5 Steps to Drive Performance Through Data

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Today, there is certainly no shortage of data. From analytics to social tracking, marketers have access to more information than even before. However, there is a big difference between marketing key performance indicators and actionable information.

But how do you effectively convert your big data into a performance-driving machine? One of the biggest keys is to only track what you can change. But there is a lot more involved, so we’ve created these actionable steps…

1. Establish goals, Critical Success Factors & KPIs

Where do you begin corralling your data? With your goals, Critical Success Factors (CSFs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). If you don’t know what your goals and benchmarks are, then you won’t know how to measure & improve. Begin by establishing SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based. We recommend starting with two to three.

Then, determine the Critical Success Factors for each goal. Critical success factors are qualitative measurements that state what should be done in order to be successful. They specify the requirements for success. Each goal will likely have 2-3 CSFs.

Finally, establish your KPIs for each CSFs. These are quantitative measurements that rely on benchmarks to determine if you are successful. This is where your data will live.

Here’s a quick example of goals, CSFs & KPIs:

Goal: Increase sales revenue 10% by next January

CSF: Increase the number of new customer each month

KPIS for CSF 1: New leads, Average new order value, new customers, conversion rate

CSF 2: Increase client retention

KPIS for CSF 2: Retention rates, Average order value of existing customers

Remember – keep these limited. Less is most certainly more. Only select goals and KPIs your company has control over.

2. Develop systems to get the data

Now that you’ve determined the data you need (ie KPIs), it’s important to develop systems to get the information. This can often be one of the hardest parts because the it may live in many different places. For example, new leads may be in your CRM system, but AoV of existing customers may be in your accounting software.

To accomplish this, you will need to:

    • Define data needed based on KPIs
    • Determine where data lives or how you may get this information (easy? Difficulut?)
    • Develop process for pulling data (Who, when, how)?
    • Set benchmarks and goals

3. Create (and update) dashboards

Once you have your goals and a handle on where all of your data lives, you’ll need to bring them together in a central dashboard. The dashboard should serve as the hub for your information and should easily provide insights and performance updates at a glance.

There are many different options for a dashboard – it can be a simple excel spreadsheet or a complicated (and expensive) customized software – or everything in between. No matter what dashboard format you choose, make sure it’s accessible for key members.

Here’s a quick checklist of what your dashboard should do:

  1.             Get all data in one place
  2.             Ability to make comparisons (year over year, month over month, etc.)
  3.             Add annotations, observations and recommendations
  4.             Benchmarks and goals
  5.             Set thresholds and alerts (ideal, but not required)

4. Improve, improve, improve

After dashboards are in place, you are now ready to make your data actionable. Use your KPI benchmarks and goals to determine what you can test to improve. We recommend using a Scientific Method approach, testing ideas to reach your goals and using the data to determine success.

During any “experiment,” it’s important to document dates and any other items that may impact results. Use your dashboard for recording and comparing the final information.

Here’s a quick example:

Hypothesis: Site conversions are low due to high bounce rate. I hypothesize high bounce rate is due to too large of banner
Experiment: I will A/B test a new, smaller banner
Analyze: After 2 weeks, it appears bounce rate decreased by 10% on the smaller banner
Conclusion & Actions: Keep smaller banner and now test banner CTA

Each test should end with actionable information and possibly the start of a new test.

5. Analyze & review

Once you have a flow of steady information and tests for improvements, make sure to take the time to analyze and review. Determine a time to review dashboards, tests and overall trends with key team members – typically once a month or once a quarter.

Create an appointment and stick to it (even if it’s just with yourself). These “meetings” should occur after data has been entered and key  members have had a chance to review and make observations.

About once a year, we recommend taking a giant step back and reviewing your processes. You goals and dashboards will change as your business changes. It’s ok to evolve and make these updates. You may find you need more or less or just different information. And that’s great. After all, as the data shows, continual improvement is always a work in progress.

About Webolutions

If you’re looking help setting up dashboards and driving performance through data, call us at 303-300-2640. For more than 22 years, Webolutions has been working with organizations across the country to implement strategic marketing initiatives that get results through effective reporting.


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