Working Backwards: How to Avoid Making Measurement Unmanageable

product_comparisonsAs new ways of measuring digital programs pop up every day, the data available to marketers can be absolutely overwhelming.

Trust me, I work for an analytics company focused on simplifying measurement (oh snap, I just got why we’re called Simply Measured!), and even I have to take a step back to determine whether or not I’m getting buried in data I don’t need.

Our marketing analyst Nate Smitha and I have worked together on a dozen or so reports and studies, countless blog posts, and hundreds of press requests. Every time we do, we have to huddle up with the endless analysis and charts so we can say “okay, what do we have here that isn’t helping to tell a real story?”

Even if you’re not writing reports, you might be going through the same data-overload. I work with our social, content and blog teams, and the amount of data I could dig through and report on is insane: Engagement, Reach, Impressions, Page Views, Unique Page Views, Conversions, Retweets, Shares, Likes, Favorites, Bit.ly Links, UTM Codes, Email Open Rates…I could go on for a full post on this, but it wouldn’t be very interesting.

So what do you do whittle that data down to something manageable? Work Backwards.

1. What’s Your Endgame?

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 10.25.39 AMWhether you’re dealing with web analytics, social analytics, or mowing a lawn, you need to understand your endgame above all else. What do you want users to do? Where should they go? If you have a website that sells Slinkies, you want them to hit “purchase” on your Slinky page. If you’re a content marketer, it might be less concrete. You want to get the user to your website, develop thought leadership, and encourage social sharing. Even if there are multiple goals, you have to identify them before you can do anything else. These goals should be your primary focus, and can easily be quantified. “My goal is to sell XX Slinkies from the website.” Once this is set, then you can continue to work backwards.

2. What’s The User Flow?

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 10.28.03 AMIf you have your endgame identified, you can map the user experience to that point. I want to sell XX Slinkies this month, but I’ve only sold X. How do I double down? Well, if 90% of your Slinkies sold came to your site via an educational blog post called “The Top 10 Best Practices For Walking A Slinky Down The Stairs” you can determine how to double down on that. If 1 out of every 10 visitors to that post bought a slinky, the goal is to increase your visitors to that site. Focus on that metric. Visits to your blog drives the bottom line, and can now be measured.

3. Where Do They Come From?

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If your goal is to now drive visits to your  blog, you need to identify where your current readers are coming from. Which social networks are driving the most traffic? Which are driving the most valuable visits (meaning, where are the Slinky purchasers coming from?)? Are paid ads driving traffic?

Once you determine the places your visitors are coming from, you can focus on doubling down. If a paid social ad drove XX visits, whats the breaking point for your ROI? If a social campaign drove XX visits, can you double down on that? Determining the leading traffic sources lets you know which area to focus on. Likewise, understanding the worst performing traffic sources allows you to understand what to ignore.

4. What is the First Step Someone Needs to Take?

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 10.31.38 AMOnce you understand which sources are converting into site traffic for your Slinky blog, you can identify how they’re converting.

Is there a particular CTA that’s working well? A language choice that can provide insight into your business? What does the user need to do to get from Twitter to your Slinky blog. What worked well in the past?

Measure the content type that works the best for you to understand the way users engage.

5. How Many Interactions Equal a Conversion?

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If you know that a particular type of content on a social, paid, or search channel is driving traffic, you can determine how many times you need to get your message in front of your audience and what percentage will click through. Once you have a formula for the number of people that click through to your site in relation to the number of people you interacted with, you can focus on those interactions.

By working backwards, you break through your analysis paralysis (which is my least favorite term, but unfortunately pretty relevant) and focus on the metrics that actually matter to your bottom line goals. Otherwise, you’re looking at Retweets just for the sake of looking at Retweets.

To learn how Simply Measured’s elegant and easy-to-understand reporting solutions can help you cut through the social data noise, request an invite to a free trial today:

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Kevin Shively

Kevin Shively

I manage the blog team at Simply Measured. My job is to tell stories to the internet...You're welcome internet.