Mckinsey Global Institute found that data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, six times more likely to retain customers, and 19 times more likely to be profitable.
Charles Davis is a data analytics expert. He is Vice President and a partner at Blast Analytics & Marketing, a strategic analytics consulting company. Blast solves clients’ data challenges to help optimize marketing campaigns, improve customer experience, increase competitive advantage, and, ultimately, EVOLVE organizations. Blast has been named one of Inc. magazine’s top 5000 fastest-growing private companies.
In this episode, Charles Davis shares strategies to use data analytics to make data-driven decisions that drive growth.
Charles’ Journey to Become an Analytics Expert
In college, Charles’ wife had an incredible idea to start a meal preparation business. Charles was studying biology and computer science at the time, but when he graduated, he and his wife focused on growing this meal preparation business for about five to six years. Their business had so much growth they expanded to about 20-25 different locations.
As Charles was growing his meal preparation business, he was a client of Blast Analytics and worked very closely with the CEO of Blast Analytics. After selling the meal preparation business, Blast offered Charles a job, and Charles joined their team. Blast now provides a great place to work for about 65 teammates across the country.
Making Data-Driven Decisions and Using Intuition: Putting the Two Together
Insight-driven businesses are growing at an average of 30% each year; by 2021, they are predicted to take $1.8 trillion annually from their less-informed industry competitors. (source: Keboola)
While I worked at Deseret Digital Media with Clark Gilbert, one of his core strategies was making data-driven decisions. He taught me that it doesn’t matter what my opinion is or somebody else’s opinion is, test them both, and let’s find out what actually works. Then, let’s make our decisions based on the data.
That was an enlightening perspective that changed my view about business decision-making. Too often, business decisions are made based on “who” is right, and we end up making less-effective decisions than when we collect great data and make decisions based on that data. Data-driven decisions can often make us look really smart.
Charles and Blast help their clients do more of what works and less of what doesn’t by leveraging data analytics and intuition. Charles said, “As a good business person or a good human, we have good intuition in the details. We can also use data to drive that intuition forward and make sure that our business decisions are as informed as they can be. I worry sometimes that people think making data-driven decisions means we’re not using our business sense or intuition.”
He followed up by explaining that our intuition doesn’t work if we are using bad data to make a decision. We should consider being more data-driven. “Making good data-driven decisions means we’re making that decision with all the right information we need in order to make the best decisions we can.”
How to Build Credibility Through Industry Associations
In the book I’m writing, I focus on credibility as one of the most important tectonic shifts today. Credibility can come in many different ways, such as through participating with associations and tradeshows.
Charles described two of the biggest factors that have helped Blast build credibility through industry associations and events.
- Serving as part of the Digital Analytics Association.
Charles has been a member of the Digital Analytics Association and volunteered his time on different initiatives. He recently joined the board of directors. He has also helped lead the local Bay Area Chapter for seven to eight years. The opportunity to serve and help the digital analytics industry move forward through educational events and other initiatives has helped build credibility for Charles and Blast while working with peers from different companies.
- The longevity of going to conferences and events.
These events and conferences have all gone online during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Charles is still able to connect with those he has seen every year from various conferences and summits. “I’ve presented at different conferences as well, and those give you the opportunity to build credibility. One of the great things about our industry is that it is a very supportive industry,” Charles said.
There is a Slack channel that has also been set up within the digital analytics industry, which allows people to connect, ask questions, and receive responses to their questions. “It’s things like that: the sharing of knowledge, the participating in the community, etc. that ultimately builds credibility. Almost every industry has some kind of community associated with it, and if you go into that community looking to serve, you will gain a good reputation. It will give you an opportunity to grow and progress your career.”
The Most Important Pieces of Data: Quantitative & Qualitative
Charles explains that there are two types of data every entrepreneur should be looking for, and how we can use those types of data to learn about our customers and business.
“When we talk about data, we often only think of what we would call quantifiable data. This includes how many visitors come to our website, how many sales we have, etc. What’s often missing with this data is the qualitative side, such as why were those people coming to our website, and why did they make purchases,” Charles said. If he were to give advice to any entrepreneur, it would be to understand the difference between quantitative data and qualitative data and then collect both.
Charles described a curse of knowledge that we entrepreneurs sometimes have. “We know our business really well and how everything works. Then we get blind spots when somebody from the outside comes in, uses our product or service, and then tells us they don’t know how to get from ‘Step A’ to ‘Step B.’ However, we think it’s obvious how to go from step A to B.”
Blast was working with a client by conducting a quantitative test. This company had enough traffic, so they decided to do A/B testing. In this case, they discovered results they weren’t expecting. Luckily, they also had qualitative data on top of that test, and they were able to survey a small percentage of the customers. What they found was that a set of customers were coming to specific website pages who had a completely different purpose for being there than what was expected. They never would have discovered this if they just relied on the A/B test.
“As entrepreneurs, if we can understand the difference between qualitative and quantitative data, and incorporate both as inputs to our learning, that’s my best advice.” – Charles Davis
Digital Analytics Tools
Some great tools in the digital analytics world that Charles recommends are Google Analytics, Google Data Studio, Sessioncam, and Hotjar.
Google provides Google Analytics which is free to customers up to a certain amount of traffic. “Probably 95% of the websites in the world are using Google Analytics because it’s free,” Charles said. This is probably the most well-known free tool.
Google Data Studio
Another tool by Google, Google Data Studio, is not as well-known, but it is a great visualization tool that is pretty simple to use by pulling data from a spreadsheet. Charles said that even relative novices can use the tool to connect a visualization tool to a spreadsheet in order to analyze data better. We can analyze year-to-year trends, segment customers, and more by using Google Data Studio.
Sessioncam and Hotjar
Sessioncam and Hotjar are great tools for gathering qualitative data, and they are fairly inexpensive. We can put them on our websites which will allow us to ask questions or survey customers in order to gather better data.
Analytics to Measure
Charles suggests we always segment our data, and segment specifically our customer base.
No customer has the same needs, nor is any customer the same type. As entrepreneurs, it’s good to understand who our best customers are, what they’re doing, and how often they’re re-purchasing from us. It’s also important to recognize our average customers and worst customers.
“This segmentation of our customer base is probably the most powerful thing that business owners should be doing with their data,” Charles said.
Thank you so much Charles for sharing your stories and knowledge with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:
- Do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t work. Conduct tests to discover what actually works. Then make decisions based upon the data.
- We can make data-driven decisions together with our intuition to improve the success of our decisions.
- Sharing knowledge, being involved, and serving within the community create opportunities to grow our careers and gain credibility.
- Look for ways to gather quantitative and qualitative data.
- There are great, free, and inexpensive tools out there to gather and analyze data such as the Google tools, Sessioncam, and Hotjar.
- Segment data, specifically to a customer base.
Connect with Charles
If you enjoyed this interview and want to learn more about Charles or connect with him, you can find him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlesjdavis/ or check out http://www.blastam.com/.
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