The Art of Selling Online Courses

Decoding the Data Language - with Julian Jünemann

October 11, 2023 John Ainsworth Season 1 Episode 107
The Art of Selling Online Courses
Decoding the Data Language - with Julian Jünemann
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Imagine navigating the captivating world of data-driven marketing alongside Julian Jünemann, founder of Measure School, whose expertise in the industry is nothing short of stupendous. Julian, through his exceptional journey across various startups and his laudable efforts as the creator of the Measure School YouTube channel, paves the path for businesses to embrace a data-driven approach. Our conversation delves into the transformative features of the internet that allow us to track our performance, optimize our business, and truly appreciate the wealth of information available to us.

Our dialogue ventures into the territory of data tracking for informed decision-making, especially beneficial for online course creators. Together, Julian and I emphasize the indispensable importance of tracking data, helping you discern the effective from the ineffective aspects of your business. Ignoring a data-driven approach can lead to pitfalls, we argue, and share insights on the specific data points that course creators should monitor for a comprehensive understanding of their enterprise.

In the latter part of our discussion, we focus on distinguishing between leading and lagging indicators. We advise on the frequency of data review and touch upon the intriguing potential of AI in the data space. Julian gives a detailed run-through of the pros and cons of various web analytics tools, including Google Analytics, Fathom, and PIVX Pro. This episode is an absolute treasure trove, offering valuable insights into collecting the right kind of data to steer your business towards success!

Speaker 1:

Every tool out there can interpret or track metrics differently, like what is actually a page view might be different in one or the other tools, depending on how they actually count this or what is a user. This is up to interpretation and Google Analytics gives you a set of interpretations that is more common because everybody is using that kind of tool and can compare it.

Speaker 2:

Hello and welcome to the art of selling online courses. We're here to share winning strategies and secret hacks from top performers in the online course industry. My name is John Ainsworth and today's guest is Julian Juneman. Julian is the founder of Measure School, which eventually grew into a tight knit team of seven. He learned the ropes of digital marketing through different startups that he co-founded, and he quickly became fascinated with the data driven nature of this world. After launching his consultancy, jj Analytics in 2013, he began assisting other businesses in adopting the data driven approach to digital marketing, and in 2015, he launched the Measure School YouTube channel to connect and educate others about this new marketing methodology. It's got over 150,000 subscribers and Measure Schools become the primary video source for many marketers who are seeking to learn these data driven techniques. In his spare time, he also enjoys playing the guitar, watching YouTube and tinkering around in JavaScript.

Speaker 2:

Now, one of the reasons I'd asked Julian to come on today is because, if you look at the headline on Measure School's website, it's fast track your digital marketing journey the data driven ways. It's all based around data and, as you probably know, my business is called data driven marketing, so we're very much on the same page here. So today we're going to be talking about running your business, the data driven way, why that matters, what can go wrong if you don't do that, what data you should collect, track and the basics and some specific tips and tactics as well. But before we get into that, I've got a quick question for you before we start with today's episode. Do you hate this podcast, or do you find the sound of my voice annoying? Or do you think our guests are offensive? Because if you do and you want me to read your hate mail live on air, leave it in a five star review, because on some of the episodes I'm going to close this show by reading out our most recent five star reviews.

Speaker 2:

So if you want to bash the show, you want to leave your hateful critique in a five star review and maybe I'll read it live. You know what? If you love the show, are we happy to read those reviews as well. Or if you want to recommend the guests we should have on for an interview, leave your suggestion in a five star review too. That way, I'll be sure to see it and then we can discuss your recommendations, suggestions or misplaced ire towards the show live during the episodes. Sound good, great Julian. Welcome to the show man. Thank you, john, for having me. So let's kick it off with why is this matter? Why is it important to have a data driven approach to marketing?

