Blog

  • “How Do I Identify TRENDS & PATTERNS In My Online Performance?”

    This is a transcript of episode 85 of the Let’s Get Data-Driven Podcast

    I’m Lanie Lamarre and this week’s episode is an Office Hours question from the Membership To Get Data-Driven because my members ask the best questions and this one was too good not to share so here we are.

    The question I’m sharing in today’s episode goes like this: “Lanie, you talk a lot about identifying trends and patterns but how exactly do I actually go about doing that?”

    This is a great question because when it comes to taking data-driven action, the trends and patterns will tell you a whole lot more about what to do or lean into next than trying to focus on exact numbers typically will. Being able to hone in on those trends and patterns is one of the most valuable skills you can appropriate.

    Now, the first barrier to seeing trends and patterns in your reports is cleaning up your data so that your results show up in a way that you can make sense of. Yes, the platforms you’re publishing on will show up in your reports but the naming convention they use in their default tracking won’t be as clear and consistent as it is when you’re wearing the bossy pants and you’re making the decision about how you want your reports and results to look. That’s why when you join the Membership To Get Data-Driven, one of the first things covered in the Roadmap To Optimization is about getting intentional with identifying and tracking your marketing efforts so that you have clean and clear reports that make trends and patterns in your performance easy to identify.

    Letting other platforms dictate your naming conventions and reporting is kind of the equivalent of trying to find your favorite black tank top in the pile of black laundry versus when everything is hanging neatly in your closet; yeah, you end up with the tank top either way but one way made it infinitely easier to find than the other.

    Ask any data analyst what they spend most of their time doing, and they will tell you it’s not spent on analysis but rather, 70%+ of their work is about cleaning up data sources. If you tag and track your traffic intentionally, it’s like having a live-in house cleaner for your data where you may have to put your plate in the dishwasher to maintain things but you’re never having to unload the whole dang thing.

    So let’s say you have your data in check and it reflects how and what you’re promoting. The next step to identifying patterns in your performance results isn’t to look at your data but rather, start by looking within yourself to ask “what were my expectations for this campaign?”

    Let’s use examples because you know I love them: let’s say you want to start conducting quarterly reviews and one of the key campaigns that you want to see, understand and improve the trends and patterns around is your evergreen email sequence. This is your series of automated emails – let’s say you have 6 of them in this series – that gets triggered to release when someone signs up to your email list and it promotes your signature offer.

    Each of these emails will perform differently in different ways, and you’ll want to clock in on what is happening at each step of your client journey for each one of those emails. In this case, your client journey is to 1) open the email; 2) click-through from the email to your sales page; and 3) click the BUY NOW button to make a purchase.

    Since the beginning is always a great place to start, let’s start by looking at that first step where we want people to open our email. Now, there are a lot of reasons why “open rates” are not the reliable metric they once were and you will never be making any business decisions solely based on open rates anymore (and if you want to learn more about why that is, give episode 61 on Email Marketing Metrics a listen); but in this instance, we’re not making decisions, we’re trying to identify your patterns, and in this instance, your open rates are useful because you’re looking at this performance in a kind of silo. We don’t care about the exact numbers here, we care about the trends so this works.

    So as we look at the trends of your evergreen email performance as a whole from email #1 to email #6, which email is showing up with the highest opens? Which one is getting the least? By what margin? What is the trend you’re seeing here: for instance, do your open rates drop consistently by 2-5% between each email? How does this compare to what you thought would happen or what your expectations were? Are there any exceptions to the consistency you’re seeing: for instance, are there any weird or obvious spikes or dips that break the otherwise consistent trend you see carried through your open rates? Always take note of those spikes and dips that defy your patterns as an alarm bell telling you, “oh, this defies my usual trend and I want to look into why that is.” After all, there could be something about that email that you could then apply to your other emails that would be the rising tide that lifts all your other open rates, which could then have the waterfall impact on your click-through and purchase rates.

    If the first step of this client journey is for your reader to open the email, the next one is that they click-through to your site from the contents of that email. Again, you’ll want to establish what the click-through pattern is between each of the emails. Which one gets the most click-throughs? Which gets the least? What are the numbers telling you about the consistent expectations you can have for these emails? How does this compare with what your actual expectations were? Are there any spikes or dips in engagement to account for?

