This week, on the Pay-It-Forward blog, we welcome guest editors Melody Jennings Bowers & Shannon Ware. Melody and Shannon are iFundWomen Alum and co-founders of Her Data Method, an online course which teaches women business owners how to build a data collection framework that will help you make smart, data-driven decisions tailored to your business.
To all those who process the word “data” through a veil of trepidation, this blog post is for you. If you are a business owner doing any part of your business online, you will keep bumping into this word until either you or the internet dies, which is why we created Her Data Method.
Her Data Method is an online course that walks you through the steps of setting up your company’s data collection framework, and thanks to our successfully funded iFundWomen campaign, our plan is becoming a reality. We are hustling to start beta testing of the Her Data Method online course in July, and we are on track to have it live in August 2017!
You Are Not Alone
Author and behavioral economist Dan Ariely says it best: “Data is like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it.” If defining your customer profiles or connecting your website to Google Analytics has been low on your to-do list because you aren’t quite sure where to start, trust me when I say that you are already ahead of the game — at least you have those tasks on your list!
In short, you aren’t the only business owner who has no clue where to start with data. But, if you are hoping to grow your business, you will need data — and a clue about what to do with it — in order to make educated and informed decisions. From how to spend your marketing dollars to where to put your social buttons on your homepage, having data that helps you understand your audience will show you where to focus your efforts.
Let’s start by defining what we mean when we talk about data. Data = Information. You can gather information from anyone and everyone who visits your website and social media accounts or opens the email you blasted out. Things like location, demographics, the amount of time users spend on your site, the first page they visited on your site, what page the user was on when they decided to leave your site … basically any interaction your clients/customers have with your business’s website is considered data.
The challenge is figuring out how to collect the data you need to help you make better business decisions. If you want to find a way to boost your online efforts, start paying attention to your data.
Your website is a portal to the land of free information, but did you know that websites should be built for people and search engines? A beautiful website is not enough to help customers find you online through organic search efforts alone. A website must be built to include the information that the search engines look for and value.
Maybe you want to run a paid ads campaign some day? Data matters even more once you start the paid advertising game — those clicks are costly, so you’ll want to have the right info in order to be confident that you’re choosing the right word(s) to invest in. If you aren’t gathering data from your website traffic, you will be playing an expensive guessing game.
It wasn’t until I learned how to code and built a couple of websites from scratch that I understood how things work from the backend of a site and that there are basic fundamentals that are non-negotiable. If you want to have a solid online presence that appeases your customers AND the search engine gods, you will need to learn what kind of information the search engines are looking for.
And no, you do not need to know how to code in order to start collecting data! Three of the most important steps that lay the foundation for your data collection framework happen offline:
Determining your value proposition
Writing a clear mission statement
Defining your customer profiles
If you only figured out these three things, you would be ahead of the game when it comes time to measure and test your assumptions about your customers.
Have I made my case for data yet?
Before your eyes glaze over and panic sets in, I promised to tell you the single most important thing you need to know about data. Ready?
Start collecting data NOW. Period.
That’s it. The only thing that really matters is that you simply start collecting data. In order to use data, you have to have data. You don’t even have to know what it all means or what you are supposed to do with it — and you definitely don’t have to collect it all at once, but! You. Need. To. Start. NOW!
You’ve already done the hard part by starting a business! This is YOUR business! These are YOUR customers! Data collection is part of doing business, just like reconciling your bank statements. It’s part of what you signed up for when you started your company. So, go! Get busy!
We don’t want to get you fired up and then leave you hanging! Here are several topics that we cover in the Her Data Method course that you can start doing right now:
Create your customer personas (Do not skip this step!)
Research keywords and phrases that are used in your industry and by your competitors (Here’s our Super Simple Guide to Keyword Research to help you get started!)
Test your overall site speed HERE
Does all this data talk still look and sound like Greek to you? Don’t want to go it alone? Here are two ways to join our data collection mission:
We invite you to join our new Her Data Method Facebook community! It’s where we invite you to ask all your data questions, and we will NEVER make you feel dumb for asking!