Speaker 1:

Well, let's talk about gratitude a little bit. If you think about small businesses before the internet came along, how would they actually know how to improve their business? Right, they could get a business coach or some consultancy or something to to know an outside perspective. But what we have in the internet world, and especially in online courses as well, is that we actually have data to backup our actions and see if something is performing well or not, and we can do this with a little bit of a JavaScript code, a little bit of code onto your website that provides data to tools like Google Analytics and you can actually see if something is improving or is declining and you can take action on that data. So it's so important that we utilize this data actually and be grateful that we have this data available, and if you are not looking at that data from time to time, then you're really doing your business at the service and probably your users as well, because it won't be able to optimize your website accordingly.

Speaker 2:

So what I was hearing there was that it's important to because it, because it allows you to know where your business is doing well and where it's doing badly, so you know where to focus your efforts. Is that right? Yeah, correct.

Speaker 1:

One of the aspects.

Speaker 2:

One of the things that I find like I do analysis for people and I talk them through. There's three reasons why we're going to do this. It's to find out what's got better so we can do more of that thing. What's doing well, what's improving, so we can do more of it. Also, to find out what's got worse.

Speaker 2:

Sometimes something will break in your business. If you're not tracking the data, you don't even realize it. I've known people who've gone a year and a half. They broke one thing in their business, didn't realize that's what it was. They thought it was something else and if they just tracked the process, then they would have known exactly what it was. That got worse. So painful to say it's awful. And then, thirdly, is to figure out what areas in your business are most underperforming. Let's say everything is steady, it's all at a level. But if you know benchmark opt-ins for a landing page is 30 to 40% and yours is at 15%, you'd be like, oh, that needs work, I should do more about that. It'll have a big impact. But if yours is currently at 35%, it's like, don't, probably, don't bother that much about it. There's probably other areas in the business you can work on. So that's my approach to it. How do you think about it? Is there any other ways that you look at it in terms of why you track that data?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, in the end, businesses are all about decision making. At some point you need to make a decision to move in one or the other direction, and obviously we all want to have a little bit of certainty or have somebody that gives us advice and go into this direction or that direction. And data can exactly help you to figure that thing out, because what we have available with the internet, with our tools, is the underlying database to know if something is working, something is not working, and move forward from that point. And really what the great thing is about enabling people through data is that they can take more decisions and hopefully move their business further along, faster and stop things doing things that are not worth it. And that's why I think you're right on point there. For me, it's all about decision making. In the end, we want people who have the data to make decisions.

Speaker 2:

On the flip side, what's the biggest problems you see people run into? If they don't take a data-driven approach, they go. I don't like data, I didn't like math at school, I don't like spreadsheets, I don't want to look at it. What are some of the things that come up for people if they think that way?

Speaker 1:

Well, this will get you so far. If you are a artist, for example, you don't know if people like your music. You just create and create. I think that that is a fine approach if you have good taste, but not, the failure rate is pretty high. So what we have with data is at least a little bit of feedback mechanism. Even though nobody is maybe in front of the computer and telling you, or in an interview, telling you this is what I like, you can read it from the data and you can get an indication of going left or right.

Speaker 1:

Now, yeah, the biggest problem I see if people are not looking at data, then it's not a very clear direction. It is maybe one CEO saying, hey, we are going this direction because I believe in it. This can work out fine, but more often than not it's a shot in the dark and it doesn't turn out that well. So really looking at your data is really for me, for an online business owner, it's something that they need to do in order to give them the best shot of succeeding in whatever they're looking to do.

Speaker 2:

What kind of data do you think people should be gathering? Obviously, the audience here is online course creators, but we could start broader if that's easier. Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 1:

So we specialize in online tracking, making sure that we have the data available for an online business to be able to be successful and it really depends on the business model itself and what people are working towards. So a SaaS business would be completely different from an e-commerce business, from an online course creator. Now, if we take online course creations as an example here, then definitely the first data point you should know about is how many users do I actually have on my website, how many users or customers did I convert and how much sales did I make through that right? So these three basic metrics is something that every course creator should know and, yeah, I guess you also have some experience with that. Some people just don't know off the top of their head how much revenue they have made last month because they don't really track the numbers too closely, and that's a flawlessly in my mind, because this is something you don't know if it's going up or down in your business. And people who are a little bit more obsessed, like me, they probably have their online tools open or their dashboards open and they can quickly tell you OK, this day was good, this month was good and know if the actions that they are taking or the actions that I took two weeks ago are actually working or not, and this can go into much, much more detail.

