“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” – Albert Einstein
This is a useful quote from one the great minds of our age, but if Einstein were to work in digital marketing and asked to come up with precise measures to quantify digital success for a business, I think he would define those metrics in a rational way where ‘less is more’ and ensure they truly answer those key business questions over time. For many businesses, the delivery of digital now forms a critical component of their marketing suite, presenting so many fantastic ways of reaching new audiences and markets. However large or small the opportunity, and the extent of the brand’s digital assets and footprint, translating what this means in terms of business value, can be a challenge for some, particularly articulating what measurable success really means.
The gut feel is to ‘measure everything’. Fine if you have “x” amount of time to wade through the data and try to crystallise “y” amount of insight, but marketers are busy people. Now pause for a minute and critically think about your digital proposition – what do I want to achieve and by when and how will I achieve it? Answering these simple questions and qualifying them with key stakeholders can shed light to a lot of the unknowns – it is also the building blocks towards defining (or refining) what success means to you as a digital business. That way you are in control of what is important and not so important in terms of performance metrics – your KPIs. Companies can sometimes get carried away developing their KPIs, happily producing long lists but with little rationale or context of the metric and where the data comes from. Some of the confusion may also lie with the mass of information that can be potentially measured and captured across the digital platforms, but may also point to the operational measures that traditionally prevailed in many businesses before the digital revolution.
Considering Einstein’s quote, we begin a process of elimination once you focus on the objectives defined by the business and start aligning them to your digital goals. The challenge here is to count the things that are important and make sure you can get hold of those numbers accurately and timely.
Let’s start with measures that are business critical, your ‘hard’ or ‘primary’ KPIs that should be closely monitored because they have a direct impact to your business, e.g. # Sales; % Lead Conversions, etc. Around 5-10 hard KPIs is usually sufficient to report, but it may range depending on your business priorities. Whilst some businesses determine success at the bottom-line, i.e. the volume of sales generated, another softer aspect of measuring digital activity is focusing on user or content engagement, e.g. % Content consumption rates; # Page views, etc. These are the ‘soft’ or ‘secondary’ KPIs where they indirectly influence your hard metricsover time.
For example, if more users are engaging with your content, then this is a positive indication that users are interested (about your proposition) and may want to take action (on your digital property) in the near future.Don’t ignore all your softer metrics as some are key in generating tactical insights to inform your optimisation strategies.
In summary, when you next think about digital success for your business, pretend to be Einstein for a day because less is always more when you are thinking about measurement.