If you don’t have any type of analytics or data set up, it probably should be the first thing you do before you go to bed tonight. Really, it’s that important. I’ve learned the hard way that really making sure that you’re asking the right questions and that you have the right data points set up can really make or break your business from a profitability standpoint. Our guest today is Michael Loban, Chief Growth Officer of the analytics consulting company, InfoTrust. He is also the coauthor of the Amazon best-seller Crawl, Walk, Run: Advancing Analytics Maturity with Google Marketing Platform. We’re talking to him about the ways you can (and should) use analytics for your company.
One of the things you should be most aware of is your website. We talk about digital transformation: the process you take to give your website a complete refresh. This is the route you should take if your website hasn’t been touched at all in years. There is another option besides transformation, however, and it is one that big companies use. Michael calls it digital evolution: changing and tweaking something new every day. This process is so subtle that customers often don’t notice it, and it helps you avoid the intensive process of a digital transformation.
There are so many options in the Google marketing platform, and it can get overwhelming. Don’t worry: Michael explains the differences between each platform and what they do. He also explains which ones may be the best options for your business.
So many people are so excited to begin running ads, but their decisions can often turn into expensive experiments if they are not careful. Before you invest in any advertising, ask yourself how you came to the conclusion that you needed the advertising. Then, validate your decision. If you can’t do either of these things, then you are not ready to invest. Also, always make sure you keep your advertising to a budget that you can afford to lose because advertising is a learning curve.
Finally, non-compliance fines are a big deal. Avoid these by being respectful of your customer’s data and by asking for permission before you do anything with it. It really comes down to your integrity as a business owner. Do what’s right, and you won’t get into trouble. Listen in to learn even more exciting things about the world of analytics!
- The difference between digital transformation and digital evolution
- Which Google marketing tools are best for you
- What you should do before investing in ads
- How to avoid non-compliance fines
The easiest way to persuade somebody is not for me to use my opinion or say I wrote a book about it. Instead, we build a couple of quantitative models and see which one can deliver us more results.
Good advertising can help customers make good decisions.
You always want to look at the progress. Do not look at absolute number. Just look at how things are progressing.
MORE ABOUT OUR GUEST
As a kid, Michael Loban wasn’t interested in analytics or statistics or even math. As an adult, however, he became interested in analytics because he had questions that needed to be answered. He wondered what businesses really needed and how he could provide for that need. Analytics helped him answer these questions. Today, he is the Chief Growth Officer at InfoTrust, an analytics consulting company. His co-authored book, Crawl, Walk, Run: Advancing Analytics Maturity with Google Marketing Platform, is an Amazon Best-seller.
- Check Out Michael's Book: Crawl, Walk, Run – HERE
I'm back for another episode of business unveiled. And I'm super excited to talk with our guest today. Because I know how important it is to have analytics and data in your company. If you don't have any type of analytics or data set up, it probably should be the first thing you do before you go to bed tonight. And there's lots of different ways that you can do it. But I've learned the hard way that really making sure that you're asking the right questions, and you have the right data points set up, can really make or break your business from a profitability standpoint. And so today, we're going to talk with Michael Lubin, he's the co author of the Amazon best selling book ready for the subject, crawl, walk, run, advancing analytics maturity with Google marketing platform.Continue Reading
And if you don't know what Google marketing platform, or Google Analytics, or Google business manager or Google as many as you like, there's so many things Google, that I realized that not everyone knows a lot about and so I'm super excited to talk with him today, Michael, thanks for being here. Or it's absolute pleasure. Thank you for having me. Yay. So before we jump off and start talking about the good stuff, yes. Tell us how did you get into this? Like, as a kid? Were you always fascinated by numbers and data? Or was it something that you like worked into? So like, take us back and let us know your journey and how you got into where you're at today?
