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It’s the new year, a new, fresh start. While self-help folks will debate the semantics of whether a new year really is a new you or not, the reality in the business world is that a new year means new plans, new goals and targets to hit, new budgets, and new ideas to try out. In this episode of In-Ear Insights, listen as cofounders Katie Robbert and Christopher Penn discuss what marketers should be doing to plan and set strategy for the new year. What should be your focus for 2019 marketing planning? What should you avoid? Tune in now.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.

Christopher Penn
This is In-Ear Insights, the Trust Insights podcast,

in this episode of In-Ear Insights, the Trust Insights podcast we are well, everyone is back on the wagon. It is 2019. And of course that brings to light everyone saying, Well, what are the big trends? What should we be doing? What should be paying attention to that, that’d be a good time for us to to remind everyone, before you go and run a marathon, you should probably prepare and the year ahead is going to be preparation require a lot of preparation, because a lots gonna change. So with that, let’s talk about what do you need to prepare for 2019? What do you need to do in the first couple of weeks in order to be ready to run the race? And Katie, you had some thoughts based on some content you were writing at the end of 2018, what should people be doing?

Katie Robbert
Well, I mean, this is was a great question. And I think that people tend to use that end of year as an opportunity to clean things up and start planning and in in my world, in my mind, that’s a huge mistake. Yes, you should clean up and prepare for the new year. But don’t only do it at that one time. So, you know, aside from the usual Make sure your desk is clean, make sure your inbox is cluttered. You unsubscribe from the newsletters that you never read those types of things we really want to talk about, and focus on your marketing metrics, because that’s the thing that is really going to make sure that you’re set up for success. So the first thing that you want to do is audit what it is that you’re even measuring. So have the company goals changed? Have your clients goals change? So that’s the first thing that you need to figure out is, what are the goals and if they’re the same from last year, then that’s, that’s great. That makes it a little bit easier. But in the event that they’ve changed, you need to make sure that you’re capturing the right metrics in order to understand if you’re reaching those goals. So that’s number one. Step number one, actually, I guess before that would even be are you measuring anything?

And if the answer is no, that’s a whole different episode. So let’s, for the sake of conversation, let’s pretend that you’re measuring stuff. So you would audit your goals? Is that where you would start? Chris?

Christopher Penn
Yes. Although I do think there is value in you know, the classic example, pull out your credit card statement and see what you’re what you’ve been paying for a lot of companies, you know, we call them vampires, their their services that you or especially if you’re in a larger marketing organization, someone on your team purchased, and you’re like, what is this thing why we Why are we paying for this thing? And is it just more clutter is it just more data that we were not going to use and because it doesn’t align to our goals, and we don’t need

we were looking at at the end of last year, some UI tracking stuff. And it was one of those like, a do we do we actually need this particular service for it was, it wasn’t a huge amount of money, but now it’s it

based on every economic indicator that I pay attention to, is going to be a volatile year. So anything you can do to to shore up and and optimize is probably a good idea. Probably a good way to start to make sure that you’re running with what you need and free up budget for things you don’t need. And and figure out like, what do we even have? It’s, it’s like in cooking before you sit down to cook that, you know, you know, you got to cook dinner, but you should know what to the pantry. And you should know, like, do I even own these pans like I want to make Ratatouille but I don’t own a baking dish. So bad news?

Katie Robbert
Well, and I feel like that’s a really good point in the conversation for us to discuss a little bit. I think that the default is, well, I don’t have the thing. Let me go out and buy it.

You know. So if you’re looking for, you know, a saute pan, and you don’t have one? Well, can you work with what you already have before you spend money. And I think that that’s part of that auditing, you know, to your point. So take a look at what you’re paying for, and you’re not using. But before you start pulling out the credit card to start buying new stuff, take a step back and think about what do I already have? Is it good enough? Is it good enough for me to, you know, create a souffle to boil an egg? Like, can I do the basic things that I need to do until things turn around? Or to demonstrate, yes, we are succeeding in what we’ve set out to do. Therefore, we can justify spending more money.

Christopher Penn
Yep. And I will say this Google Analytics is is the marketing equivalent of an instant pot, you can do an enormous amount of very versatile things with it. Some things are a little bit hacky side. But But to your point, if, if that’s what you got, I mean, there’s, there’s a fantastic article before the holidays about how you can cook pretty much all of your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner in an instant pot. It will take some planning and some and cleverness, but it can be done if that’s all you’ve got. And so for a lot of marketers, yeah, do you need to have like, super expensive advanced systems know, the nice to have you got them. But Google Analytics really is your instant pot is very versatile, squeeze as much value out of it as you can before spending a whole lot of money, especially since you know, we just had a client engagement not too long ago, kind of listening to people talking about they’ve got this marketing automation software, and the CRM and this and this, all this different analytics. But at the end of the day, they’re still saying, we don’t know what’s really working. And, you know, should we buy, should we buy the software to help, like, no, don’t,

you know, figure out what you got first,

Katie Robbert
I agree. And you’re right. Google Analytics really is the instant pot for the record. My Instant Pot scares the crap out of me. But I’m intimidated very easily by too many buttons.