    And hey! maybe spikes and dips ARE the trend and pattern you’re seeing. Maybe your click-throughs look like a big ole “W” where email #1, #4 and #6 get significantly higher clicks, and emails #2, #3 and #5 are opened at an opposing, lower rate. That’s a trend. “Consistent” doesn’t necessarily mean a linear trajectory but rather, in this sense, we’re talking about what keeps showing up, because once we know what’s happening, we’re going to want to look at why that is and if there’s any way we can apply what we see is working well into other areas and maybe ditch what isn’t going so well.

    Identifying trends and patterns in your results and performance is a lot like lying on the grass and looking up at the clouds; you’re not concerned with the details or even reality so much as you’re looking for outlines and shapes that symbolize what your performance looks like as a whole. Maybe you look at your purchasing trends and see that when you isolate the spikes in your “W” pattern for the click-throughs, emails #1, #4 and #6 had about the same sales come through for each of them so that your trend for those emails with the high click-through rates actually have a linear trend in sales patterns. You can find trends within trends, you can identify patterns within patterns, and this is why I say creative bosses are THE BEST analysts because it isn’t so much about the actual numbers; you want to get a feel for what is happening with your performance as a whole canvas and then to play with the elements that will build it into the full painting you want to see.

    To start painting with data, it’s simply a matter of:

    • Mapping out what you’re doing – so what are the various promotional pieces you’re working with to market your offer;
    • Setting your expectations for what you intend to see happen;
    • Looking at what actually happened to establish future expectations as to what trends you see and where any outlying spikes or dips can be identified that break up those patterns;
    • Comparing this to what your expectations were; and
    • Assessing why you think certain trends and outliers are what are they are, and finding ways to use that knowledge to your advantage.

    Looking for ways you can use your trends and patterns to your advantage? I have an entire module dedicated to Optimizing Your Results in the Membership To Get Data-Driven that is designed so that you can show up with your problem – something like “hey! people aren’t opening my email!” and you click on that problem to see what potential solutions you can implement to improve your results. If that sounds like something you or your team can use, I’d love for you to join and hear your brilliant questions at our Office Hours, too.

    Talk soon – baiiieee!

    CONTINUE READING

  • What to look for when hiring an AD AGENCY

    You need to have patience –> they typically won’t be profitable in the first quarter, and if they aren’t planning your long term, you’re likely to be a pump and dump client

    You want someone who has a privacy first approach and can explain to you what tracking will be put in place and how this complies and butts against privacy regulations.

    CONTINUE READING

  • HEAT MAPS vs ANALYTICS: How and When To Use Services Like HotJar and CrazyEgg

    This is a transcript of episode 84 of the Let’s Get Data-Driven Podcast

    I’m Lanie Lamarre and we’re almost through the month of January so I thought, “hey! let’s bring a little warmth to the bosses, shall we?” so today’s episode will have us swan-diving into the wonderful world of Heat Maps.

    Heat Maps are an awesome-sauce data visualization tool that reminds me of the Madonna lyric about Hollywood: how can it hurt you when it looks so good?

    Because Heat Maps ARE wonderful assets when it comes to identifying patterns and trends as to how your visitors and audience interact with your content, but it would be a mistake to rely SOLELY on Heat Maps to make any data-driven decisions.

    But let’s back that thing up and go back to the beginning to start by talking about what Heat Maps actually are:

    Heat Maps are a tool that aggregates your website visitors behaviors – meaning, any one single visitors isn’t identified but rather, it clusters specific behaviors as group in a way that blurs personally identifiable information for any one person – and this makes Heat Maps useful for identifying the intensity of interactions, clicks, time spent on page or even eye movement. They can be hella-powerful tools to use if you know what to look for, but like any information, they can just as easily fall into the “that’s interesting but now what” category.

    So let’s discuss that “now what” part through my love for examples: let’s say we’re using a Heat Map on your sales page so that you can better identify the trends and patterns of your sales page visitors.

    Cool beans, but what trends and patterns do you want to hone in on? Because there are different types of heat maps and different ways of using them.

