How to identify what metrics matter

Having a lot of data is great but like pretty much everything in life that is a good thing it still brings its own problems. With a lot of data there are any number of metrics you can produce. Some even look pretty impressive in reports. Yet which ones are actually useful?

Linda Popky gives a very sensible view of what you should look for. The advice isn’t detailed and won’t let you get to picking the specific right metrics but if you follow her advice you should have at least made a good start on the thought process. Her three key things to look for are:

“1 Metrics should be easy to understand and use” (Popky, 2015). Clearly if those who are supposed to be gaining insight from a metric don’t know what it means the metric probably isn’t that useful.

“2 Metrics should be easily replicated” (Popky, 2015). As part of this she includes the idea that the metrics should be regular and comparable. Having a sparkly metric one month and a different one the next isn’t useful for seeing how the company is changing for good or ill.

“3 Metrics should provide useful, actionable information that impacts the business” (Popky, 2015). This is hard to argue with.

The author also suggests that the “pressure to measure too many things at once” (Popky, 2015) is a significant problem. To combat this she suggests asking: “why is it important that we track this? What do we learn from this metric? What else should we be looking at?” (Popky, 2015). While this advice isn’t too surprising marketers can miss it and so it is worth sharing.

Read: Linda J. Popky (2015) Identify the Marketing Metrics That Actually Matter, Harvard Business Review, July 14, 2015