What Google Analytics Doesn’t Tell You


Google Analytics is an incredible tool for all of the different bits of wisdom it provides to marketers. But the one thing it cannot tell you is critical, lest you view your web analytics as the end all be all of the data you need to make decisions.

What Is Google Analytics Good For?

Google Analytics, indeed any web analytics platform, is an excellent source of quantitative data. It can tell you who is visiting your site, what pages they are most interested in, where they are getting lost, and more. Navigation patterns, traffic sources, and conversion data is all crucial to optimizing your user experience and your marketing strategy.

But quantitative data is just one kind of data we need.

What Is Google Analytics Bad At?

While Google Analytics can tell you what is happening and how it is happening, it cannot begin to explain why something is happening. That is qualitative data, and it is just as important to understand how to improve your website, thereby improving the customer journey.

To get the answer to the “why” question, you need to go beyond Google Analytics.

Sources of Qualitative Data

Once you have used Google Analytics to examine where your users are having trouble, you will want to know why. You can look at the pages that they exit from with the smartest minds in your company, and each one of them will come up with a reason that answers the “why” question.

This is where most companies stop, deciding to listen to the person in the room with the most authority and design solutions that solve their chosen “why”. But your company is smarter than that. So what do you do to go further?

  1. Surveys – whether you are surveying users as they move through your site or sending them a follow up email, surveys allow you to ask questions about their behavior that go beyond analytics. You can ask them why they chose to visit the site, what they were looking for, and why they did or did not end up completing a purchase.

  2. Focus Groups – getting a bunch of your customers/users in a room together and asking them questions about why they shop with you, and what they like or dislike about the experience of using your website, is a great way to get ideas about how to improve from the very mouths of your user base.

  3. Interviews – one on one conversations with different customers combine the best of surveys and focus groups, giving folks a prominent voice and asking them to explain their behavior in depth.

When Does A/B Testing Come In?

A/B testing is another way to generate great quantitative data, after incorporating solutions derived from the qualitative sources above. You can get very close to defining why your users are behaving in a certain way, because you asked them. Then you took those answers back to your designers, developers, and product teams, and they created new experiences meant to solve any and all issues that people are having on your website.

That is where A/B testing comes in. You apply their changes and test them against the current website, to see if the applied solutions end up improving activity on the website.

You can do this on the live website, with all of your users as a test group, or in a more controlled-way, observing how individual users interact with the different versions of your site and asking them for feedback directly.

What Are Your Key Business Questions?


On Monday, we posted what has already become one of our most-read posts of the year, entitled “Who is Your Data Expert?” If you have not had a chance to read it, take a few minutes to do so now.

Enough readers have reached out with follow up questions about recruiting and hiring data analysts and scientists that we thought it a good idea to remind everyone of the critical step every company should take before employing your data expert.

You must know your key business questions (KBQs).

What is a Key Business Question

Key business questions are the questions that your data expert will be tasked with answering. They are the questions you have about business performance that are central to the overall strategy you are deploying, or considering deploying in the future.

The best way to define key business questions is to look at a few examples…

A key business question for Netflix (and most subscription-based businesses) is, “how long does each new customer stay with us?” The answer to that question will guide marketing and acquisition strategy. It will tell the marketing team how valuable each customer is, and what the return on investment is for each campaign.

Going a step deeper, another key business question could be, “what causes a customer to quit the service?” To become more profitable without raising prices, Netflix can lower the cost of acquiring new customers, or it could build strategies for keeping customers longer. It is only by knowing what causes a customer to quit the service that they might develop interventions that affectively keep people subscribed.

In this way, KBQs are the questions you ask to derive the key metrics you need to operate your business successfully. You may know the answers already, and you may not. But two things are supremely important:

  1. Knowing the answers without knowing the question doesn’t help you. This is like looking at a business dashboard that is overly complex and does not drill down into the key performance indicators that truly matter.

  2. Once you can agree on your KBQs, you need to ensure that you get accurate answers to those questions. Those answers are going to be what you use to drive strategy going forward.

Who is Your Data Expert?


Every marketing team in 2018 needs a data expert. Who’s yours?

Your data expert is the go-to person for questions that require data. And that’s most questions.

One of the greatest things about being a marketer in today’s world is the amount of raw data available. Companies can truly be data-driven, meaning that we no longer make guesses or use instincts to make some of the most important decisions in our organizations.

If we want to know whether customers who find us on Google are more valuable than customers who find us on Facebook, we can look it up. If we want to know whether a 20% off coupon increases revenue over the long term, we can look it up. If we want to know if changing the shopping cart pages on our website increase conversion rate, we can look it up.

The answers are out there. Your data expert is the person who is going to get them for you.

Data Expert Skills

Your data expert comes with a set of skills required to do the job. Ideally, these are skills that he or she has fine-tuned over many years in the field. But not always.