Speaker 1:

As you know, user come to your website. They do all kinds of things on the website that go through your funnel. They opt into your email list. All of these numbers can be tracked and then you can get an even clearer and clearer picture, and I always compare it with a map. At the beginning, you probably don't know where you actually are when you look at a map and everything is confusing. Numbers do that to you. But the more and more questions you ask and the more and more numbers you gather for that specific use case that you have and have a clearer view on your numbers, the clearer and clearer it gets where you need to go and what are the next actions. So something that I often tell people is to start out with the basics and then dig yourself deeper into the actual things that you are interested in and take some decisions on that data.

Speaker 2:

I'll say what we consider as like the basics for course creators, because the way that course creator business model works is that most of the money comes from email marketing. Now, that's only true if you do email marketing, but if you do it, then that's the biggest potential in most people's business. So the problem we tend to see is most online course creators do an email promotion one, two, maybe three times a year. They do Black Friday, they might do their birthday or Independence Day or something kind of like that, but that's about it. They don't do very often, and if you track the data in terms of revenue month by month, you will see a big spike in those months when they did email promotions.

Speaker 2:

So the things that we recommend to everybody to track are number of visitors to whatever it is your YouTube channel or your website, wherever you get the majority of your traffic, and then how many of them got onto your email list. So what is your opt-in percentage? Where's that at at the moment? And then from email every month, to track how many for the email promotions you sent, how many emails were opened, how many links were clicked, how many people then went to the sales page, how many got to the checkout page and how many bought and like that's the crucial thing Like website visitors, email subscribers, emails opened, clicked, sales page seen, checkout page seen, bought. If you track all of those things as the starting point, then you're like way ahead of where most people are at and so I think I listed like six things there.

Speaker 2:

It's not a massive number, is it?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think there are more numbers that you could get into if you wanted to know, but again, I wouldn't overcomplicate it. And just look at the basics and these are really good numbers or KPIs that you could start tracking and then just look at them on a regular basis so you'll be able to actually spot any kind of trends. Right, is it going up, is it going down? And maybe you can hypothesize about why this went up or down.

Speaker 2:

You mentioned in there dashboards. Is that something you recommend for people when they're starting out?

Speaker 1:

I actually if they're starting out. No, I think a dashboard is always something that people drive to get, and there are a lot of dashboarding tools. It is definitely something that I think can be very useful if you work in a corporation and there's actually somebody who creates that dashboard for you. The dashboard can also be just an Excel file or Google sheet where you have your numbers in there and you will be able to just go back a row and see what happened last week or the months before. So it doesn't have to be always so flashy of these dashboards that you have out there.

Speaker 1:

There are softwares out there where you can copy paste or copy just a template and then connect it to your data, but it's kind of if you haven't built it yourself, then do you actually trust the data?

Speaker 1:

Do you know that everything is piped through correctly, and so on. So I tend to think that dashboards, at least for beginners, is a little yeah, it's a little bit distracting, because you have all of these different charts and it's really about asking yourself questions. So a dashboard can do this. Dashboard is really a visualizations of your data. So if you need to convince somebody with that data, if you go to the CEO and say, look at this chart, we should take this in this action. He might be convinced by that and then you might need a more powerful tool. But if the data is just for you, for your online business, then you might just want to take a Google sheet because it's easier to fill out and you can have total control over these numbers, can leave a comment in that cell saying, hey, I did this email promotion, that's why it's so high, and so it can be a little bit more actionable, I think, and it makes it easier to consume because everybody kind of knows how to operate a spreadsheet.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's like I think that's one of the crucial things, isn't it? It's like you could spend ages this is from personal experience. You can spend ages trying to set up this perfect dashboard and make it look beautiful and automatically pull data in all these different places, and then it turns out you're tracking the wrong things and it's like, oh bloody. It seems to me like start the spreadsheet, because it's quick and easy, and if you need to change it, it's just. You just add a different row, or you take a row out, or you do whatever it is you need to do, and then maybe at some point, you get to the stage where you have fancy, clever dashboards like it sounds like you've got them right for your business.

