This is a transcript for episode 87 of the Let’s Get Data-Driven podcast.
I’m Lanie Lamarre and my favorite holiday is Mardi Gras, which is coming up next Tuesday. This means we are in full carnival season mode and this year, I’ve eaten all the king cake and have zero regrets.
This week, we’re talking about putting in place something YOU will have zero regrets about and that’s positioning your data in a way that you can SEE – literally, with graphs and charts – SEE your performance.
Data visualization – or what some cool kids call data viz – is fancy term that refers to being able to see your numbers in graphs and charts that make it easy for you to see – or visualize, as the wording suggests – what your numbers are trying to tell you about your performance trends and patterns. The goal is to set all of these graphs and charts up in a way that will tell a story and this will be done on what is called a Dashboard.
Much like the dashboard of your car, you should be able to quickly glance at your performance dashboard and get some SNAP! insights about what’s going on. If there’s something that needs your attention, your dashboard should be set up in a way that you can easily identify that and then you can dig into that aspect of your data with more depth, as required.
So how do dashboards and data visualization differ from your analytics reports, and why would you want both?
There are a number of reasons but let’s start with the most obvious one:
- Your analytics software tracks, collects and stores the data; your visualization software doesn’t track, collect or store anything other than the layouts you select for story-telling. Your visualization software taps into any database or data source you tell it to and reports on the numbers that are stored on those platforms. Your website analytics are one data source but you have others, like your email marketing service that is a data source that tracks, collects and stores your subscriber data or your social media platforms that are also data sources that tracks, collects and stores information about how your followers interact with you on those media. All of these are data sources that you can and probably want to plug into your data visualization software to tell a more complete picture of your performance; which brings us to my next point,
- The idea that one single centralized data source will be your end-all and be-all no longer applies, if it ever did. Once upon a time, our website analytics could report with a significantly accurate degree what people are doing on our website, but that was before changes to privacy and data collection and awareness among web surfers who don’t want to be tracked and have taken measures to avoid this. As these have increased, the degree to which you can rely exclusively on this type of tracking to make business decisions has decreased. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have access to accurate data that will help you see some of the most important and actionable results you want feedback on. For instance, your email list growth rate, your sales performance trends, your ad campaigns – you have access to all kinds of accurate data, if you know which data source to focus on;
- Another difference between data visualization software and analytics software is that while analytics software WILL provide you with some graphs and charts, but they’re standard… while you and how you operate is anything-but. The cookie cutter approach will only get you so far and the way your processes and systems are set up will impact the ideal way for you to report on your results. The graphs and charts in your analytics software IS a helpful starting point but that’s exactly what they are: a starting point from which you can then build a reporting and storytelling strategy from.
So let’s talk more about that storytelling experience because if there’s one key take-away that I want for you from everything I’ve ever said, it’s this: #allthedata doesn’t matter all the time.
Even if you’re using a privacy-compliant website analytics software like Plausible Analytics or Fathom Analytics, you’re probably collecting way more information than you’ll ever need or use. Honing in on what matters to you RIGHT NOW is important for it to be the best use of your time and energy, and it’s crucial for you as you wear the bossy pants.
So what data matters? You want to limit your line of sight to look at 1) your Overall Business Health metrics and 2) the Key Performance Indicators that comment on where your current standing is versus the performance expectations you have for special projects you have going on, such as launch metrics or ad campaigns.
If you need help with identifyfing what these would be for you or how to set up your dashboards for these using Airtable or Looker, there’s a link in the shownotes where you can join for just $19 and I will walk you through the whole enchilada.
Because once you have YOUR most important data points selected, you’re going to select the graphs and charts that will best accommodate your story-telling needs. It is through visualization that the proverbial magic happens and if you want to see how that magic happens, head over to my Instagram because I have some Instagram Reels over there that will prove that you ARE a numbers person when you have data visualization on your side. It makes seeing what story your numbers are telling so much easier and different graphs can help comment on different angles of the same story, if you know which one to pick.
For instance, sometimes you just want to compare one same data set, like sales made over one time period, such as those I’m using in the aforementioned Instagram Reels. There are also graphs that will help you see how your data sets are correlated, like how your different traffic sources impact those same sales over time. Other times, you’d benefit from a graph that would comment on your different products sales roll in over time. Again, which graphs and charts you use will depend on what story YOUR business and YOUR operations would best benefit from telling, and taking control of how the information that is most important for you to report on is a hella-boss move for you to make.
I’m going to say it again because it’s important enough that it warrants being repeated again and again: #allthedata doesn’t matter all time.
While data is not retroactive and you want to be proactive about tracking your promotional efforts such as any links you’re posting outside of your site that drives traffic to your website. That doesn’t mean you should expect to always look at or even care about that data on a regular basis. It’s great to have that information on hand for when you’re doing something like setting new KPIs for your next launch, limiting what you look at to what actually matters and moves your needle forward.
You 100% have my permission and blessing.
Talk soon, baiieeee!