How to Turn Data into Insights

How do you turn data into insights?

We all know that we should be data driven, heck, it is a buzzword these days!

Yet so many of us are ‘data rich, insight poor’.

But when you are looking into the abyss of what can look like data vomit, how do you turn these data points into insights for your company’s growth?

This post is a starting point before you dive into the deep dark woods of analytics. You know the phrase “If all you have is a hammer then everything you see is a nail.” Abraham Maslow. So you need to focus.

In this data insight post we’ll cover how to set your goals.

Establish Goals and Tracking

For starters you need to have, at a minimum, your objectives and goals set up. You can’t manage what you can’t measure, so what is it that you want to achieve? What are your companies long and short term goals? Think about your goals from a macro and micro level.

Why? Because setting clear goals and objectives help your company to reach its goals. Say for example you had a site converting at 4%. Say for every 100 people, 4 parted with their cash, what did the other 96 people do? Knowing what these micro moments are helps you to understand your audiences behaviour. By tracking their behaviour, it gives you insights into what triggers and activates your visitors. Example Goals Could Be:

  • Visit duration goals
  • Pages/visits goals
  • Event goals
  • Engagement
  • URL destination goals
  • Track leads
  • Track file downloads
  • Highest driving social media channel
  • Open and click through rates for email
  • ROI on PPC campaigns

You need to make sure that your business and marketing programmes are designed to be measurable. Make every effort to track everything that is critical. For example campaigns that are tagged correctly, make sure that your analytics are setup on your marketing machines for things like your email, ppc campaigns, paid social right through to your  apps and/ or websites. Bottom line: every business with a digital presence should have analytics set-up for maximum data insights. Once you have all of these set up, you will have lots of juicy metrics looking back at you! We’ve created a bloody awesome goals template to help you get startedYou’re welcome. You Need Solid Facts, not Fluff! A useful exercise from the  Lean Analytics book by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz is to map out your business on 1 page aka a ‘1 pager’

Know the difference between your numbers

  • Lagging metrics are historical, things that have already happened, such as sales last month.
  • Leading metrics are forward looking, the metrics that help predict tomorrow, such as number of marketing qualified leads, or free trials of your product in your pipeline.
  • Correlated are two variables that are related but may be dependent on something else, for example, the number of people drowning and ice cream sales.  You wouldn’t look at a correlated graph and conclude that we should ban ice cream sales to save lives.

Causal is an independent variable that directly impacts a dependent one, for example, summertime. It is summer that is the causal effect in our case example here for sales of ice creams and number of drownings.

Now, if you find a leading, causal metric, you have found something that can drive growth and know what causes it, now you can grow your company at will. None of this is possible though if you do not have a solid set of objectives, a fully tracked analytics suite, and looking at the data points that matter. Se those objectives marketers!

Post it Not Reporting You should have your big business data available for the entire team to dig into, ideally on some form of shared drive like Google Drive.

But to avoid the data vomit we talked about at the start of this article, can you put the company’s top level metrics on a post it note?

Post it note reporting

Task for you: Write down your companies top-level metrics on what we like to call, ‘post it note reporting’ Why? To keep you focused on the metrics that really matter for your business. You should look at this high level pulse point of data and use it to make changes to your business and remember If a metric does not change the way you behave it is a bad metric. Not all reports are created equal Not all metrics are equal to the same person, so my final tip is to make a list of who are you reporting to? What do they care about? Yes you will have a high level business report for the state of the business, but what do the rest want on their post it note? What metrics matter to them? For example: Your VP of marketing may want.

  • Unique Visitors
  • Number of Free Trials
  • Return on Investment
  • Churn Rate of Paying customers

Your CFO may want

  • Cost per Visitor
  • Cost per Acquisition
  • ROI
  • Monthly Recurring Revenue

If you want to report like a boss you can download our Reporting Template Here. 

