The digital communications space has turned a lot of marketers into fans for its targeting ability, two-way audience interaction and especially its unrivaled measurement ability.
Even a free service like Google Analytics offers an incredible depth of statistics about how people interact with your Web content, and social media aggregation platforms like Hootsuite are upping their game when it comes to analytics reporting.
For those of us who have spent our lives consumed with turning the perfect phrase, this world of numbers, charts and statistics is a new and exciting challenge.
Unfortunately, as easy as some of these services make it look, we still run a risk of missing the point and building meaningless metrics into our communications strategies, or tracking our metrics incorrectly even if we choose the right ones.
Here’s one simple thing to remember to make sure your metrics are effective tools for evaluating your digital communications efforts:
It’s just a number. Only context makes it mean something.
Choosing the right metrics to evaluate your plan against your business goals is the first challenge, and Jay Baer has an unbeatable post on that topic here.
But even once you pick the right metrics, it can be easy to get lost in a sea of numbers and forget context. The golden rule of metrics doesn’t just apply to picking the right metrics, it applies to analyzing how you’re tracking against them.
For instance, increasing time-on-site is a worthy goal for many marketing plans. But if users are spending more time on your site because you’re posting pictures of cute kittens, or search-optimized but useless content, you’re probably missing the mark, even if you’re blowing the metric out of the water.
Your job as a digital communications strategist doesn’t end with selecting the metrics. It’s easy to just print off the gorgeous Google Analytics report and call your program successful, but if you don’t analyze the meaning behind the metrics, you’re not truly proving the value of your program. If you can present both the numbers and interpret the meaning behind them, you can improve your program and ensure it’s truly meeting the objectives you’ve designed it for.