    For instance, you can use a Heat Map to identify which areas of your sales page people are spending the most time on and which areas they’re most likely to click. To see this, you would be looking at a kind of replica of your sales page with different colors across the page that would make it visually evident where people are spending more and less time, and what they’re more and less likely to click on. They can also help you identify errors where people are rage-clicking, meaning when someone is clicking repeatedly on something out of frustration, which can be helpful in identifying problem areas of your page.

    But let’s say you had a different set of trends and patterns in mind, and you wanted to hone in on the days of the week and the times of day that people are most likely to actually visit your sales page. You could generate a Heat Map that looks like a spreadsheet where the bottom, horizontal row – called the x-axis – would identify the time of day and the vertical row to the left side – called the y-axis – would identify the day of the week. The intensity of the colors on your grid would allow you to easily visualize the days of the week and the times of day that people are most likely to visit your sales page.

    Yet another way of using Heat Maps is through the use of an actual geographic map that, again, will use color intensity to reflect which countries or geographic areas are the most engaged with your sales page.

    Heat Maps are versatile tools that can make it easier for you to identify trends and patterns of your performance.

    You may have noticed that I refer to Heat Maps as a “tool” because that’s exactly what they are. Heat Maps don’t replace your analytics but rather, they’re a tool that complement your website analytics the same way using a pie chart or a bar graph or a spreadsheet can make it easier for you to visualize a specific behavior you want to better see and understand.

    With Heat Maps, you’re taking the value of your analytics and instead of looking at actual numbers, you’re seeing the intensity that those numbers present.  The beauty of this tool is that when a boss struggles with identifying where to get started with asking data-driven questions, a Heat Map will quite literally highlight an area like a big ole arrow that says “hey! did you know there’s a lot going on over here? let’s ask questions about this!”.

    Your analytics will have some Heat-Mapping integrated into it. For example, geographic Heat Maps are standard in your analytics to show you where your website visitors are coming from and there are limitless dashboards you can create and customize when it comes to replacing your specific numbers with intensity graphs you can quickly visualize and absorb.

    However, there are also services you can sign up for like HotJar or CrazyEgg, whose entire service is data visualization through Heat Maps. The question then becomes: SHOULD you install and use these supplementary tools?

    After all, they can do a lot of cool stuff beyond just Heat-Mapping. Both HotJar and CrazyEgg will allow you to do website error tracking, A/B testing and on-site surveys… which, I mean, is there ANY more valuable information than collecting qualitative data that literally TELLS you what is on people’s minds when they’re on your website?

    But “it does cool stuff” should never the final answer to the question “should I install this tracking tool on my website?”

    As responsible digital marketers, it is your responsibility to do your due diligence of looking into the implications of using these tools BEFORE even so much as signing up for a trial account.

    So what does this means you’re on the look-out for? As a baseline, look at the software’s GDPR- and CCPA-compliance. Since those are the two heavy hitters in terms of your privacy and data collection obligations as an online business, you can feel confident that if you’re covering those bases, you’re doing well but I encourage you to consult a legal professional with any doubts you may have.

    But, it’s not enough to just see if their home page mentions compliance and call it a day; I always encourage you to click-through and read their terms or go to the knowledge base and search for GDPR to find out exactly HOW they’re compliant. Why?

    About halfway down HotJar’s home page, it says “GDPR Commitment” and “CCPA Commitment” with a link that says LEARN MORE; click the dang links if you’re considering the platform and educate yourself as to what exactly their commitment is because “commitment” and “compliance” may mean 2 different things. Oftentimes, these services default to privacy-compliance but it is when you customize and opt-in to specific services that the area between “commitment” and “compliance” gets hazy, which is important for you to know and identify before you start messing with those settings.

    Meanwhile, CrazyEgg states that it “complies with the various pieces of privacy legislation across the globe, including GDPR, HIPPA, CCPA, PIPEDA” but “various pieces” doesn’t exactly sound like it’s the whole enchilada, does it? Read a little further and you find out that if you choose to enable Advanced Tracking, you may be agreeing to the collection of sensitive data. Do the features you’re most interested in require the use of this Advanced Tracking? You’re the boss, apple sauce, and it’s your responsibility to follow up with these kinds of things with your Bossy Pants on.

    “So Lanie, what you’re saying these tools are sketchy to use, right?” Not at all, my bossy little friend. Your use of Heat Map software – like anything else! – is usually only as sketchy as you make it out to be.

