The biggest challenge you have isn’t a lack of data. It’s which data you need to pay attention to. You have different sets of data, and you need to make business decisions, fast.
They conflict with each other, so it’s hard to trust any of them. When was this data collected? What tools were used to collect this data? What settings were used, and how was it processed?
And if you or your team can’t trust the data you have from different sources, it’s difficult to agree on what objectives you need to pursue to move the needle for the company.
As former Head of Digital at BigCommerce, I’ve been there, and I know how hard it is to align different departments on a single source of data.
How do you convince everyone on the team to rely on and trust one source of data? How do you create a consistent data collection and sharing process to ensure everyone is on the same page?
Read on to find out how to go about aligning an entire company on a single source of truth to improve your performance.
1. Create a Multi-Department Data Team
Each team in the company is as good as the quality of data they have. If you want to improve their performance, get a representative from operations, customer success, sales, marketing, product, finance, and any other relevant department. I like calling them “data champions”.
Drawing these people from each department allows them to know and understand what is going on in other departments. With this knowledge, it’s easier for them to agree on relevant objectives that they need to pursue to improve the customer’s experience on each stage of the journey.
If you don’t have at least one data expert from each team, don’t worry — select people based on their attitude and willingness to learn about data. Overtime (and through training), they will acquire the skills they need to make meaningful contributions to the data team.
2. Marketing and Sales Leaders Must Agree on Top KPIs
Once you create your data team, use a calendar tool like Woven to schedule a multi-department team meeting that fits everyone’s schedule. During this meeting, agree on the KPIs that you need to track.
As Sujan Patel from Mailshake points out, you need two types of KPIs: process-based and outcome-based KPIs. These KPIs give you a clear picture of the actions that contribute to specific results so that you focus on them to get more results. And if you’re getting started with aligning data to a single source of truth, start by creating KPIs in any of the following departments:
Take marketing, for instance. You have your SEO specialists who perform keyword research, email marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, and PPC efforts, which you need to track the amount of traffic they each drive to your site:
If you start a podcast to increase your reach and build brand awareness, a process-based KPIs should be the type of topics you discuss during the show. Topics might range from talking about customer pain points so sales can leverage that in customer conversations, sharing customer case studies, and interviewing industry experts.
For example, let’s say you’re a VPN company like IPVanish… You could start a podcast about all the best VPN reviews, data protection tips, or even interviewing cybersecurity experts.
An outcome-based KPI should be the number of listeners you have, the amount of traffic you get from your podcast, and the number of leads and sales you get from this traffic. Essentially, you can think of podcasts as an additional lead generation tool.
The KPIs you decide to set and the metrics you will track should be unique to your business, and everyone on the data team must agree on top KPIs to follow.
Keep in mind that these KPIs will change over time as your business grows, so don’t get caught up worrying about tracking metrics that everyone else isn’t tracking. So, looking at your situation, which is the most important metric to track?
For SaaS companies, the main metrics to focus on are typically monthly recurring revenue (MRR) by traffic source.
The team also needs to agree on the type of attribution you will use that is relevant to your needs, whether first click or last click attribution. You can also schedule emails that integrate into G-Suite to share data daily or weekly so that marketing and sales can collaborate on it for a single source of truth.
You can even generate custom QR codes to include in your internal emails and correspondence so team members have easy access to important reports and documents on the go.
3. Implement Tools and Dashboards
Once you have agreed on the KPIs that you need to track, choose a software that integrates with other tools that you’re already using, such as Google PPC ads, Google Analytics, and your choice of CRM software.
Basically, you can start by creating initial dashboards and visualizations to give everyone a bird’s eye view of how different marketing initiatives are performing.
For instance, in customer support, you need to be objective when evaluating the quality of support you’re delivering. So the essential data to feed into the dashboard should be:
Quality of service – The impact of your service on customers through the reviews you get and your customer retention rate
Performance – the amount of time it takes to solve a customer’s issue
Productivity – How much work each customer service rep does e.g.: number of tickets closed per day
The data you enter should be consistent and accurate to help you identify areas where you need to improve on to deliver better customer experiences.
Your dashboard should also be easy to use so that it enhances productivity by reducing the time it takes to access data and derives actionable insights from it.
So, schedule another meeting to discuss any changes or concerns your data champions have. These concerns might range from the type of data you enter into the dashboards, the types of charts they want to see, and the features they want to use to customize their views.
As you implement your dashboard, you’ll find out new things concerning the data you already have that will challenge the assumptions you have held for a while. For example, you might have assumed that you’re offering the best customer support in your industry and that your customer relations reps have outstanding emotional intelligence…
However, the data you get tells you that while you’re resolving lots of customer issues quickly, most of your customers remain stuck, and your customer retention rates are lower than what you’d expect.
So you’re going to fix that by focusing on quality over quantity. Ask relevant questions in your customer satisfaction survey and provide relevant content such as video tutorials for customers to solve their issues.
For more on this and automating your KPI tracking, check out my in-depth guide to marketing automation tools for streamlining your marketing efforts and workflows.
4. Meet Regularly With the Data Team to Make Data-Driven Decisions
Marketing Ads ROI & Customer Lifetime Value tracking
Marketing teams must defend the decisions they make when it comes to the strategies they use to attract new clients. For example, they can use the dashboard to justify their paid acquisition strategies such as video ads.
For instance, given that businesses have increased the amount of money they spend on video ads by 95%, these meetings provide the marketing team with an opportunity to talk about what they have achieved and how other departments can come in to complement their efforts.
If you are working with an agency where you outsource or resell your SEO and PPC, meet with them often to discuss KPIs and data.
I highly recommend using some sort of collaboration tool like Monday.com to collaborate and manage projects and deadlines with any agencies or contractors you may be using:
Customers Reviews Monitoring for the Support, Product and Marketing teams
On the other hand, customer support might share customer ratings on their dashboard, prompting the team to dig deeper to read what customers are saying.
Take a look at this review from Zoma Sleep Mattresses:
These reviews help the product team know the areas they need to improve on, which, in this case, will be creating more sports mattresses. For the marketing team, this feedback will help them write better sales copy in their ads and marketing emails.
5. Run Effective C-Suite and Stakeholder Meetings to Discuss Data
There’s very little the executive team can do to help you if they only look at data whenever you exceed your budget or fail to meet sales and revenue goals.
You’ll need to have meetings often to bring them up to speed on what’s going on so that they provide the necessary guidance and avoid surprises in case things go wrong. And since you’ve created a single source of truth for all your company data, it’s now easier for you to show what everyone is doing and how it is affecting the company’s growth.
Once you schedule a meeting with the C-suite and other stakeholders, the data team should meet beforehand and prepare a presentation with consistent data among different teams. The goal of this meeting is to make sure that the data you’re presenting is consistent and from the same source.
Prepare talking points for each team and focus on the bottom line. For marketing, it could be the number of leads you’ve generated, sales closed, and total revenue. For customer service, it could be the customer retention rate, customer lifetime value, and customer feedback. Make sure at least one person knows how to explain complex information in an easy to digest way.
Everything starts with data, and how competitive you are in your niche will be determined by the data you have and how well you use it. The easier it is to access it, and the faster you derive insights from it means that you will be able to catch on trends in the marketplace that keep you ahead of everyone else.
Teams need to be aligned to a single source of truth to make sure that everyone is working towards the same objectives. If this doesn’t happen, C-Suite will get confused, business decisions will be wrong, and teams will be combative, meaning that the company won’t perform as expected.