What Are You Measuring and Why?
An account manager working on a pharmaceutical brand once asked me, "How should we code the various opt-in vehicles to track how many patients opt-in from each?"
My question back was, "Why do you want to know? What decision does it drive? You're not going to eliminate any opt-in vehicles because you want to give the patients the opportunity to opt-in at every available touchpoint."
The manager replied, "Well, don't you think that would be nice to know?"
As you evaluate what data to collect, ask yourself: What is nice to know vs. need to know? Is the information actionable? Does it relate to my objectives?
Of course, tracking the source of opt-in is standard operating procedure when you're looking to optimize a lead generation campaign. It's important to know which opt-in vehicles are performing best to redeploy budget dollars appropriately. But in this particular case, none of the opt-in vehicles were non-essential. Tracking the individual vehicles would have been purely measurement for measurement's sake.
The Dashboard Trap
Just because your dashboard can measure everything doesn't mean you should. We've become so obsessed with what we can count that we've lost track of why we're counting. You need a carefully thought-out measurement plan that's tied directly to your objectives, one that provides only actionable information that drives decisions.
Four Key Questions
Here are four questions to ask that will streamline your measurement plan:
- What am I trying to accomplish?
Clearly define your objectives and get management's buy-in.
- What are the key metrics?
Only track metrics related to your objectives. You'll find you need less than "everything but the kitchen sink"
- Where do I get the data?
Be selective with data points, especially online metrics. Of course you'll need more metrics to define website engagement than you will just to count opt-ins, but focus on the most important points of engagement. You don't need to track every possible navigation path and page view.
- How quickly and how frequently do I need the data?
Some things you need to know right away; others can wait. A basic tenet of decision analysis is calculating the value of information. The cost of obtaining information should be less than the value of the information itself. If you can make meaningful business decisions based on data that you collect daily, then by all means do it. But keep in mind that the staff hours to generate daily or weekly reports across all metrics add up quickly, so choose wisely.
Why Less Is More
You might think it's best to collect all the information you can get just in case you need it. If you think that senior management appreciates all this data, you may want to reconsider. Efficient measurement is tied to objectives. Management will appreciate your concise focus when you report back only the metrics that are related to your objectives.