Speaker 1:

Well, for our clients, we built them. Yes, in the end, the test that you can always run is like does this inspire action or does this inspire the next question that I should ask my data Right, so why is this data going up? Why is this going down? Now, if you look at your pretty dashboard and it's like, oh, everything is fine, is it? Can you actually read that data and say, hey, I know what is happening here and we should take that action? Or we should ask that question to the person who handles that data. So a spreadsheet in most cases, is a little bit more actionable.

Speaker 2:

Can you explain to the listener the difference between leading and lagging indicators?

Speaker 1:

Okay, I mean with metrics that you track. The question is, well, does this actually well, the action that we are seeing right here, or why this is going up or down, and you see a trend inside of the data. You might want to hypothesize or take an action upon that data and does this indicator, this metric that you are seeing, is this a leading indicator? So if this is going up, another metric will also go up or down? Or is this a lagging indicator? So if this metric or another metric is going up or down, this metric will follow right? So leading and lagging that's kind of the thing. We try to introduce these kind of ways of thinking in more advanced users that actually look at the numbers in depth. But yeah, it's not something that I would say beginners need to concern themselves and see like, is this going up or down? You will notice that in your trends after a few months of looking at the data what is actually following, what is lagging, what is leading your metrics?

Speaker 2:

Nice, how often would you suggest people, the course creators, go in and look at their data? Is it like a thing once a week? Is it once a month, like how? How should people think about this?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think that to start out once a week is really good. It's all about putting that data together. Sometimes you don't have the automated mechanisms of pulling that data together. Now, if you have time and you want to sit down every day for half an hour and put this in, then I think it's a very micro view on your data and you might not get too much out of it, because the variance can be very, very high, right? So one day you have a hundred more users, 50 less users.

Speaker 1:

But in order to see the trends, if you do it on a weekly basis or on a monthly basis, the cool thing is, if you take it on a weekly basis, you can just add up the last four weeks and then put it together in your monthly reporting and then you will be able to see the indicators on a monthly basis. So your work is not lost in that sense. So you could do it on a daily basis. But, yeah, I don't think that it is always too to say like analysis, paralysis.

Speaker 1:

In the end, right, if you're doing too much data, maybe you don't take action on it. So you want to keep the balance here and if you have more people involved, then you might need to look at it on a more frequent basis. It also depends on your business, right? So if you are doing new online courses every day or you have some kind of live shopping going on, so, for example, if you are on QVC or on some kind of live platform, then you want to look at it on a minute by minute basis how many people are coming in and out but this is not useful for somebody who maybe launches a course every month. Or we launch something every month or does a live launch, then this might be on a monthly basis would be enough, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Is there any use for AI in this space, or is that like a massive distraction for everybody?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think AI is definitely the future of data analysis. We have already seen that our space has been more disrupted by it than, let's say, offline businesses, for example, because we have so much data available, right? So if you look at the PPC market Google ads they have introduced and reintroduced multiple features where the machine is taking over more and more of the ads manager's job, and that is fine as long as you are able to still steer the machine to get the desired results and hasn't taken over completely yet. So nobody needs to do anything and everybody gets wonderful results. Otherwise, we would be all millionaires, probably with just letting Google ads running.

Speaker 1:

So the data space is definitely disrupted by it and but it's not there yet. Even in Google analytics we have some predictive metrics, we have some information about who's going to churn, for example, so churn probability and so on, but it's not yet there where all data analysis is taken over. The big problem that we see is that data is, in the end, private, right? So it's in your Google analytics. Can you send it over to something like chat GPT? Let chat GPT read all your data and then the next person who uses chat GPT, it learned from your data set and says, yeah, you should be doing this on your landing page or that.