    Keep in mind that Heat Map software is the same as any tracking software you install on your site: while you have the right to install tracking software on your website, you also have an obligation to be transparent about your surveillance practices and to ensure that what you are tracking is compliant to where your visitors are coming from.

    And yes, even though the data collected through Heat Maps tend to be aggregated and de-personalized – meaning that there doesn’t tend to be personally identifiable information about any one person being collected – it’s still data and it’s still information, and you still have to wear the Bossy Pants.

    We’re going to talk more about trends and patterns next week with a past question I received for Office Hours but hey! if you have a question you wish you could pick my brain about, I encourage you to do by joining the Membership To Get Data-Driven because once a month, you get to do exactly that on top of having access to the Roadmap To Get Data-Driven and the brand-spanking new exclusive workshops I’m dropping in there every single month.

    Talk soon, and don’t forget – you rock socks!

    CONTINUE READING

  • “What’s the deal with all these COOKIE BANNERS?”

    This is a transcript of episode 83 of the Let’s Get Data-Driven Podcast

    I’m Lanie Lamarre and I love restaurant cookbooks. Do I make the things in the cookbooks? Not really. There will usually be 2 or 3 things that I actually make from the book but the photography for restaurant cookbooks stands apart for me. A recent favorite is the cookbook for The Turkey And The Wolf in New Orleans, one I use the most is from Mandy’s Gourmet Salads in Montreal and their house dressing is in my weekly rotation, and my all-time favorite is for The Balthazar in New York City. If you have a recommendation for me or if you wanna nerd out over restaurant cookbooks, please hit up my DMs @omgrowth on Instagram because I’m here for it.

    I’m also here for sassy questions, which today’s episode is full of so without further ado…

    There’s a specific kind of question I get for Office Hours within the Membership To Get Data-Driven that never fails to make me smile and those are the ones that hold a mirror up to what I’m doing. For instance, I had one member ask me “why don’t you use UTM parameters in your emails?” and I chuckled because it means this person went through my links to look at what I was doing and wondered “wassup here? does she not practice what she preaches?” and I love both the curiosity and the sass of it all.

    For the record, when I email my overall list, I most certainly DO use UTM Parameters on the links I’m sharing. These enable me to track and see my performance as it relates to the things I’m promoting. When I email my members within the Membership To Get Data-Driven, I’m not promoting my offers but rather, I’m delivering on the offer they purchased. Any links I share with that segment of my audience is provided as a convenience to things like Office Hours submission forms or maybe I’ll remind them of the workshop they have access to and provide them with a handy link. I don’t track the click-through on the links I share with members because I’m not promoting anything with those links. It’s kind of like how it’s redundant to sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” when you’re already at the ballgame; you’re already there, kiddo, so you don’t need to ask.

    The whole point of tracking your click-throughs is to better understand how your promotions are performing, and if you aren’t promoting anything, there’s nothing to track. This why my method of tracking your campaign always starts with the question “what am I promoting with this campaign” because that’s where it all starts, and think it’s a good idea to always start from the beginning.

    But we’re already off-track and I digress because that’s not the sassy question we’re tackling today. The sassy question in question today was: “If the use of Fathom and Plausible Analytics to track your website don’t require cookie agreements, why do you still have a cookie disclaimer on your site? I assumed it meant you could remove that?” (I told you it was a sassy question, right?)

    So yes, I use Fathom and Plausible Analytics on my website. These are privacy-compliant analytics software that I recommend over Google Analytics for most small online business owners and if you want to hear the reasons why, I have episode 53 and 54 covering all of that in-depth so I won’t rehash that here.

    But this is a great question because while Fathom and Plausible may be privacy-compliant, you can’t just install this software on your site and take your victory lap. After all, analytics software is unlikely to be the only thing you have installed, embedded or linked on your website that is being tracked through the use of cookies.

    For instance, if you have YouTube videos embedded on your website, chances are you’ve embedded Google tracking cookies onto your site when you embedded that video. There are ways around this, which I’ll get into, but whether or not you knew that embedding that video in your page would install cookies on your site, you are in a position where you HAVE these cookies on your site and you ARE expected to disclose this fact.

    “But Lanie, how am I supposed to disclose what I don’t even know?!”