Absolutely. So as a kid that I really was not much into analytics, or statistics, or math. And what got me into this, and especially the evolution of my role over the past couple of years, was more around understanding what businesses and organizations that we've worked with needed, and how do we provide this to them. And about eight to 10 years ago, working with them for trust, they started to notice that organizations are doing a really great job, in many ways, coming up with ideas, marketing, messages, promotions to do some very interesting stuff on social media. But then the question would come up. So how did that work for us, and you will often get blank stare. And we thought, well, maybe there is an opportunity to do things a little bit better a little bit differently using data. And on one hand, over the past 10 years, it seems like we've come a long way. But on the other hand, it feels like they're still in that space of not quite knowing what to do with all the data that we have access to. And to give you an idea. We just passed through Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and every retailer has big sales, every retailer runs a lot of advertising campaigns sum. And the matter is, all of our partners, which are usually very large enterprises run different advertising campaigns, and the madness couple of the masking at the end of the day. So how effective were those campaigns, and each one without as well, we generated X number of revenue, we sold X number of products and my next question to them, well, but what would happen to these customers over the next six to nine months? Do you think you just overpaid for short term sales may be the ones that were not even profitable for your business because you ended up given out products 50% of 60% off? wasn't really a good investment. Yes, you generated some buzz. Yes, you generated
Like in sales. But what happens in the next six to nine months? Did you just borrow sales that would naturally happen to your business and you overpaid for them? And not many organizations had a very concrete answer. So that's what I'm often referring to when we say that, yes, there is more data. Yes, they are getting better at collecting the information. But I think they are still, at early stages, or some organizations that still at early stages have taken the data and determine are they making better more informed more profitable decisions using that data?
In so many people, like you said, don't understand it. And so even one of our clients, they do large, large, large revenue, and they literally want to fly by the seat of their pants,
which I don't do. I learned the hard way, don't do that. And so we've tried to call it potty train your brain, we've tried to potty train them, we've tried to do templates, we've tried to do all these things. And the owner, the company who pops on these calls, sometimes he's like, well, I just want to do this. And I just want to do that. And I don't like that image. And finally, like, I just couldn't take it anymore. And I'm like, This relationship is not going to work. Because you have all these data sets. And all these points. We're pulling things from HubSpot, we're running ads on Facebook or run ads on LinkedIn, we're using Instagram, you're paying X amount of dollars to large firms, ad agencies to drive 100,000 plus users to your site weekly. And your site, you know, the site wasn't set up correctly, you know, we were hired to like help them market online programs. And then when I got into the backend of it, I'm like, I can't market anything, your your site's not set up appropriately. You don't have keywords, it's not optimized. It's not set up, oh, by the way, your analytics is owned by someone else. He was just a mess. And so you know, we ripped it apart over the past few months and tried to put it back together. But I'm like, well, we need to look at the analytics and the data from all of the different systems that you're using. And we need to gather the data, run some reports, do some split testing before we dump 10 grand into a funnel. And he's like, what analytics? What are you talking about? What do you mean? And I'm like, do I need to screen share? I mean, you get these reports. But the bottom line is most entrepreneurs are we own multiple companies, and we're so busy, that we don't stop to pay attention. And that's like the worst thing you can do. Like I was one of those people to one time, and I ended up wasting a bunch of money. So when people come to you, I get my question is like, how do you break it down so that people like he thought I was be He's like, quit talking? Like, are you saying words that I don't understand. I'm like, I'm not trying to anger you. I'm just telling you, what you think, and what you want to throw money at? And what results are going to come out of this in 30 days when you don't get the sales you want, or the conversions. And exactly what you said they don't think long term, I'm thinking of a nurturing, or branding and the nurturing, and then start small. Let's not start with 3000 product online for Legion, you know, so how, what's your approach? And again, I'm never trying to anger anybody or like make them mad or talk over their head. But I find myself at times thinking like, I don't even know how to tell you this, but I'm not going to take your money and do what you're asking me to do. Because I already know it's not going to work. So what would your approach be to people like that? Other than fire them? Well, I love what do you have mentioned And truth be told
everyone these days, has to be very careful about where their time goes. And so number of conversations where I feel like there's just the person does not seem to be open to entertain and another approach or leveraging data to its capabilities. I've asked myself, is it really a fight worth pursuing? Because I know there are plenty of other organizations that understand already the value of data, and that do not need to spend hours and hours explaining god why they need the dashboard that works and tells them exactly what to do and what not to do. But if there is a chance, right, and the person that I'm speaking to is open to alternatives. I think the easiest way to persuade somebody is not for me to use my opinion, was a while I wrote the book about it. That's not really how I hide to the ads more. Let's build a couple of quantitative models and see which one can deliver us more
And so let's say we have a website. And we can bring people to the website via social media traffic, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, whatever that is. And we can bring the traffic to our website, we are running lots advertising campaigns on one app works.