Speaker 1:

So a lot of people are still on and a lot of bigger organizations are still very hesitant to upload their data and some kind of AI to. But I must say that all the manual tasks that a data analyst does, like cleaning the data, pulling everything together that's definitely something that the AI in the future will be capable of taking over. The question is if you let it and then it will become one of the big helpers in this industry. That said, I would be very, very hesitant to use any kind of tool where it says, hey, this is an AI tool and it just shows you the correct data, because who determines what is correct? There is more and more black box inside of these tools and you don't know how the data was actually pulled and where it was attributed and so on, which is more and more of a problem there. But yeah, the AI is coming and we better get ready first.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, ai is coming. What kind of tools do you recommend? For most people? Let's say let's give a hypothetical example Someone all of their traffic is through the website. They're not got YouTube or podcast or Instagram or anything like that. It's coming in through a mixture of SEO and from direct traffic referrals and they have got a couple of courses that they sell through, they have uploaded on like Teachable and they've got an email marketing system like Active Campaign where they send out the email promotions from. For that kind of person, what kind of tools do they need in order to collect the right kind of data?

Speaker 1:

That's a good question. First of all, you already mentioned some tools that already gather data. Right, you can get your revenue, your sales stats, from Teachable. You would be able to get your opt-in rates or not the rate, but you would get the subscribers and how many people clicked on your emails and so on from Active Campaign, open rates and so on. But you need to have a tool that is actually installed on your website itself.

Speaker 1:

Now, previously, google Analytics was the easy, recommendable tool, as it's free and it has a lot of capabilities that 99% of users are not using because it's actually an enterprise tool. But they brought it to the lower market because they want to hook everybody on Google and it's a great, great choice. Still, with the switchover to GA4, which is now being discussed everywhere, it's still a great tool if you have Google Ads running, because it will give you the best data from your Google Ads. So, if you don't use Google Ads, you might want to consider some alternatives. There are alternatives out there. Especially if you are based in Europe, you might want to look for a privacy focused alternative that lets you do the tracking without being a big, big target on their back. So, let's say, if I wanted to sue somebody for privacy infringement, I would look for Google Analytics on their website. There are tools out there that will help you to track your users in a privacy safe manner, and these tools often require a little bit of budget.

Speaker 1:

So there is not many tools for free anymore, unless you want to build something, which is also now possible. But you could look for other tools If you want to keep it very, very simple. I have heard really cool things about Fathom, so that might be an alternative. There is not free, but very small lightweight If you just want to look at the basic numbers. If you want to dig deeper into data, then you might want to go with a real GA4 alternative, like a PIVX Pro or a Matomo, where you get way more data.

Speaker 1:

But obviously, if you spend money, you want to get something out of it and therefore you need to be already quite seriously into the whole digital analytics realm and maybe even have somebody there that can operate the tool to get the value out of it that you deserve, because you don't want to spend money on a tool and then say I hardly ever use it and then I would definitely look into other tools that you might have available, so a lot of people pipe their website through something like Cloudflare. Cloudflare gives you data. You can also look at the data from your hoster. Sometimes they give you some web analytics data, but when it comes to really marketing analytics, where are my users coming from? Are they converting? You might need to have some kind of Google Analytics installed or an alternative to it, which nowadays is mostly paid still.

Speaker 2:

Okay, so revenue and sales you get from Teachable in this situation, or Kajabi or whatever else you're using. The email opens, it clicks. What have you? You're getting from Active Campaign and the website traffic. So where is traffic coming from in the first place to get to your site? And then how is that converting into people getting into your email list or sales Is gonna be Google Analytics or one of these alternatives that you mentioned.

Speaker 1:

Correct, I mean.

Speaker 2:

The most of which cost a little bit of money. So you're gonna have to decide. You're willing to spend that. If you don't spend that, you might have to spend more time learning Google Analytics, which is a bit harder. Is that right? Did I understand that right? A?

Speaker 1:

little bit harder. Yeah, I mean we have one of the resources out there that you can watch a video and get the hang of it pretty quickly. I would also say a Google Analytics is just the industry standard still. So if you ever wanted to sell your business or compare your business to another website, then this is kind of the non plus ultra, because everybody, every tool out there, can interpret or track metrics differently, like what is actually a page view might be different in one or the other tools depending on how they actually count this or what is a user. This is up to interpretation and Google Analytics gives you a set of interpretations that is more common because everybody is using that kind of tool and can compare it. And if you ever wanted to sell, I think your investor would appreciate if you had a run in Google Analytics on your website, because he knows what they would be doing.

