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Hi! How are you going today?
Today I thought I’d share with you how I ended up specialising in e-commerce analytics.
I had a 10-year career as a corporate computer programmer and was working at a defence base about an hour drive from my home. I was also pregnant with my second child at the time and because I was in a top secret building we couldn’t have a mobile phone with us.
The travel plus not being able to easily take phone calls was not instilling me with confidence regarding my post-baby return to work. Plus I secretly just wanted out anyway.
I almost started a completely different business actually!
One day during a boardroom meeting about automated analytics I started daydreaming about applying analytics to facebook traffic for my hatchling small business which was going to be about meal planning. I wondered how that would benefit other smaller businesses if they had access to a person who could read their data and tell them the secrets behind it. That was my “Eureka!” moment because I had the skills to do that.
So I changed course and decided to start an analytics agency instead!
It was a little bit daunting because being a software developer in the defence industry I was used to having a hundred thousand dollar salary and I really did not want to work really long hours since I had a small child already and another on the way… but, well my entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and I just had to do it.
I wanted to improve my lifestyle rather than the nine-to-five drudgery thing that you never quite get used to as an employee.
(OK, so I discovered that self employment is more like nine-to-nine but at least there is much less drudgery).
I was really excited but then when I started actually trading I felt kind of embarrassed, maybe imposter syndrome is the correct term. I was new in business and I was bit of scared of charging what I was worth.
Also, it turns out that custom analytics can be rather time consuming and I was a bit scared of charging for my time when things were more complicated than I expected (which happened often – damn Google Analytics!!). I didn’t want anyone to feel like they weren’t getting a good return of investment from working with me. I wanted them to make a lot more money than they spent on my services.
Unfortunately I quickly hit the wall because I was not really charging enough. I tried to make up for it by working with anyone who so much as sneezed in my direction!
I was working with lots of different clients. I was working with clients in retail, health, hotels, corporate, marketing agencies and local lead generation businesses. As I was doing all this I came to realise that each kind of website or each tool that is using in the website require completely different analytics setup, completely different reports, and a lot of custom analytics needed to be set up for each one. It was really becoming a problem because essentially I was just spending all of my time trying to customize everything and it was too labour-intensive for the budgets that prospects were willing to pay.
But what I especially noticed, and this is how I ended up getting into the e-commerce analytics as my primary specialization, essentially out of the box Google Analytics was really useless for e-commerce businesses.
They just weren’t getting the value that they should have been getting out of Google Analytics. Which is such a shame, because they should have been getting the most value due to their high traffic volumes.
Essentially ecommerce fell into one of two buckets. Either their analytics was set up with “out of the box” settings, which really doesn’t work well for ecommerce, or the businesses were a bit savvier and had done things with their Google Analytics or Tag Manager but they had got themselves into a really convoluted mess. In these cases there were usually so many problems with their setup that trying to fix it all would turn into a big game of whack-a-mole.
I was working very long hours trying to get these e-commerce projects working and I wasn’t really charging for all of my time spent. I clocked it as “R&D” (aka, what the f%^k, I don’t think I can bill my client while I’m working this out).
After about a year and a half of working in this business I realized that my take-home income was essentially about what I paid for childcare!
So I could have just left ecommerce businesses there and then, but the drawcard was I could see that they were getting the most value from my services due to their high traffic volumes.
When we actually got an ecommerce business’ analytics fixed up they were able to zoom zoom and start making money from it straight away.
Also since my ecommerce clients were having so many dramas with their digital marketing, websites and analytics it really made me realize just how much ecommerce clients needed good advice. I chatted with other colleagues in the industry, and they all agreed that ecommerce ends up being the most complicated scenarios and sometimes their profit margins can be so tight, but they really need the services.
So even though I was putting so much time into R&D (i.e. free work) I was making a difference to my clients and that made a difference to me.
I’ve spent hundreds, probably thousands of hours of unbillable time just trying to work out the ins and outs of Enhanced Ecommerce and being able to track things that were actually meaningful to ecommerce clients and their marketing agencies.
On that topic, it’s usually the marketing agency that ends up working with me first because they are also struggling with their ecommerce clients data! They are out looking for a solution and stumble across me.