And then based on my knowledge of the industry and cost per click across different campaigns, I will build a mathematical model where I can present to the client and say, based on my hypothesis is that based on what we are seeing, if you invest X amount of dollars in your social media, we're going to generate this much revenue for your business. If you are going to invest X amount of revenue in your
AdWords, you're going to generate this much revenue. It's never one or the other. So our hypothesis is that we should split your budget in the following ways. And we want to give ourselves 30 days to see if our hypothesis is accurate. And if not, then we can reiterate. And when the able to present to organization, this type of quantitative model, and explain, based on what information I am making my building my hypothesis, it becomes much easier, right? Because, yes, we can argue opinions that does really matter. At the end of the day, the question is, how can we test my hypothesis, your hypothesis? And how can we figure out which one will actually generate us more revenue, more profitability? That's how I tend to approach it.
Totally, that's a much more calm approach than me. I'm just like,
it's Yeah, so it's crazy. So for major companies, and even small companies that have been in business for a really long time. How can they Why should they consistently like, look at their digital assets? And then, like, if, when would you recommend, like, undergoing like a digital transformation, like is that once a year or once a quarter? Like, for people that don't do this on a regular basis? Like, what does that mean? And why should you do it as a as a business owner?
step back and ask ourselves what is really digital transformation, right? If we talk about digital transformation, usually, and we talk about this in the book quite a bit,
we become to the idea of digital transformation, usually, because something has not been done for a while, right? Be forgot to add consumption for extended period of time. And now they have to come in and they have to transform, right? And that's why often you see enterprises hiring digital transformation officer or head of a digital transformation, it means Okay, we see clearly see that there is an opportunity possibly be a little bit behind it, right? Because you don't hire transformation officer if you are ahead of the curve. Or if you are very much in line of what is going on in the industry. You don't need to transform you can afford to do it. So that was my first question is how do we know that we are actually falling behind? And then my next question as nurse not tried to compare ourselves to what other organizations are doing. But ask ourselves a question, what does our audience what are our customers interested in? What do they need that? What problems are they trying to solve? And then determine how we can use digital technologies to bring the student I think the challenge is just let's go through the digital transformation process around is why we end up with so many organizations kind of saying we need to now go and sell directly online to our customers. Why was the customer Genie but yet another 1000s of e commerce websites that are selling what you can already buy on Amazon on walmart.com? Right on target.com? Probably not. So the question is, well, maybe digital information has to mean something different for us, because our customers want something else. So to me, the ability for organization to transform digitally is all about how can we use digital technologies and certain analytics to better understand what our customers is interested in and how we can deliver to them in the best possible way. So I and once that is done, the one organization is on track to doing that I'm a much bigger fan of digital evolution, right? How do we slowly progress? And how do we continuously innovate in a digital space? Now to answer your question more directly, how does the organization know that it's time for them to transform or do we need to redo the website or not is a question that often comes up right. Somebody has
A website for two or three years and now should we rebrand? Should they make changes to? Well, if you've not made changes to your website over two or three years, that's the problem within itself, right? Why aren't we continuously improving our website, we have plenty of data about what pages people visit, and what content people are looking at what information people might be requesting, from us or through contact us forms? What if I'm in business or professional services? Right? What questions are people asking on a podcast? Can I create more relevant content about this information and have it on my website and then promoted? Right? And then through these types of iterations? Yes, you might every once in a while saving it, more substantial changes to our website, but you will be much more
in line is what your audience is interested in, you're not really going to fall behind. And if you look at websites, like Walmart, or Amazon, and many other websites that are considered best in class, you rarely go to the website look into their asking, so what happened? It feels like a brand new website like the one I've never been to now. But they always every single day, right? They make small tweaks, they make small changes, based on what date they sell on them, and they're always burden hypothesis. Can I make this page show more products? Can they make the space show less products? Do I need the product carousel? Maybe I need to remove it? Maybe I need to show product carousel only to people that come to my website, from advertising campaign. Right. So through those intricacies. So through those small changes, is how we can actually make our website incrementally better.
