people don’t recognize the value of that data.

Many organizations have problems with incomplete or inaccurate data. There are several potential solutions to this, but the best ones generally are to either automate out the data collection or to train everyone in the organization in the value of the data. Automation represents a long-term and scalable solution to the problem, but it also generally requires a large up-front investment in the technology. For that reason, many businesses would rather just train everyone in their organization on the importance of the data, and how it can actually make a difference for both the individual and the organization over time.

The sales team is the most important team to communicate this to. As one of the first groups that has contact with the clients, they have access to massive amounts of data that often falls by the wayside because they don’t view it as important. Allowing them access to the data and the insights that come from that data is one of the easiest ways to show them the true value of the data that is being collected. If they can see the direct correlation between their data collection efforts and the insights that allow them to make more money, they will never again willingly let data slip through the cracks.

Reward the habits and not the results.

In sales we have lead indicators and lag indicators. The lead indicators are the things that you have complete control over, i.e. contacting x number of leads per day, making x number of cold calls, making at least x number of sales pitches. Lag indicators are the results that follow the lead indicators, i.e. number of sales, amount of revenue, etc. What’s truly powerful about harnessing the power of data is that once you know your lead indicators well enough, you can shift the focus from rewarding lag indicators to rewarding the lead indicators. A system like this allows you to reward the behaviors that drive results, rather than just the results themselves.