Monday, July 30, 2012

Metrics are just numbers without context! (Give staff a voice! Part 3 of 10)

Metrics, here, metrics there. Metrics everywhere. Everywhere you look everyone is talking metrics.

But does these numbers even matter or mean anything?

Example: Our website had 11,000 visits last month.

What does that even mean? Is that high? Was that unique or total? Is that better than last month? What did they do while they were there? So many questions.

You need to provide context to your numbers.  Try to answer these questions to help people understand the numbers:

  1. What do these numbers mean? (define the label of the metric)
  2. How do these numbers impact our goals?
  3. How does this compare to our history?
  4. Is there a benchmark that we can compare this to?
  5. How does this compare to peers?
Beyond providing a simple definition and some comparables though you also need to demonstrate how these metrics impact your organization's ability to meet the mission, operating goals and strategic plans. To do that you need to tie the metrics to the:

Business Objectives - Identify business objectives in your org that are impacted by your digital effors.

Engagement Goals - Set some goals for your reach and engagement in your digital channels based on those business objectives. This is an easy way to identify trends and set priorities.

Outcomes - Set up mechanisms and tools to track the objectives and goals above. Be sure to find a way to share these outcomes in a meaningful way with context.

Overall Marketing Strategy - Use your metrics to judge the outcomes of campaigns. But be sure to interpret them and apply those learnings. Help the business owners understand what worked and what didn't.

Example: We would like to increase online donations. We will use emails containing individual stories to drive traffic to our website. We hope to have an email open rate of 20%, which is 3% higher than past performance. However, our email open rate dropped for this campaign. That impacted our website visits because email is out top way to attract traffic. So our next plan should have a stronger email presence.

Anyway, if you only remember one thing, a metric is just a number until you know what question you are answering. 42.

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