Metrics that Matter

I love data. And I love ideas grounded in data. So much so that it can inhibit my decision-making. Kids love pinatas, you say? And you’re just saying that based ... based on ... YOUR EXPERIENCE? DOES NOT COMPUTE. (Robo-Ashley crashes to the floor.)

I like to think my reliance on data makes me a great critical thinker. Others may consider it more of a wet blanket characteristic (depends on who you ask).

Pulling numbers that don’t matter or aren’t true barometers of success is a waste of time. It’s something we see a lot with publishers. And of course, we’re even guilty of it from time-to-time. So, to give you a starting point, and to keep ourselves in check, we’ve compiled a list of metrics you should be swapping on your monthly reports.

  1. Swap Follower Counts for Reach. If you’re still touting the number of your Facebook followers verses your reach, you haven’t been paying attention, my friend. Or, as I like to say, “you’ve been Zucked.” Based on the ever-changing algorithms of major social platforms, you should know by now that your followers are not seeing every post you share. Why care about a number that doesn’t accurately reflect your brands strength and breadth? It’s helpful when you’re just launching a new brand, but for an established brand, this metric is meaningless. Instead, focus on your social reach. Bonus metric: your social referral source. Social is a dangerous master to serve, make sure you’re understanding the true impact each channel has on your web traffic.

  2. Swap Pageviews for Loyalty. I’m not suggesting you remove pageviews from your reports altogether, but I am suggesting you rethink the value you put behind your pageview metric. In a podcast I was listening to recently, I was reminded of something we already know about the internet—it favors the extreme (think: Chewbacca mom, the pregnant giraffe lady, Beyonce’s pregnancy, etc.) So, why do we continue to use pageviews as a benchmark of success? Most of us are producing substantive content on a regular basis. Seeing the number of visitors coming back to your site over a month tells us how well you are doing, compared to the page view count of a cat video you posted. Bonus metric: time on site.

  3. Swap Emails for Engagement. The number of emails you have on your mailing is not indicative of the quality of work you are doing.  The metrics that matter are open and click rates. Your open rates should validate the segmentation and the deliverability efforts you’ve worked to achieve, while your click rates reflect how interested the user is in your content. Any number that doesn’t take those into consideration isn’t telling the whole story. You can have 700,000 emails in your database, but if only 10,000 have opened an email in the past six months, you have a lot of work to do. Make sure you’re putting engagement at the top of your report, don’t bury it under the list sizes. Bonus metric: your unsubscribe rates. If your audience is fleeing, something is awry.

  4. Swap Totals for Growth. The above can all be incorporated into this last metric amendment, but let this be a gentle reminder that totals tell you very little about your audience, so don’t be beholden to them. Instead, note growth, comparisons year-to-year, and month-to-month. Focusing on totals alone will create an isolated story, helpful to no one within your organization.

Adapting these new metrics, along with the willingness to abandon reports when they truely add no value, will help us all be marketers that matter.