We have tried really hard to like keep ours up to date as we go. And then about every three years, it's like, okay, we're gonna go through and do a rehaul. But we definitely monthly look at the analytics by page. And that's how we choose like, what goes on our homepage, like your real estate, like your home page. So I feel like we use the data, you know, the right way to like put on the homepage where you don't want to bury someone on your website, if people need it and want it right. So I'm interested to know just myself more about leveraging Google marketing. Because you know, I love Google Analytics. If the dashboards so correctly for what you need is free. And I know that some businesses still don't really look at it, because they don't know what they're looking at, or they don't know how to read it. But even going further than Google Analytics, and the Google marketing, like the whole platform has so many options. And I feel like even myself as a business owner, like it can be very overwhelming. But from a Google perspective, can you share more about what Google marketing platform is? And what should business owners be paying attention to from the Google marketing platform?
Absolutely. So and in the book, we talk about integrate tech stand about what Google marketing platform and clothes. But if you are talking to a small to medium sized business owner, the first one is obviously Google Analytics, which allows you to better understand what happens on your website, how it performs. And I think the challenge of why people often do not look at Google Analytics is because it can be overwhelming, right? There's so many different data points, there are so many dashboards, there's so many charts. So the question that you need to ask yourself, what are what is the group of metrics that is really important to me, right? If your website is all about content, and you have a regular blog, then the question is, what can I learn about my blog from analytics? What are people reading? What content people are paying attention to? What articles are they spending the most time on? What articles lead them to fill out the contact us form? So then you can make the decision, hey, I need to produce more of the scandal. Or I need to be promoting this content online. Because I know that when people read this content, it leads to them contacting me, or with more content on my website, right? So if you really need to focus on that set of metrics that is important to us. And a lot of times organizations tend to obsess about a certain metric, well, is my bounce rate, high or low? Is the time on the website high or low? And to me, the answer is, well, you always want to look at the progress. So do not look at the absolute number. Just look at how things are progressing over months, two months, three months, and that will give you an idea of how actually you're doing. The other solution with Google marketing platform that is also incredibly important. is Google Optimize which allows you to do split tests.
on a website, which allows you to experiment with website design and see what resonates with people before you actually make a permanent change.
Got it. And certainly Google AdWords or
Google ads, running ad campaigns. I'm a big proponent of running campaigns. Just to test your hypothesis on a website, right? The for example, you're interested in launching a new product or a new service, and you're writing a lot of new content in that sort of topic, allocate some money to AdWords to very specific longtail keywords, and see if people are clicking on that
message, and how that translates to
engagement on your website.
So I'm not even familiar myself with what is the difference? So optimize 360 and then Data Studio? What exactly
do those what's the difference between them? So 360, within Google marketing platform means if the product is enterprise or paid solution, or if it's a free one, so Google Analytics is a free product by Google, there is also analytics 360, which is an enterprise version of Google Analytics that has an investment associated with them. You have Google optimized, which is an A B testing solution. And then you have Google Optimize 360, which is a paid solution that has
more features, more enterprise features, and Google Data Studio. It's a dashboard. It's a visualization
platform. So it automatically integrates this, for example, Google Analytics and other platforms. And then you can better visualize your data. But I would say companies that should be looking at Google Data Studio are the ones that have already used Google Analytics, we already set up some reports and custom to look at the data. Otherwise, you might fall into this trap of trying to build a perfect dashboard without building a skill of how to actually interpret the data and figuring out what to make.
