Last week I got the opportunity to attend MeasureCamp in London and couldn’t refuse. MeasureCamp, founded by Peter O’Neil, is a web analytics conference which brings together experts in the industry to share ideas, experiences and stimulate discussion and debate. Like many of these events, the ultimate goal is to share knowledge and meet like-minded people. What makes MeasureCamp unique is that all attendees are encouraged to lead and participate in sessions on the day. This means there is an element of surprise when it comes to the speakers and the agenda for the day. What does this data mean to me?
Unsurprisingly Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) was a phrase that came up in almost all of the MeasureCamp sessions I attended. KPIs help tell organisations if they are achieving their objectives or not. What I did find surprising is how easy it is for organisations to measure success. There is no complex equation or formula, it is as simple as:
- Defining your business objectives and KPIs to measure these
- Prioritising your business objectives to focus on the key KPIs
- Analysing the key KPIs to make decisions and take action
A key part of my role as an Account Manager is to understand what my clients are trying to achieve and why. With so much analytic data instantly available nowadays though, one common question clients often ask is “What does this data mean to me?”. If measuring success is so simple then where are they going wrong?
Absolute vs. comparable numbers
Organisations often place too much emphasis on absolute numbers i.e. - number of site visits, time on site, bounce rate etc. These type of metrics in isolation don’t mean very much and organisations can find it difficult to identify whether they are good, bad or indifferent measures of success. However, comparing and combining metrics to create rates, ratios and percentages such as the average cost per visit or conversion rate is a much more powerful measure of success. Comparable numbers can help uncover positive or negative trends and patterns in data which in turn, drive decisions and actions about how organisations could work smarter.
Failing to analyse
The key takeaway from MeasureCamp for me was the difference between measurement and analysis. Measurement is about absolute numbers whilst analysis is much more about comparable numbers. Absolute numbers will tell you what is happening and comparable numbers help you understand what it means in relation to your business objectives and as a result, what you need to do next. Organisations questioning “What does this data mean to me?” are most likely measuring but failing to analyse!