The Biggest Mistakes I’ve Made with MARKETING DATA as a Digital Marketer
This is a transcript of episode 99 of the Let’s Get Data-Driven podcast.
I’m Lanie Lamarre and before we hit episode 100, I wanted to share with you some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made with marketing data as a digital marketer. Because I’ve made plenty and you may have made or be making these, too. Because acknowledging our mistakes is growth – or in our case, OMGrowth – let’s get growing together.
OVER-COMPLICATING MY TRACKING EFFORTS
In an effort to see where my traffic was coming from, I once created this templated page that I would duplicate with personalized content like a header that said “hey, friend of WHOEVER SENT YOU” because I thought this would make it easy for me to see how and why they reached my page. And it did but it was a nightmare and there are far simpler ways of achieving the same outcome.
The problem with this strategy is that not only did I have a boatload of unique pages to track but when I wanted to update the content on them, I had to update the content on all of them. For instance, if I retired offer or added a new offer, I would have to go into each individual page to add that thing, or I’d have to create a new templated page and replace all the pages I created.
What I should have done instead and now do is I have one generic page that all my speaking opportunities gets redirected to using some customized code instead. This way, if I’m on The Jane Doe podcast and I’m asked to share where people can get some of the resources mentioned on the podcast, I would send people to omgrowth.com/janedoe and set it up so that this URL redirects people to that one generic page using UTM codes that will identify where this person came from like omgrowth.com/genericpage?utm_campaign=offer&utm_source=janedoe&utm_medium=podcast. This way, when I look at my analytics and filter for “Medium: Podcast”, I can see all the traffic that came to me from all the different podcasts I spoke on.
If you want to explore this more in-depth, you’ll find tutorials for how to do this in the Membership To Get Data-Driven, because while I value being able to track the ROI on my speaking events, I would never again create unique landing pages for each presenter I collaborated with, especially when I can use UTMs to generate clean reports on this for me.
NEGLECTING TO CLEAN AND AUDIT DATA
I used to sell Dashboards that plugged into your Google Analytics and if you want to hear more about why I no longer support or promote the use of Google Analytics for most small business owners, listen to episode 53 for the background on that. It would happen where people would have issues with how their data populated their dashboards and they would ask my if I could “just connect it for them” and agreeing to do so was always, always, always a mistake.
The reason that you would encounter issues with how your data is reporting isn’t an issue with the Dashboard but rather, it’s with how your data collection and storage is set-up. This means you need to run a full audit on your analytics account and its settings, or hire someone to do so, and this can be time-intensive and therefore, it is its own expense. Furthermore, it’s a recurring expense because for as often as these platforms and privacy legislations are updated, you will have to have an expert adjust your settings accordingly to ensure you continue collecting clean data.
Any time I agreeing to helping someone get their dashboards set up, I would almost immediately regret it because the problem was never with the dashboards and reporting and always with the set-up, and I never charged enough to include a full account audit. As such, it always felt a little bit like the relationship between Sharon Stone and Robert DeNiro in Casino where you start off saying, “I mean, why not have a go at this?” only to end up where all parties are inevitably dissatisfied with the arrangement.
Keep in mind that data analysts don’t spend most of their time analyzing data; they spend most of their time cleaning their data sources. Google Analytics is not out-of-the-box software you can plug-and-play without adjusting the settings and I highly recommend that you hire someone who is knowledgeable about privacy regulation to review and audit how your data collection is set up on an ongoing basis to ensure you’re doing so in a legal way but also in an accurate manner that benefits your reporting goals.
PRIORITIZING CONVENIENCE OVER CAREFULNESS
Since these mistakes aren’t mutually exclusive, it’s worth noting that I did use and recommend Google Analytics for a long time. In fact, I still think it’s a great tracking platform for the right person who can either ensure the settings are privacy-compliant or who is willing to hire someone who will set-up and regularly audit and update their use of the platform. But like I said in the last mistake, Google Analytics isn’t an out-of-the-box platform you can just slap onto your site and you’re good to go. I mean, you CAN do that and it’s convenient to do so, but it isn’t responsible to do this before you understand what you’re consenting and agreeing to.
We all do this – and I’m as guilty as anyone – where you sign up for a platform without fully reading the Terms of what you’re agreeing to. Episode 69 was a bit of a case study of how I joined TikTok, THEN looked into what I had agreed to (which I don’t have to tell you is the wrong order in which to do things), and how and why I made the decision to leave the platform once I knew and understood what the implications would be. It was more convenient for me to start swiping videos than it was to carefully read what I had agreed to, and as a result, I’m a lot more vigilant about looking into what I’m signing up to now.