Got it. So are some of these better for service based businesses versus amid retail, and when I say mid retail, I mean, like a, a gym membership, or, like, I don't know if you know what pure sweat float is, but it's like this new place, you know, where it's like a membership and you can go there. And you know, you can you can go and become a member to get blowouts at a certain place. Yes. Versus like a Walmart and Anam, you know, like they're really large. And so what is best for service based versus like the membership, smaller retail, and then like the larger retail like, does that matter with the different products, not from Google Analytics. So service based business or small retailer can all benefit from Google Analytics,
and enterprise such as Walmart, Nordstrom Mesa, so they will probably need Google Analytics 360 for the advanced functionality that that product offers. But if you're, for example, a small gym, our membership website, Google Analytics has ecommerce reporting. So you can actually see all product sales on your website, you can even see profitability by product on your website, you can measure return on advertising spend, right within Google Analytics, and you only need a free version, you do not need an enterprise version. And Google Data Studio. It doesn't really matter if your services business or ecommerce business for you to use it. I would say it more depends on your analytics, maturity, and How comfortable are you is actually using analytics solution. And again, my first step of the person who is listening maybe to this podcast, has not played with analytics is not in this daily habit of looking at the data, Google Analytics reports and go should be sufficient to get you started. And then you can certainly build and customize a lot more reports and interesting dashboards than tools like Google Data Studio. And Google optimized. So again, the same it's an A B testing, it's a testing solution for your website for your digital property. Doesn't really matter if you're an e commerce business. So if your professional services business, you can still use it. But you do need to have certain amount of traffic on your website. Otherwise, the results are just not going to be very meaningful or statistically significant.
Awesome. So you mentioned Google Ad words. What is the biggest mistake that you see business businesses that would make an investment in Google AdWords? What's the biggest
thing that you see that is just a mistake, like don't waste your money and don't use AdWords unless you set it up right and look at your data. I know that, what do you find that people are kind of wasting money and throwing money away like, or if someone wanted to run Google or use Google AdWords? What are like the top three mistakes, you see that they should make sure that they're not making those mistakes?
For me, wherever I'm looking at analytics behind a certain campaign, or whatever somebody is asking me, how can you help us evaluate the success of this campaign? My first question is, what are we trying to learn from here? Right? Because a lot of times companies are trigger happy to run an advertising campaign. But what determines the success of this campaign, even if it did not result and 100 sales, but you learn something, and now you understand, hey, this message with the stock resume, I need to go with a different type of question. That's an important thing that now you understand, and maybe it was worth paying for. And so to me, wherever you're about to spend money on advertising campaign, obviously, the first one is, what do you want to measure as a result of this campaign? And the second one is what do you want to learn from this campaign.
And I would say the last mistake is
when people are playing this, that and do not
allocate budget that they can actually afford to lose. And what I mean by that is, if you have not used let's say, Facebook advertising, or Google advertising, or any other platform, and you want to experiment, give yourself a budget and say, Look, I can afford to spend 1000, or 2000 $3,000, to learn this, and to see kind of what happens. And then play it as this amount, obviously, or hire somebody who can do that for you. And see what you can learn a lot of times company will say, I just burn through $5,000, that was my advertising budget for six months, well, then probably this was not the right channel for you to leverage, right? Maybe you should that went the other route. Or maybe you should look at the cheaper ways to get your message out. Maybe a look at more organic type of way to drive your traffic to the website.
Awesome. Well, what it all comes down to at least in my experience, what I see is the business owners or entrepreneurs, they don't really understand that there has to be a strategy.
