One of the biggest advantages of doing business in 2017 is the ability to track and manage huge amounts data, without the heavy lifting. Reliable data has allowed businesses today to make concrete decisions that would have been nearly blind choices not long ago.
For startups and small businesses, however, the big problem with data is a simple lack of it. When your business is new, many decisions must be made with gut instincts and little more. And yet, these same businesses are competing globally, and there is little room error.
Here at Redbrick, we use Deskmetrics for managing all of our product life-cycle data, from very early on. It can be frustrating (especially for those of us that like to move quickly!) as it takes time to collect and sort information, run A/B split tests, run more A/B split tests, and finally implement impactful changes. Along the way, it’s tough to tell which numbers are meaningful and which need more time to prove their accuracy.
As a business grows, though, it becomes increasingly more important to base decisions on known facts rather than gut feelings. The longer you are in business, the more meaningful data you will have available to you. As you gain access to more data, the right path to follow with each step will become more clear.
Here’s how you can ensure that you are making the best possible data-driven decisions to keep your business on the path to prosperity right from the start.
Start Early And Plan Ahead
Making the shift from gut-guided logic to data-driven decisions is not something that will happen from one day to the next. To make the transition as smooth as possible and get the most out of your data from the start, you’ll need to plan ahead.
First, of course, you’ll need to think about what types of metrics will be important and implement tracking and data gathering. From there, you should decide how long it will take to gather enough data to make each of those metrics accurate enough to be trusted in the decision making process. Within Deskmetrics, this simply involves determining which ‘events’ or triggers you want to gather data points on. Then, you must determine statistical significance.
By estimating how much data you need to make different metrics meaningful you’ll be able to map out a rough time frame for when you can expect to incorporate those metrics into your future decisions.
Set Goals And Measure Success
Of course, it’s great to see good numbers rising and bad numbers falling, but it’s important to break things down into well defined and measureable goals. Seeing overall sales rise over a month, for example, is a positive step. If, however, you were aiming for a 20% increase and only achieved 5%, this could hardly be called a success.
For each team within your company, this becomes increasingly important. Your overall business objectives may have been achieved, but do you know which marketing campaign resulted in the most conversion? Can you tell which exact button, on landing page X, Y & Z led to the highest engagement rate in your in-app funnel and ultimately drove sales up?
Remember, too, that success will be different things for different teams or departments. An overall increase in revenue for the company could translate into cost reductions in resources, a higher close rate in sales, and greater reach in marketing. Make sure that individual teams are aware of their specific goals within any initiative and have the data they need to measure their own success.
Test Your Theories
As you become more comfortable relying on data to illuminate your path, it’s important that you don’t just follow along blindly. Often, data can tell you what is happening, but doesn’t make it blatantly clear why it is happening.
You should always dig a bit deeper and test any correlations that you find. Whether positive or negative, just because two things happened at the same time doesn’t mean that one caused the other, or even that they are related at all.
As helpful as data can be, you don’t want to completely lose touch with those good old gut feelings. Your natural instincts and common sense can help fill some of the gaps where the data just doesn’t fit. On that note, don’t be afraid to use old school tactics, like surveying your users (Google forms works well for that!). When you aren’t getting the answers you need from the data, or can’t be sure of the correlations, your customers can tell you.
Check And Update Your Plans Regularly
You should make it a regular part of your business procedures to step back every so often and see how your overall plans are performing. By regularly reviewing which goals are being met and which are falling short, you keep your business agile. You’ll be able to react sooner when things are headed in the wrong direction and make the most of it when things are going well.
What Are You Doing With Your Data?
Deskmetrics can gather the data you need and transform it into easy to interpret, actionable information that will allow you to build a better product, and in time, a better business. Don’t take our word for it, though. See it for yourself. You can check it out completely free, or set up a custom 1 on 1 demo.