Measurement is critical component to evaluate the success of your site or campaign. A measurement plan provides the roadmap that may be used to understand your business investment (the ROI), what was or wasn’t successful, and what to improve in the future.  If measurement isn’t done, you can’t improve or evaluate your success.

Step 1: Identify the objectives

The objectives for your site or campaign are closely associated with its purpose. It’s helpful to qualify the purpose into objectives. When you qualify your purpose, you should end up with a measureable action for your customers to take on your site or for your campaign.

For a corporate site, you may have a site-wide purpose and objective, but different purposes and objectives for each of the audience segments that come to your site. For example, the investor audience segment may have different purposes and objectives than the audience segment that is looking to purchase a product on your site.

Once you’ve established your objectives, set performance goals. For campaigns, it’s typical to have one or two overall performance goal, but unique performance goals for each of the channels used for your campaign.

Step 2: Define the metrics

One of the challenges with the amount of data available is to identify the right metrics to track. Too often the tendency is to define all metrics as “important” in fear of not choosing the right metrics.

“Just because the data is available, doesn’t mean that it’s a metric to measure against.”

This obscures the actionable metrics, the real metrics that matter. When you review the data, ask yourself the following questions for each of the metrics that are considered:

  • How would you use the metric?
  • What decisions would be made if you had this metric?
  • If you had to pay to have this metric, would you? And how much?

In many instances, the answer is “I just want to see it” or “no decision will be made” helps you de-emphasize the importance of the metric. Bastardi and Shafir, studied how useless data (“just want to see it”) can make it harder to make decisions. Keep your metrics focused on the metrics that matter. Once you’ve narrowed the list of metrics, it’s helpful to categorize them into three groups.

1. Action: metrics that drive change. These are the metrics that help you identify success of the campaign or website. Examples of these metrics are onsite conversions, campaign return-on-investment, cost-per-engagement, etc.

2. Watch: metrics that are stand-alone and help to explain overall success, but by themselves do not equate to success. Think of these as turn-style metrics, just counting numbers like impressions, initial responses, visits, downloads, cart spends, etc.

3. Monitor: metrics that are outside your direct control, but may influence the overall campaign or website success. These are the organic metrics, the social or media mentions, etc. The data are important to track, but you have little control as to whether a message goes viral or the media covers your story, etc., but can have a direct impact on the campaigns overall success.

Step 3: How will the metrics be collected?

Identify the source for the metrics that are defined in Step 2. Surprisingly, this step is often assumed that the data is already available and no planning is needed. For some metrics, the data are available through existing measurement tools, for other metrics, it may require additional setup to track and measure.

Part of this step is to identify what metrics are quantitative or qualitative. The quantitative metrics are based on numbers to provide the trends, comparisons to benchmarks, progress to goal. The qualitative metrics are the “soft” data that are often collected by customer comments, open-ended surveys, customer observations, focus-groups and more.

The best measurement plans include both quantitative and qualitative metrics. The quantitative “hard” numbers provide the metrics on progress to stated goals, while the qualitative “soft” data provides the anecdotal color that helps to explain what was or wasn’t successful.

Step 4: Who are the audience for the metrics?

Identify who needs to receive the metrics. You will have different metrics that need to be provided to different stakeholders. For example, an executive will want to see how the campaign is progressing to the goals identified, while the campaign owner will need to see the detail to identify what worked and what didn’t. For each of the metrics defined in Step 2, identify the audience that needs to receive the metric.

At the same time, identify frequency of reports. Similar to Step 2, if no decisions will be made from a report that is provided daily, but with a weekly report, then report on the metrics weekly. For one of our clients, a daily e-commerce report was important to show the online conversions in the sales funnel. This allowed for adjustments to be made to the home page promotion as needed to align to campaign revenue goals.

Present the metrics in a form that connects with the audience. Different audiences will need to see the data differently.

Step 5: Interpreting the metrics

With a measurement plan that defines a focused and segmented group of metrics, you’ll find it easier to identify what success looks like and monitor against the established goals. From there, insights and logical conclusions can be developed for continual campaign or website improvement.