But I think Google Analytics, unlike the instant pot, the UI is really straightforward. And it’s broken down nicely into categories that are logical. You have your behavioral metrics, you have your audience metrics, you have your conversion metrics, and they are exactly what they sound like. So I couldn’t agree more. I think that Google Analytics, the basic plan, the free plan will suit most companies, you don’t need to purchase the 360 version, which is what

Yeah, and if you’re thinking that that’s where you need to start, again, take a step back and explore what you have in Google Analytics. So I guess that sort of goes back to your original question is, what should you do? Well, make sure you’re tracking something. And Google Analytics is a great place to start for that. Now, the nice thing about Google Analytics is it connects so seamlessly with other Google products, such as Google Data Studio, which is a dashboard software. And you can create dashboards that populate in near real time. So you don’t have to spend all of your time copying and pasting and reformatting. Like you just spend a little time planning up front, creating this Data Studio dashboard. And the data is there on demand, which is so great, it frees up so much of your time,

Christopher Penn
I want to go back to that comment about the buttons. Because if you read a bunch of instant pot blogs, they basically say, 95% of your cooking is going to be done one of two buttons either saute to get ingredients ready, or the pressure cooker button. And there’s mostly other buttons are decorative. Perhaps the one that you might need would be the the yogurt button, because it’s a specialized function. But the rest of decorative to theoretically look like it has more features. But most the time, you’re not going to use them. And when you think about Google Analytics is very much the same inside of each of those menus. There’s like 40 different options. And a lot of people like, Oh, my God, I’m overwhelmed. There’s so much to focus on, you know, there’s so much so many buttons, what do I do? So what are what is the the salty, and pressure cook buttons of Google Analytics? What are the things like, Hey, this is something that you should pay attention to, you’re going to use this button probably a whole lot. But this button over here, the like, for example, the user ID report inside of audience not super helpful or the cohort analysis or really not super helpful.

Katie Robbert
Yeah, that’s a really good point. Um, you know, we actually get asked this question, a lot of what metrics should I be eating paying attention to. And if you’re asking us off the cuff, we would say, goal conversions. And what users and those are, those are two things that are good, that are a good indication of the health of your marketing efforts. So the users lets, you know, are you driving traffic to your website at all,

you know, so that’s, that’s something that you would probably want to know, you know, you can dig into more detail about what is driving traffic. But first and foremost, you need to know if any traffic is coming to your website. And then the other metric, if you only had to pick two, in my opinion, would be goal conversion. So it assumes that you have goals set up. But these are actions that people take on your website that you have asked them to do. And that means that they’re interested, they’re engaged, they’ve downloaded something, they’ve signed up for something, they’ve purchased something, those goal conversions are one of the best key performance indicators that Google off, excuse me, Google offers, and they’re really straightforward.

Christopher Penn
Yeah, it is, it reminds me of a discussion we had at the end of last year about

academia and, and how you always have to be publishing something new, in order to get attention. No one ever gets credit or degree or, or lauded in a publication for publishing the same old thing. But in reality, when it comes to telling good stories with data and telling stories that matter with data, people want to know the basics people want to know, hey, did people did we get any conversions off the website? Did we get any new people on the website. So really, that that is, to me so important, you’ve got to focus on the basics. First,

Katie Robbert
I agree. And I think that that’s where that term analysis paralysis comes from. Because what ends up happening is, you try to look at all of the different metrics, you try to look at bounce rate, you try to look at, you know, to your point cohort analysis, or attribution analysis, or any other type of analysis that Google Analytics offers. And you’re just looking at this giant pile of data, and you still can’t make sense of it. So I think, for efficiency is really the name of the game, pare it down to one or two metrics that really help you understand, okay, we’re driving traffic to the website, that’s number one. Because without traffic, people aren’t going to fill out stuff, and convert. And then number two, is are they converting?

Yep. And those are the basics that is as basic as you can get within Google Analytics. But those two metrics are so powerful. And it really

Christopher Penn
when you think about what the CEO or the CMO or the board of directors is going to be asking for, they, they asked for the same three things every year, right? better, faster, cheaper, they want stuff better, they want to faster, and they want to spend less money on the more you can simplify and and pare down rather than add stuff to the pile, the easier it is going to be to actually get to better, faster cheaper, because you won’t be spending a million dollars on every tool, you will be taking 20 weeks to pull together one report. And the less interference you have, the better your data quality likely will be. Because again, you’re not trying to manage, you know, seeing people copy and paste 40 columns into a spreadsheet from 20 different sources. And again, probably should do that. So when it comes to to telling people how to tell a an effective data story, like the the concept today, storytelling, what does that mean to you, especially as a CEO?

