This is a transcript from episode 17 of the OMGrowth podcast, published on March 10, 2021
Using spreadsheets is often like buying new clothes in a size smaller than you know you are: the intentions for both of these strategies is all-kinds-of hopeful and aspirational… but in the end, you and I both know that your spreadsheets and your too-tiny clothes are going to get just about the same use.
Good intentions won’t help you know your numbers, but a DATA STRATEGY will! In today’s podcast episode, I’m helping you put a data strategy in place that fits you and your business better… well, than than that pair of low-rise jeans you have in the back of your closet.
WHAT IS A DATA STRATEGY?
Because I’m a big fan of starting at the beginning, let’s do that and define what-the-hey a “data strategy” is.
Your DATA STRATEGY consists of the methods by which you’re collecting, storing, managing and using information in your business.
Now if you’re sitting back saying: “I have a Data Strategy: I have Google Analytics installed on my website”… boss, that’s not a data strategy!
Google Analytics is a tool – and a great tool, at that – but it’s just ONE component of your data strategy.
Your data strategy is made up of all the things that are keeping tabs and reporting on your performance.
This means your cart processor is part of your data strategy.
In fact, anything you hit “publish” on – so your ads, your emails, your social media posts – all of it are part of your data strategy… even if you aren’t being intentional about and with it.
Because all of these platforms are coding and tracking everything you’re publishing, except they’re doing it THEIR way…. which doesn’t always work to YOUR advantage.
If you’re anything like me and you’re an only child who doesn’t like being told what to do and feels pretty strongly that your way is best – just me? I know it’s not, you’re bossy like me, too! – but you CAN override their settings and track your efforts in the way YOU tell them to.
UTM parameters are what you can use to help you track your efforts and results your way, and next week, I’m dropping an episode that will go more in-depth with how these gems work so please be sure to subscribe to catch that.
But back to the subject matter at hand, because there’s one thing that your data strategy definitely is NOT and just like when your parents had “the talk” with you and it was awkward, I’m willing to have “the data talk” with you because I love you and I don’t want this to be embarrassing for you to hear from someone else.
Look, your spreadsheets are not a data strategy. They’re not!
Those spreadsheets aren’t collecting anything, boss. It is very unlikely that they’re storing anything. I have my doubts they’re being managed and I would bet my last Rolo you’re not using them for anything…
Which, as we’ve established, are all elements that define your data strategy.
Now let’s pretend you are the rare bird who DID complete more than 3 rows of your spreadsheet. I want to take a moment to honor that person because, I mean, you’re in line for sainthood!
But if you ARE collecting, storing, and managing information within a spreadsheet, put it to use by plugging that information into a dashboard where you can SEE and VISUALIZE the trends and patterns it’s results are having on the rest of your operations.
Your data strategy isn’t any one thing and it can’t exist in a silo if it’s going to be of use; you want to view your performance as a whole.
OFFENSE VS DEFENSE
Now, there are 2 parts to any data strategy: the offense and the defense.
Think of your data strategy in terms of sports where all the plays that you designed are part of your playbook, and how you practice them and put them into action are what make up your game plan.
OK, coach, so what is your expectation when you send the offense out in the field, using the plays that you build? You want to see some points put on the board!
The only thing I love more than an analogue is an example so let’s bring one into this conversation and say you’re prepping for a big product or service launch: what points are you looking to put up on the board?
You’re looking for sales, you’re looking for leads, you’re looking for video views of your webinar, you’re looking for people to click-through on your emails, on your ads, and your social media posts.
By having analytics software in place and by tagging those aforementioned emails and ads and social posts in a way where you can easily pinpoint your impact, you are engaging in an intentional offensive data strategy.
An offensive data strategy means you’re optimizing the data being tracking so you can get better results.
Which means what for your defense?
What’s the one job the defense has when it hits the field?
Your defensive data strategy is always about minimizing your risk of losing the game.
So when you’re doing things like auditing your account to ensure you’re collecting information you can rely on…
When you’re verifying that your ecommerce settings are accurate…
When you’re sitting down with your Dashboards for a CEO Date to review last month’s performance…
When you’re meeting with your team to get everyone on the same page about using UTM parameters and systemizing them into your promotions…
These are all defensive data strategies bosses like you engage in to make sure that they’re minimizing their chances of losing the game, or in this case, the return-on-investment you’re working so dang hard towards.
In all: your offensive data strategy is all about enriching and improving the data you’re collecting so you can impact how the points are being put on the board; while your defensive data strategy are the things you implement, test and review to ensure you’re minimizing your risk of losing.
So let’s cut to the chase, already, right, and talk about what this has to do with you.
1) GET CLEAR ABOUT YOUR STRATEGY
Look at your how your analytics are showing up, check out how your efforts are being coded, and ask yourself if your data strategy is being reported as clear as it could be.
Maybe it’s time to get intentional about your offense – meaning, the things you hit “publish” on – and it’s actually a very simple process to put the UTM parameters in place that will give you omnipotent reporting power… which, yes boss, is how your offense is going to be able to put more points on your board.
2) Be honest with yourself about the spreadsheets.
There are a lot of things that sound great in theory – communism, diva cups, spreadsheets – but they don’t always work in practice as one hopes for, do they? If they work for you, great!
But this action item is a permission slip for you if they don’t. It’s OK to accept that because there are all kinds of other ways to collect and store your information than a method you’ll never manage or use.
And 3) REVIEW.
Set yourself up with a defense strategy review at least once a year.
Sometimes we focus on the wrong solutions – ahem! spreadsheets! – that were doomed to fail at the jump because they’re just too demanding to maintain.
Other times, we don’t give enough focus to the low-lying fruit – like the links we’re already sharing in social and emails – that with a little bit of extra coding would result in huge enhancements to your ROI.
Because this is what it means to know your “why” and that’s YOUR job as the boss to account for: you have to account for the intentionality behind the tasks being assigned, the strategies and campaigns you’re investing in and the goals you’re pursuing like your growth depends on it… and it does!