Talking About Measurement Is Just as Important as Doing It

There was a time when the web counter use to mean something. Tucked at the bottom of a freshly launched website in the early 1990s, the ever-growing number was a symbol of stature. It was the easiest way to communicate success.

Our measurement efforts have made great strides since that time and, today, “actionable analytics” means so much more than measuring hits. What is a hit anyway? A session? A user? A pageview?

The challenge today isn’t so much about our ability to measure, it’s about making sense of what we measure and why.

Today’s analytical tools track an incredible array of variables that allow marketers and analysts to slice and dice information in a myriad of ways. Google Analytics is an incredible tool.

How many of our visitors from Nebraska visited the site three times this month and accrued more than 12 pageviews? I can tell you that. How often did a Spanish-speaker search for a page only to leave the site immediately after? I can tell you that, too.

But talking about these numbers without context does nothing to help the drive-by boss asking for hit counts. Talking about metrics takes more than a regurgitation of numbers and buzzwords. It takes knowledge, patience and a certain level of expertise to explain causation and correlation in a meaningful way.

Here are three tips for getting started:

Define your goals first, then determine how to measure them.

There are more than 400 dimensions and metrics in Google Analytics and you can’t report on them all. Identify the ones that demonstrate progress toward your business goals. Those are your key performance indicators (KPI).

There’s no need to weed through the granular data if a few key metrics tell a crystal-clear story. Create defined goals in the tool and let the tool work for you.

Talk about analytics in a way that makes sense.

It’s a mistake to assume everyone understands bounce rate. If you don’t spend regular time in Google Analytics, it’s hard to learn the language. Leave the buzzwords in the tool. What people better understand is how you’re performing against agreed-upon goals and objectives.

Provide analysis and recommendations, not just metrics.

Measurement tools are great at creating dashboards but do little to translate metrics into meaningful information that could be used to make business decisions.

It’s one thing to watch the numbers rise and fall but another to understanding what the fluctuating numbers are saying.