This doesn’t just apply to the tools you use and social media you sign up for, either. I encourage you to take the extra moment to manage your tracking preferences when you’re on specific sites and inform yourself as to what you’re agreeing to. You’re not a “hit” or a “user” – you’re a human being – and although you deserve to be treated as such, you also have to pay your due diligence and communicate how you’ll accept you and your audience’s personal information to be treated.
FOCUSING ON “USERS” INSTEAD OF PEOPLE
If you’ve listened to me for any period of time, you know that I prefer the term “visitors” to “users” because yes, I get we’re speaking in the context of the people who use our things, but drug dealers refer to their client base as users and there’s a bit of a con-artist connotation that I can’t shake. Is this a personal issue? Maybe, probably, but it doesn’t hurt to think about it. In fact, it doesn’t hurt to think of those people as human beings. It’s a whole lot easier to think of them as people with experiences and needs and desires that you can help them with, rather than users whose pain points you want to exploit and maximize profit from.
When you’re dealing with data and analytics, it can be especially easily to lose sight of what we’re talking about because it’s just numbers in columns; but those numbers represent people and there’s a ton of value – for both you as a digital seller and the person on the other side of the screen – when you remember that fact with how you show up online.
Instead of hits and views, you can take a human-centered approach of “would I click on that? why would I click on that?” Instead of worrying about learning conversion copywriting, maybe you can look at your captions, your sales pages, your emails and just be honest about how helpful and how engaged you would find yourself being with that same content if the script were flipped.
OVER-AUTOMATING PROCESSES AND IGNORING QUALITATIVE DATA
In a similar vein is the over-automation of processes. For instance, if most of your engagement is automated, you may be engaging “wrong”, amirite?
Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of automations in place to help with my engagement. Social media posts are scheduled, for instance. I get alerts telling me to record a personal welcome video when someone joins the Membership To Get Data-Driven. I get similar alerts telling me to send a handwritten cards when someone buys a course. But all of these engagement-based automations exist as a way for me to welcome and open the door for conversation or engagement or just plain old making people feel seen. I’m re-thinking concepts such as the “welcome or nurture funnel” where you send a set of automated emails designed to introduce yourself and your offers because I’m thinking – and I haven’t figure this out yet – but I’m thinking I’m not the one who should be doing all the talking and I’m not sure how to do that. Should I test video welcome messages to new subscribers the way I do for new members? Is that even realistic? Maybe. Maybe not.
I don’t have all the answers but I’m definitely questioning a lot of things – especially the things we put on auto-pilot – because as much as I advocate for not manually doing work you don’t have to, I’m equally passionate about acting like a human being online and maybe we don’t have to automate quite as many things as we do and have.
Likewise, looking at numbers on a screen will never tell you as much as your actual followers and buyers can tell you, from their mouths, the burning questions you have about things like “your client journey” and “what made them buy”. Make your market research easy on yourself and just ask!
FOCUSING ON THE WRONG THINGS
Looking at #allthedata is overwhelming and it’s why I say over and over and over again that #allthedata doesn’t matter #allthetime.
Having said that, it’s easy and a lot of times, we’re encouraged to focus on the wrong things. Social media may be the pillar example of this but what metrics do you have front-and-center? Your followers, your views and your likes, right? For a long time, I equated “likes” with what is doing well for me and I was looking at the wrong dang thing. I care so much more about what people are sharing and saving as examples of what is really resonating with my audience – and if you want help finding those types of insights, there’s a training in the Membership To Get Data-Driven on how to find all of this juicy information and you’ll find the link to join link in the shownotes – but I can do a lot more and take better data-driven decision by looking at what people are saving and sharing than what they’re liking.
Furthermore, all data – regardless of the source – is never perfect and will be increasingly imperfect as privacy laws expand. That’s why instead of focusing on exact numbers, it is far more valuable for you to focus on identifying trends and patterns. If you need an example of what this looks like in action, I’ll link to a couple of examples that will show you how to do that from my Instagram:
Understanding your numbers to make data-driven decisions isn’t like accounting where the numbers have to be exact; the goal is to take the areas you’re investing in and set yourself up to easily identify what the returns are for those efforts and where the gaps, inefficiencies and low-lying fruit are for you to capitalize on next.
So there you have it – some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made with marketing data as a digital marketer and I’d love to hear yours as well, so if you’re feeling like sharing some mistakes you’ve made, reach out to me @omgrowth on Instagram. In the meantime, next episode is my one-hundredth and I look forward to sharing that one with you next week so we will talk soon – baiiieee!!