Speaker 2:

Okay, so even if you install something else, make sure you've also got Google Analytics in there permanently, because it's like that's just the industry standard.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, currently still true.

Speaker 2:

Okay, now you mentioned there people wanna learn more about any of these tools, like how to use GA4 or something like that. They can go and learn from some of the resources you provide. What are some of the ways people can learn that You've got a YouTube channel right?

Speaker 1:

Correct. We have one of the bigger YouTube channels around, specifically the tools Google Analytics, google Tag Manager, which is a tool to implement tracking, and then Data Studio, which is a dashboarding software from Google, provided from Google, because we believe that you should install the tracking correctly on your website so you get the right metrics. Then you should be able to analyze it inside of GA4 and operate that tool correctly. But then also, if you wanna convince with the data somebody, you might need to visualize it and pull everything together into Data Studio and well, looker Studio.

Speaker 1:

It's actually now called they changed the name last year so Looker Studio is the tool for the dashboarding and with Looker Studio, you can actually pull in data not only from Google Analytics but also, for example, from your active campaign or other solutions like Teachable. So as long as you have that data connection, you can pull that data in, and this is like the winning combination for us. Obviously, you can switch out tools however you want, but I think everybody should go from gathering the data correctly to actually inspiring action in somebody or in yourself, and one is our YouTube channel where you can learn everything. We have a great blog on our website, measureschoolcom, where you can also see a lot of more information there, and we run a membership called Measure Masters, where we teach professional marketers to use these tools effectively as well.

Speaker 2:

Nice and I know I said this back at the beginning, but Julian's like the go-to guy about this. It's like when I think I was learning I don't know how many years ago about different things in Google Analytics and I was going through YouTube and I was like, oh, these videos are great. And then I met him at a conference and we hung out and I was just like, oh, I know you and everybody, like guys on my team who they're learning about some of these things they've gone through either some of his paid training or the YouTube videos. So this is like this is the place to go. So if you want to go and actually learn about implementing any of this, then go to measureschoolcom and you can sign up for Measure Masters. It's like it's very much the best place to go to. And if you don't want to spend money on it, obviously they've got YouTube videos which are free, but the paid staffs can obviously be better. Thanks, you've also got a summit coming up. Can you tell everybody about that?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely so. Me and my friend Mercer is running a summit every year since three years now, and this is where we get the minds of measurement, of analytics and data together and do a live conference, so to say, in October. This year in October, october 13th, it's going to start and you'll be able to just see really great speakers there going through and telling us all the news things around Google Analytics for AI, privacy and so on. So if you're interested in that data world, check it out at measuresummitcom and this is all free to attend. It's a virtual conference so you can sit there and watch it from the comfort of your home. And, yeah, this is something we try to get the community together every year, which is this time happening in October.

Speaker 2:

Nice. How many people attend that? Also kind of sizes in the summit.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we have over 10,000 registrants every year. Wow, that's great. The live thing is a few people less that are actually attending it then live and we also provide then later on the video recordings if you buy the all access pass. We call it.

Speaker 2:

Nice Julian. Thanks so much for coming on today. That's been super helpful. I know our listeners will find that really useful and just a reminder for everybody that's measureschoolcom, or search for measureschool on YouTube, or what's the site for the measures for the summit.

Speaker 1:

The summit is measuresummitcom.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, measuresummitcom perfect. So I said at the beginning that I was going to be reading out five-star reviews. This is a really short one from one of our listeners. He said this is a go-to podcast in the info production course space five stars. So if you want to get yours read out in the future, please go on to whatever podcast app you're using and then put your review there. If you found the interview useful and you want to get future episodes, please subscribe wherever you listened. Thank you so much for listening in today and Julian, thanks so much for coming on.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, John.

Data-Driven Marketing Is Essential
Data Tracking for Informed Business Decisions
Leading and Lagging Indicators for Analysis
Choosing the Right Web Analytics Tool