Like you said, you have to ask these questions where people will come to us and say,
can you set? Can you? I want to be number one on Google, I can you do this and do this and do this? I just want a lot of hits to my website, or I just want to be number one from Google. But then I'm thinking, Okay, well, let's set it up. So we track it. And what's converting. And some of the things that I have found is that before we even will take on a client and help them with some of these stuff is you have to don't spend the money and run ad words to a shitty site that's confusing your prospect client or customer, or, or whatever you want to call it. So do you have like a checklist for people that before they start to even think it's a Facebook ads are the exact same way? You're like, can you run me out, I want to make some money in my sleep. And I'm not. And I'm like, I don't know, you've been listened to. But this shit don't work like that. And you have no data and you have no landing page. And your homepage has 13 call to actions, like they don't understand the behind the scenes of it. So it's like, do you have a checklist like in your head of like, okay, you need to make sure that you've done this, you've done this, and you've done this before you start to run ads?
Right? That's a great, great question. I'm saying, that's how you approach this. This is your clients.
Look, I'm not the pay per click expert. I do not run advertising campaigns. So I look at it from the data analytics standpoint. And such, you know, when somebody wants to run a campaign, I want to look at what Give me your template for data. Right? Almost, how would you want to report on this? And what are your hypothesis in terms of what this campaign though January? So I want to see the math that went into planning. How many clicks are you expect to buy? How many visitors Do you plan to get on your website as a result of that? And what will be let's say your conversion rate, and then I want to see how those assumptions were
made? And then you run the campaign, did we meet those assumptions? Or did they exceed them? Or did we fail miserably. And we ended up not meeting what we were hoping to accomplish. But what can we learn as a result of this? Right? So for me, I always want to look at how did we arrive at this decision? And how are we going to validate this decision? Because otherwise, to your point, it becomes very much a debate of opinions. Well, I want to promote this, or I want to use this better, or I want to use this better? And my answer is, all of you absolutely right. All these banners are amazing. So let's determine how we can test which one is going to work. And then the one that's going to work is the one that we're going to double down.
It's just so true. So for all of you listening, which we'll put this in the show notes, like, info trust is, is your company. And so it says better, it's very clear, very clear, better data, better decisions. How did you arrive at that header for your website? Did you use data? Yeah, but it wasn't easy, but definitely tested different ones. But
at the end of the day, we are always when they meet with our partners, and we meet with our clients. And they actually, it's an interesting time of year, because we have annual reviews planning for next year. When we do annual plants as our partners, we always are aiming to learn from them. So data doesn't just mean to the website data means also ask people that you work this right. So we often ask them, why did you decide to work with us in the first place? What should we be learning from the industry? In your opinion? And what are the other partners that you work with that we can learn from? And, you know, when we ask our partners about ultimately, so what exactly are you buying when you're working this info trust? Because there are many organizations that can set up your Google Analytics, right? It's not really a proprietary knowledge that we have, yes, there are certain things that we do, arguably much better than others that he was speaking. But at the end of the day, Google Analytics is Google Analytics. And it often comes down to well, you help us make better decision easier.
And because if you're running advertising, or if you work for a very large marketing company and your budgets and millions of dollars a month, you do not want to be the person standing in a boardroom trying to explain how you managed to lose a million dollars. So why for the budget that you will give them right you did you underperform.
So our goal is to use analytics to give people the clarity of what is the best channel where they should be investing and how to get the best ROI.
It's fascinating. It's so fascinating. So for companies that need to be aware, and let's just assume that people listening do not know what some of these acronyms acronyms are about non compliance fines, which is funny, it's actually been like a theme for today. And for GD p r and ccpa. Like, can you explain those? And how can companies make sure that they are in compliance?
Sure. So the short answer, there's a lot of content that we have on our website that people can check out and certainly in the boedker
GDPR, especially the ccpa, the California consumer Privacy Act,
I would say many ways, other results of some organizations, mistreating customer data, and using the data that they collect about customers in a way that customer did not know about, not wanted to write no give the authorization.
It really comes down to asking for permission to collect information, then treating the information the right way and not sharing that is purchase aware your customer does not give you permission. And when customer is inquiring about the data, that you should provide this data to them as far as what you know about them. And there are different there is also a privacy. There are very number of different regulations and more and more regulations accordingly. One thing that we know, especially this year, is that more regulations are going to take place, helping customers to protect their privacy online. If you're a small to medium organization, and check out some of the resources