If you want to dive into the nitty-gritty process of building fantastic dashboards, we have a module in our online Google Analytics course. Head over here to get the full details, but short version, learn our process (with a handy word doc template) and see how to use Data Studio to make it look all shiny and glossy.


How Can You Measure Content Marketing ROI

How do you measure content marketing and validate that your work is bringing in the big bucks?

We all want more bang for our content buck, but unfortunately we’re not mind readers (sigh). Making your life as a marketer that little bit harder. You need to be able to tell what content is driving ROI. So how do you measure content marketing?

To improve your content and the channels you’re using to publish your content on, focus on these three key things:

  1. Event Tracking
  2. Segmentation
  3. Testing

1: Event Tracking

If you are not tracking your content assets and your business objectives via website goals then you can’t measure its performance and define its ROI.

Are you using event tracking on your website or app? No? Then you’re missing a massive trick! We have a handy guide on Events for you, using a chicken analogy.

What is Event Tracking?

Event tracking, according to Conversioner is:

“A method that is available in Google Analytics. It lets you record user interactions with various web elements like a menu system driven by Flash. You can do this by attaching a piece of code to an element in the website. When you do so, all activity on that element will be displayed and calculated as Events in the interface for the Analytics report”

As event tracking can track all your users interactions, from a content perspective that would be things like:

  • video plays
  • flicking through gallery images
  • downloading ungated content
  • sharing on social media
  • or scroll reach (i.e reading your long form content)

How to set up event tracking?

For a more detailed description, check out the Event Tracking page on the Google Analytics developers page here: Event Tracking

When you have set up the tracking you will find all this lovely information in Behaviour/Events>Overview

event tracking

One of the best things about having Event Tracking set up is that some of them will be goals  for you, BUT, you can not create an Event Goal until you have the Event data inside your GA account. So you really, really need to have this set up. Those PDF downloads, video plays, and scrolling down the pages will not track themselves.

As we are on the topic of goals, split them into Macro Conversions eg the big hitting goals such as making a purchase or a lead from downloading content via a web form, and Micro Conversions eg the smaller interactions that lead up to the big goals such as reading your blog, watching a video, interacting with your live chat etc. we have written about this topic What Marketing Metrics Matter.

2: Advanced Segments in Google Analytics

If you have created events and goals you can find out how well your content marketing is impacting your bottom line. To really see the impact of your content, get familiar and start building Advanced Segments in Google Analytics.

  • Does downloading un-gated content (eg PDF downloads) trigger goal completions?
  • Do customers spend more money with you if they watch a video?
  • If visitors read the blog, are they more engaged and more likely to return to your site?
  • Do more women or men flick through my images? Etc etc

content segments

How do you make data insightful? Context!

How do you get context? By comparing your data sets over at least 2 of these time comparisons

date range context

So instead of saying 10 people downloaded content this month you could say 10 people downloaded content this month, compared to 8 people last month and 4 people from the same period last year. Those that downloaded the content completed x goals with a value of y.

3: Testing (testing and more testing!)

With solid data to measure progress, you should have an always test mindset.

You can test anything!

Words – little things can make a big difference. Do people convert more when you used the words “kids” or “children”.

Images – what style and placement of images work best for your customers and prospects?

There really are a million things you could test, but how do you work where you should test and in what order? Use Chris Goward’s PIE framework!

Potential: How much improvement can be made on the pages?

Importance: How valuable is the traffic to these pages and do they cost you a lot of money to get there?

Ease: How complicated will the test be to implement form both a technical and political viewpoint?

When you have your order, form a clear hypothesis to test. Your hypothesis should be measurable, have a goal of solving a conversion issues, and you are looking to gain some insights on how to improve moving forward.

Does changing the call to action from “Watch the video” to “See the solution” get more people to view your content? Does adding images to your blog engage users? Never stop testing folks!

Now it’s your turn!

What techniques are you going to use from this post first?

Will you set up event tracking to track your users interactions with your website?

Or are you ready to dive right into advanced segments?

Whatever technique you choose, there are a few free tools we’ve created to help you along the way here.