Katie Robbert
So it’s an that’s a great question. And that’s something that we’re really going to try to focus on in 2019, helping people do better. And so from my perspective, it’s really those deeper insights, it’s more of the why and the, how not so much the what the, what you can take care of, through automation, the what you can take care of, through a tool like Google Data Studio, you can set up that dashboard. And so you don’t have to worry about the what happened, it’s already there for you. And I think that that’s where 90% of marketers spend their time is on the what, what I really care about is why and how, why did that thing happen. And so if you’re not spending all of your time pulling the data, you can really dig in and understand, okay, so we spent $500 on this campaign to convert people and nothing happened, why. So then you have the bandwidth to really dig into was that the audience was at the messaging Was it the offer was that the pricing what however, it was set up, and you can really start to convey that story of here’s what we did here was the outcome. And here’s what we’re going to do about it moving forward, whether we’re going to stay the course. And that’s the piece that getting your metrics set up cleanly and automatically, really going to allow you to do so you’re taking the time to really be thoughtful, and tell the story about each data point.

Christopher Penn
How do you how do you teach people that skill, though, because I mean, the in the past, we said, a lot of it comes through experience, you know, the more gray hair you have, the more likely to as you’ve seen the scenario, and whether or not you dealt with it effectively is a different story. But you’ve at least had that experience. Whereas if you’re under the age of 30, there’s a good chance you’ve not seen some metrics patterns. So how do we teach that to people in a way that scales in a way that helps them to start build the skills of Oh, I, I know what this means, you know, in in the stock market stock trading, some software can do that some basic pattern recognition of that now, but they still need to have an analyst say, Okay, it looks like we’re looking at a, you know, a head and shoulders or a candlestick or whatever,

and that even in the stock industry is still very much gray hair. How do we how do we help people skills faster?

Katie Robbert
Well, you’re not going to like this answer, because it’s very manual. But the the best way to teach somebody is to not give them the answer. So, and what I mean by that is, for example, if an analyst comes to me, and hands me a set of data, I could probably easily figure out what the story is there. But I’m not doing them any favors by telling them the answer. And I think that that’s what ends up happening is managers default to what we’re so busy. Let me just tell you what it says, versus really challenging that person to go back and do the work themselves and really understand, okay, my manager has said, these are the right metrics. But now I need to figure out what it all means. And so it’s really helping them to be more curious, more inquisitive, because you can’t tell the story unless you’re curious about what’s going on. Otherwise, you’re just going to keep copying and pasting and doing the same things over and over again. So as a man manager, your job is to continually challenge and ask questions. Well, why do you think that happened? Even if you already know the answer, don’t give them the answer. point them in the direction that’s going to help them come up with the story themselves. And it’ll it’ll take some time. It’s not an easy thing to teach. But if you don’t put in that foundational work, they’re never really going to learn it. And then they will have gray hair before they figure it out. And that’s, but that’s a lot of wasted time. Yeah, you know, so you have to put in the work to help teach somebody, it’s not something where they can just read a book, or the machine can do it for them. That is a human skill that you can’t replace with machines,

Christopher Penn
yet,

Unknown
eventually,

Katie Robbert
eventually, but there’s always going to be a place for human insight in nuance you were you will always know your customers better than a machine will necessarily know. Or you should, you should, yes, you should understand behaviors and decision making and what drive somebody to do a certain action. Those are the things that you can focus on. And that’s where the story comes from.

Christopher Penn
Because most of the department motor vehicles, which case they don’t care who you are, you’re the customer but they don’t care.

Katie Robbert
Well, there’s always an exception to every

Christopher Penn
exactly it’s usually the DMV.

So wrapping up it we focus on the basics we get to better faster, cheaper by habit, doing less and doing more with less, which will be music to some people’s ears, particularly you know, the higher up in the organization you go in the more p&l responsibility you have, you want to reduce those expenses to the extent you can and finally we figure out how do we teach people to ask better questions. I think one of the top things that every organization should be looking at is who is your chief questions officer in your company, and if you don’t have one, this might be a good time to start. So So speaking of which makes sure that you’re subscribed to the instruction sets a YouTube channel on the newsletter over at trust insights.ai and Happy New Year. Happy 2019.

Thank you for listening to me your insights, the trust insights podcast, please ask her co worker or colleague to follow our show on Google podcasts. Apple podcast wherever you listen to your shows. Got a question like us to answer Watson help solving your data and analytics challenges visit us at www dot trust insights.ai today.


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