Good Measurement Starts with the Right Goals

measurement-goals
Picture courtesy of Brandy Yearous.

It’s no secret that I am an advocate of measuring marketing communication efforts. Without measurement, how can you ever know if you’re succeeding or failing? Too often we become afraid of metrics because it involves numbers but you need to get over it. Data is the present and the future.

Measurement is hard. You need something to measure and that means work. After all, goals and objectives don’t create themselves. We have to conceive them. That’s simple. The hard part is creating the right goals and objectives.

It’s easy to focus on the wrong things because we want to be successful. This sometimes means we grab ahold of anything we can that we that will help say, “See, I’m smart. I’m successful.” I know. I’ve been there.

Today, I’m going to challenge you to stop and look at your goals, objectives, and how your measuring. Is what you’re doing actually helping you achieve what you want or are you focusing on vanity metrics that make you feel good?

A Clear Goal to Measure

This past weekend I went to the Idaho Dance & Cheer State Championships where my nephew’s cheerleading team was competing (that’s him flying in the above picture). They competed in four categories and had a great day winning a fourth, two seconds and a first to finish in third place overall in their group at state. 

My parents and niece couldn’t attend due to being diagnosed with Influenza A (flu season isn’t over yet) the day before the competition so they weren’t able to attend. When I gave my dad the results he said, “That’s too bad.” My niece responded, “Are they sad?”

Perspective is always important so I’m going to give you a little background. The cheerleading program had some fantastic successes in the ’80s and ’90s. Since then, well, they have been far from the glory years.

Their goal this year was to win first overall in their district. They had a large group of seniors coming back but it was still a challenging goal. The coach said she would jump in a lake if they won. Three weeks ago they were the district champions and the coach took a swim.

So now we are back where we started, a third-place finish at state. Was the team upset or disappointed? Far from it. They were very happy. They had some stiff competition and knew they would be doing great to finish in the top three. And to see them celebrate…it was special. They worked hard and not only did they meet their goals they exceeded them. Placing at state was just icing on the cake.

Avoid the Vanity Metrics

The story above was about having the right goals but it is also a cautionary tale. We sometimes focus so much on winning that we ignore everything else. Goodness knows I like to win (actually I hate to lose more than I like to win which is an even bigger problem).

It’s nice to see a social media post get likes. It makes us feel good. I’m certainly not immune. I enjoy seeing my posts get likes but that action doesn’t do anything for my business’s bottom line.

That doesn’t mean the likes that you get are worthless. The likes, shares, and comments can help you see whether what you are doing is resonating. If it’s not, you may want to change course (you’ll always want to check other data sources to make sure this is the case).

The same goes for your website. Having 2500 people visit your site every week looks great on the surface but there is more to the story. If you see that people are only staying an average of 10 seconds you are getting the wrong traffic which is just as bad as getting no traffic. You will never have a chance to convert somebody to a customer if they are only staying on your site for a few seconds. Even if you’re not an e-commerce site, the longer they stay and the more pages they look at is an indicator of intent.

Every organization, whether for profit or a non-profit, wants a lead to do something. It could be to purchase a product, make a donation, or volunteer. We always recommend setting up funnels in Google Analytics so you can see if your leads are walking through the steps to convert.

It all Ties to Goals

All the planning you do is about reaching your goals. The strategy you use and the objectives that you define tie back to the goals. I’ve talked about creating goals before so I won’t rehash those thoughts but you can review here.

You need to make sure that your goals are achievable but they shouldn’t be too easy. If your goals are far out of reach, missing them can sap morale. Conversely, if you are consistently crushing your goals, they probably are not very challenging.

Take your time creating your goals. Like web traffic, having the wrong goals is as bad as having no goals at all. If your goals are SMART, you will be on the right path.

Some goals will make more sense than others. For example, we are a small agency so we don’t give much thought to market share. We feel it is much more prudent to focus on revenue and profits and we have specific goals we focus on for both.

Final Thoughts

If you haven’t created goals, now’s the time. If you already have goals stop for a minute and review them. Are they the right goals for your business? Do the same thing with your objectives. Now, look at how you’re measuring. If your metrics are not aligned with your goals and objectives, you have some work to do.

The saying goes time is money. Don’t waste your time or money. You need to measure so create the right goals. Your success depends on it.


Shane Carpenter
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