First and foremost, your data expert has a strong attention to detail. They are well-organized, and will take the time to fully understand the definition of every metric and piece of data. It is easy when looking at a large data set to miss errors and misclassify items. Your data expert will know how to avoid these types of mistakes that might lead you down the wrong path.

Your data expert will know what data to look for to answer your questions. They will be able to simplify the answer to your question by only showing you the analysis that matters and leaving out all of the data that has no bearing on the specific conversation.

In addition to mastery of statistics and statistical methods, your data expert will know how to tell a story with numbers. They will know how to present the analysis in such a way that you, and all other non-data experts, will be able to see and understand the conclusions clearly.

Lastly, your data expert will be able to identify and signal where the holes are in your data. They will be honest about the answers they are not able to get and why. And they should be able to recommend changes in business practices to fill those holes to make future analysis achievable.

Where to Find a Data Expert

These are roles that exist, and more and more people are learning the skills to fill them. You will find your data expert the same way you find the rest of your team.

  • Job boards – you are looking for data analysts, data scientists, statisticians, business analysts, or the like. Each of these titles carries different skills and levels of experience, so do some research on what separates them and understand who you are looking for.

  • Existing employees – perhaps you have someone on staff who is a data expert and you never even knew. Ask around and let people know you are looking to fill this type of role. You might be surprised at who raises their hand.

  • Consultants and outside groups – there are many companies who you can tap to supply data expertise on a part time or project by project basis. Find out who has experience in your industry and reach out to ask about rates and processes.

How to Get the Most from Your Data

Many companies today claim to be data-driven. But few of them actually are.

What most companies mean when they say that they are data-driven is…

  • We know we should be data-driven, and

  • We look at some data on a regular basis, but

  • We still make decisions based on anecdotes and gut instinct.

In order to become a data-driven company, in the truest sense of the description, you must do three things well:

  1. You must work toward a clean and complete data set. This requires a clearly articulated strategy around data collection and reporting.

  2. You must understand exactly what the data is telling you. Implied in this is the fact that data can be interpreted in a variety of ways.

  3. You must trust that relying on your data in all decision making processes will lead to better outcomes.

Your data expert will help you achieve each of these, if you find the right person.

Best Practices for Abandoned Cart Emails

Ask any business with an online shopping presence what their biggest frustration is, and they’ll probably answer, “abandoned shopping carts.” In fact, there are far too many carts that get items added only to be left behind—and it can be difficult to determine why.

The reasons for consumers abandoning a cart are many. They might be frustrated by the whole process and not want to set up an account. They might feel that there are fees that were tacked on the end that they weren’t expecting. Or they might just have gotten busy.

But email is a good way to help those abandoned carts get active again. The trick is working out the timing of the email and the message must-includes, such as a clear statement about refunds. Want to discover how to craft those emails so they’re successful? Try the tips in this graphic.

Abandoned Cart Emails: Your Best Tips, Tricks, and Examples

Create a Memorable Customer Service Experience


We hope that no one will ever need to deal with our customer service teams. We hope that the products or services that we offer are so good, that there are never any difficulties fulfilling somebody’s order, that everyone loves the brand and their experience with it so much that there is no need for a customer service department at all.

And that’s probably why most companies think about customer service last. It’s also why most customer service experiences are terrible.

Because the truth is, no matter the company or the product, some percentage of your customers will come into contact with your customer service teams. And that experience is going to determine a lot about what happens to them, and to your company’s efforts overall.

What is a memorable customer service experience?

A memorable customer service experience is one that leaves the customer feeling good about the company. Most customers are only going to reach out to your customer service team if they have a problem. For that reason, many of them are going to be angry or upset or confused. Needless to say, they are not a good mood. They have a problem and they expect you to solve it.

That said, too many of our own experiences with customer service from various organizations in the past have left a bad taste in our mouths. So the bar is not high to create a memorable experience.

Why create a memorable customer service experience?

A memorable customer service experience can do three things for your company.

First, it can grow customer loyalty. If someone has a good experience with customer service, they have a better overall impression of your brand. With that, they are more likely to remain with you rather than switch to your competitor.

Second, it can lead to word of mouth marketing and organic growth. Someone who has a memorable experience with your customer service team, because they went out of their way to solve her problem, is likely to talk about it. They will become brand advocates, perhaps spreading the word offline, perhaps leaving reviews online. That customer will bring in additional customers.

Third, it will decrease refunds and returns. Poor customer service experiences often precede cancellations and returns. If you can deliver high-level customer service, you can head many of those off.

How to create a memorable customer service experience?

Step one to creating a more memorable customer service experience is to prioritize it in your business. Don’t just pay lip service to it. Make it a core part of your organizational culture.

Step two is to empower your people to deliver great service. Often it is the people on the front lines who will have the best sense of what customers are looking for. Give them a say in all customer service-related decisions.

Step three is to measure results. Develop a simple customer service dashboard with key metrics you can share and set goals around. These might be rates of resolution, average time to resolution, surveys delivered to customers after contact, etc.

Bottom Line: No one ever created a memorable customer service experience by accident.