Data into Insights: A starting point

We all know that we should be data driven, heck, it is a buzzword these days! 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 you all you have is a hammer then everything you see is a nail.” So you need to focus.

Establish Goals and Tracking

For starters you need to have, at a minimum, your established goals up front. You can’t manage what you can’t measure, so what is it that you want to achieve?

Think about your goals from a macro and micro level. Why do this? Well if you had a site converting at 4%, then for every 100 people, 4 parted with their cash, but what did the other 96 people do? Knowing what these micro moments are helps you understand their behaviour which you need to track, this gives you insights into what triggers and activates your visitors.

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 eg campaigns tagged correctly, analytics setup on your marketing machines for things like your email, ppc campaigns, paid social right through to your  apps and/ or websites.

When you have done all of this, you are still quite likely to have lots of metrics looking back at you.

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.

saas business model lean analytcis

Use your 1 page business map, to create your metric dashboard, and highlight what metrics are:

sass kpi dashboard example

  • 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.

Post It Note Reporting

You should have your big business data available to all to dig into, ideally on some form of shared drive so you are all on the same page, 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?

saas KPI dashboard

Your goal is to look at this what I like to call post it note reporting as a way 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 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 know more tips on this topic I am doing a FREE talk for General Assembly at Google Campus on Monday 27 November at 630pm-745pm. Sign up here with General Assembly