    The thing is boss, that you are… well, you’re the boss, apple sauce, and that makes it your responsibility as a business owner to know these types of things. But you don’t know what you don’t know so you can either hire someone to take on this responsibility on your behalf or you can do what I’ve done and use a compliance solution that will inform you of such things. I personally use a service called Termly that will scan your site for cookies you may not have been aware of and it even provides the cookie banner that informs visitors of which cookies are tracking what, which is what that member was talking about when they asked about when they asked why I have a cookie banner if I’m using privacy-compliant software.

    I’ll admit that even *I* was a little head-smacking emoji when I first scanned my site because I had a lot of referral links – which, OF COURSE referral links are tracked, genius! *insert head smack* – but for some reason I hadn’t put that together. The results of my first scan was also the result of some very colorful language because I was like, “I have HOW MANY cookies tracking my site?!”

    What I ended up doing was that I moved my Recommended Resources to a separate sales page that lives off on its own, outside of my website. This way, people who visit my site won’t be tracked with all this additional stuff when they read my blog or whatever, and it’s only the people who actively choose to click on the resources I refer that will be tracked, should they opt-in to allow cookies to track them.

    All this to say, using privacy-compliant software doesn’t negate or neutralize everything else you have linked, installed or embedded. It’s up to you to confirm any tracking you have in place on your website, whether you were intentional or realized you had installed cookies or not.

    But I digress once again because the title of this episode is “what’s the deal with all these cookie banners?” because that’s the core concern here. Even as recently as a year ago, the prompts for website visitors to manage their tracking preferences were far and few in between; today, they’re omnipresent and I’ll say it for you, they’re hella-annoying, amirite?

    I’ll go ahead and get my crystal ball and tell you what I think we have in store for our future with these and I honestly don’t think cookie banners will last, although I think they’re necessary at this point in time. Why do I think they’re necessary right now? For the same reason why you may have just learned that embedding YouTube videos installs tracking cookies on your website: we as online citizens have a lot to learn and grow aware of, and online businesses have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to transparency.

    Think back to when cigarette companies pushed doctors to encourage their patients to smoke and this was normalized, endorsed behavior because in the 50s, we didn’t know cigarettes were bad for you. I truly believe this is the same situation where our lack of awareness has driven us to take certain actions we weren’t fully aware of the consequences for, and we will have laws and education and boundaries imposed where we won’t need to manage our tracking preferences on every site the same way you don’t have to sign a waiver agreement every time you walk by a smoking section or buy a pack of cigarettes; we’re all much clearer on and in-the-know of the consequences engaging in these activities by now. Just as advertising companies have boundaries around how they can promote cigarettes in print – for instance, they can’t say exploitative, misleading information on their ads anymore like “when smokers changed to Philip Morris, every case of irritation cleared completely and definitely improved” – my belief is that advertising companies will have to default to less exploitative and more transparent practices with the way they’re operating online as well, and that the way we’re doing things now is going to seem equally archaic in 10 years time. I see this as the same media story, in different formats and different times.

    But for now, as we figure out what we can agree to, I see us as being the equivalent of the pregnant lady smoking darts in the car with the windows up and our other kids in the backseat wondering why the whole family has asthma. That’s where we’re at right now. But there are lawmakers who are playing catch-up to the digital age and putting laws in place that say “you have to tell people! they have to know what you’re doing to them and they have the right to consent.” The reason you’re seeing all these cookie banners now is because these laws aren’t just pieces of paper anymore but we’re also beginning to see them enforced and as such, online business owners are having to disclose the information they’re collecting about their website visitors and visitors have the option to say “yeah, I’ll pass on that.”

    It’s interesting times and it’s going to keep being interesting. If you don’t like change, I don’t know what to tell you other than you either need to find a way to embrace it or you need to get offline, because I can PROMISE you this time next year, there will be something else that is literally everywhere and on every web thing that we don’t even know about today.

    But you know I’m always looking out for those things and I love using this podcast to share them with you so hey! if you’re not subscribed, let’s go steady please, and tell your biz besties about this podcast, leave a review – all of this helps me help bosses like you better understand what-the-hey is going on in this ever-changing landscape.

    Talk soon – baieeee!

    CONTINUE READING