The business that masters where it has been, is the master of where it will be. A solid business intelligence architecture is the keystone of market success. Today’s world teems with opportunities for any company that wishes to enhance their customers’ experience and expand their marketing footprint towards an even larger audience. While technology dramatically alters the landscape for business owners, it also compliments the core tenet of the most successful enterprises. Know your customer.
Data Collection: Then and Now
It wasn’t so long ago that the extent of data that businesses would collect on their customers was limited to what and when they purchased a product or service. Brick and mortars collected personal data in the form of actually meeting their customers day in and day out. Back then, knowing the needs and behaviors of a customer meant literally observing them. While these were friendly times, the ability to share and analyze most of this information was scant.
Today, our online business marketplace allows for an overwhelming amount of information to be processed by marketers and specialists all in the name of knowing your customer. Like spokes in a wheel, every company has data coming in from different sources. From sales to pageviews, email marketing campaigns to Adword and social media campaigns, you’d have to keep your head on a swivel to organize it in real-time. Fortunately, we can keep our eye on the prize and let the tech swivel for us.
Consistent reporting makes any company more productive. Google Analytics alone is used by more than 4 million businesses today with the majority being companies that employ 10-50 people. Competing, from a data perspective, is all about the right tools. So how do we get all this information into one centralized location?
The Hub and the Spoke: Making the Wheel Go ‘Round
There is a way to set yourself up for success when it comes to productive data analysis. While many of the tools are free, setting them up in the most efficient manner takes time and planning. With all the free products offered by Google, an easy set up begins with a Google account. Here are some of their essential tools that you should have in your business intelligence arsenal.
Google Account (spoke)
Google Analytics (spoke)
Google Search Console (spoke)
Google Data Studio (hub)
The best report is one in which all the data comes together in a central expression that tells a compelling story. The report is the hub that ties all your data to your core business. The best reports are concise, accurate, and easy to understand at a glance. With tools such as Google Data Studio, we can now bring all that data together in one place to make precise, custom-tailored reports. Let’s look at some examples!
The 3 Second Rule
When you look at a report you should be able to stare at one element and understand what it means in 3 seconds. This is why graphics like charts, pie graphs, heat maps etc. are so useful. Data should be presented without the need to explain it. Not only does this practice make for a more beautiful document, it also allows each member of your team to get on the same page quickly.
Here are some key fluid metrics to consider.
Users – How many people are visiting your website every week?
Sessions – How many of those users returned?
Session Duration – How long are people engaging with your site?
Bounce Rate – How many people leave after visiting only one page of your site?
AdWord Clicks – How many people have clicked on your google ad?
Email Campaigns – Which campaigns received the most click-throughs?
Geography – Where in the country and the world are your visitors from?
Channels – Are your visitors coming from Facebook? Or from organic search?
Devices – Are your visitors finding you on their phones, desktops, or tablets?
Revenue – How much money did your customers spend and what did they buy?
This is far from a comprehensive list as it is possible to connect spreadsheets of just about any data to your report. This means that any software you currently use that export data as a csv file can be shared with your centralized report and sent to your inbox on schedule. Let’s talk about that for a moment.
Gone are the days of compiling all your spreadsheets to manually create a status report for your business. The ability to compile information from all these sources is a remarkable convenience in and of itself. The fact that you can have these reports self-update in real-time means that when they are scheduled to go out to everyone on your team, the new data will reflect the current status without you ever having to tell it to.
While your Google Analytics continues to track user events on your website the report remains current. After you save new data into a running spreadsheet, the report remains current. When an email in your campaign is opened, the report remains current. Boom. Your weekly and monthly reports have been automated. Obviously, this saves an enormous amount of time and effort. Now you can focus on the story the data is telling you so that you are prepared for your next update meeting.
Data about our business, clients, and customers come from every angle. Some of the information is important and some of it may seem irrelevant. (although, if you think about it long enough, then it all becomes consequential) It’s one thing to know if clients are visiting your services page on your website and quite another thing to know how long they stuck around once they got there. Keeping your customer engaged is proof that you are addressing their needs.
Once you have all of this information, the story begins to tell itself. Where do your company’s goals resonate with your customers’ needs? Where can you be more articulate in your commercial offerings and where are you being too verbose? The answers to these questions always hide in the data. With solid, visual reporting, however, they will emerge from the informational morass and point your team in the right direction.
Customer data really does steer the ship. It allows you to promote and capitalize on the most popular products and services and gives you the information you need to know which ones to ditch or incentivize further. From a website perspective, it allows you to better hone your messaging on pages that are underperforming. It helps you meet the needs of your clients in the most engaging manner. Analytics provides a running scorecard that tells you exactly where you are and where the trend is heading. This is how you avoid the iceberg and sail into more favorable seas.
Once you have your first comprehensive report, you can use this information to set goals for every aspect of your business that you are tracking. Some of the tools mentioned earlier can help with this task. In Google Analytics, for example, your web team can create, set, and track goals concerning how your customer is interacting with your site. For example, you could tell Analytics to record the number of times somebody on your website clicks from one page to another, how often they leave their shopping cart with unpaid items still in it, or whether or not they read your services page. If you are running a promotion, you can track how successful you were at getting customers to click on the banner to check it out.
You can probably see by now that the flexibility of this information system will require some prudence on your part. You want to hone in on what data matters most without leaving any stone unturned. Spending time in the set-up phase asking the right questions will result in better and simpler reporting down the road. After a few reports, and a few tweaks, you’ll have a consistent and reliable weekly report that sheds light on the most important aspects of your business.
One Report, Endless Opportunities for Growth
In conclusion, the ability to compile a fresh, easy to understand report on a regular basis will help you steer your business toward a path of consistent growth and impeccable customer engagement. With the right tools and the right team beside you, your compass will always guide you towards a path of success.