I was in a bind. I felt that I had strong reasons to work primarily with ecommerce clients and their agencies to deal with the awful data situation that was happening in these businesses but at the same time I had to do so in an efficient way.
So what I worked out was essentially I could develop some unique systems, templates and reports that would do the heavy lifting for me.
These templatized reports would essentially pinpoint exactly where an ecommerce business is losing money, who their most profitable audiences are, and which sales funnels are effective. The idea was to have everything based on templates and systematized so that it didn’t take as long as it had in the past to create a report. We would know exactly what the prerequisites were for each report and so we wouldn’t need to waste time setting things up that weren’t being used yet. And we could pretty much guarantee with these reports that they would uncover ways of making more money for an ecommerce client and where to focus next.
We were still running into issues of technical complexity, but over time specialising in ecommerce, I started seeing more and more similarities between problems and they could be resolved faster.
I decided I would develop a whole series of unique processes that would walk through step-by-step exactly how to set up analytics and create these reports for ecommerce clients.
While I won’t lie and say that coming up with the systems was easy, using systems I could complete the work faster and get help from less expensive labour. This both reduced costs for the ecommerce businesses and also resulted in a consistent quality of reports so I was able to give assurance of value.
Maybe you’re wondering how I created these systems in the first place?
The more that I worked with ecommerce clients the more insights I started to get about what they needed from their data, but I didn’t have time to write down the system.
It was all just in my head and I had no idea how to write it all down! So what I started doing is I just recorded lots and lots of videos of me doing the work and then I hired a virtual assistant.
My virtual assistant literally transcribed all of my videos into very detailed step-by-step procedures that would work every time. It cost me about twenty thousand dollars of my own revenue.
(I was only taking home about twenty thousand dollars at the time so that was a big deal).
It was worth every penny! We’ve now been able to turn what I had in my head into procedures that really work. We’ve refined them and we use the same procedures over and over again.
I’ve really stuck at it and we have now got quite a lot of these documented procedures. Already we’ve documented about 250 separate analytics procedures and the list is still growing. I’ve got about a thousand videos still ready to be transcribed and turned into procedures, but the core system is covered now.
And the more I could do for clients the more clients kept coming. I had got to the point where I’d have a waiting list for people to for me to set up the analytics but now that we have so many documented procedures we do have a real agency, not just a single entrepreneur with a tech background trying to run as fast as she can 🙂
Over the last two years I’ve ended up working up with more than a hundred businesses just purely on their Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager and now we’ve branched into Google Ads as well.
I can pretty much solve any issue now with web analytics after so much experience, and I’m happy to guarantee that our reports will find useful opportunities that will make the ecommerce owner a lot more money than he or she invested in the report.
One client that I worked with recently got eight times more revenues from Google Ads after using my services and to be honest that was just from one Audience Engagement Report. This is a new report I am selling that identifies what kinds of audiences they should be targeting.
Another client increased conversions rates by 26% after just one analytics review.
Another client who was having a terrible trouble working out where their conversion issues were stemming from was able to identify a particular element on their website that was causing people to leave.
Another another client was able to find particular search terms that were causing clients to leave and so they’re able to fix it.
Yet other clients are finally able to see which campaigns are resulting in sales. Before they had no way of pinpointing where their sales were coming from so they just tried stuff and hoped for the best.
I’ve started working with high calibre e-commerce clients internationally. I’m a specialist in Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager and Google Data Studio and I’ve become the go-to expert for several marketing agencies. Even some agencies who have an internal analytics team will seek me out for specialist areas specially because being a software developer in the past I’m able to do custom programming for Google Tag Manager that their own resource might not be able to do.
I’m at the point now where I’m starting to launch products using the templates and systems that I produced.
This is the beginning of a series of videos in which I’ll be going through different things that I have learned over that time, and continuing to learn, so if you’re interested in using analytics to get more income from your website or if you’re a marketing agency that works with ecommerce clients I would definitely recommend just staying in touch and just following what I have to share.
Thanks for reading right through my story. I’d love to hear your story too! Why not drop me a line and tell me about your experience.
Have a great day!