Most marketing professionals have at least a semi-familiar relationship with some specific digital marketing metrics. Website data, social metrics… we’ve all seen bounce rates from Google Analytics and engagement rates from Facebook posts. What eludes most marketers, however, is being deliberate about linking these metrics to organizational objectives. Diving into any analytics program without a clear idea of what you’re looking for will lead to complicated reports that don’t solve the problem and confuse your audience.

It sounds pretty simple, right? Let’s pretend our objective is to increase email subscriptions, and thus we report on the variety of marketing tactics and channels, and their likelihood to contribute to a new email audience.

In reality, however, we often get bogged down in vanity metrics, data that is in no way related to our stated objective.

Vanity Metrics. Yea, that'd be great.

It comes down to focus—we have to remain honed on our objectives, and the means that accomplish them—that means evangelizing our data throughout stakeholder groups that may have their own ideas on what is representative of success. It also means reminding our colleagues of the alignment that we’ve established between our chosen KPIs and stated objectives.

So where does that leave us? Really with a short list of steps in our report-building and selection that leaves us with a simpler, more focused approach. Now that we have an agreed-upon set of KPIs and the buy-in of our colleagues, we can ask (and answer) sophisticated questions of our performance data. That means a scientific approach (hypothesis, control, outcomes). Instead of asking, “How did my campaign perform?” try these on for size:

  • If we alter our release frequency, what is the effect on average order size?
  • What is Topic X’s likelihood of contributing to our conversion funnel versus Topic Y?
  • If we shift 20% of our Native Ad Spend to LinkedIn, what is the impact on lead generation?

Each of these questions relies on data for decision making. Plenty of marketing teams struggle to do this effectively. If your team is able to confidently impact organizational KPIs based on the data, you will have gained a competitive advantage in the marketplace. But remember, asking questions and finding answers is only part of the process.

A quick review:

  1. Select KPIs That Match Objectives
  2. Ignore Extraneous Data
  3. Evangelize and Defend Selected KPIs
  4. Ask Scientific Questions of Performance KPIs