Measure Twice, Cut Once: The importance of measuring data
More often than not we struggle to understand what exactly made a project successful.
In this post we explore how to end the epidemic of guesswork by measuring your data effectively.
Those who have worked in the building or carpentry trade know the importance of the phrase measure twice, cut once. It means you should always double-check your measurements for absolute accuracy before cutting a piece of material; otherwise it may be necessary to cut again, wasting time and resources.
Many businesses do not heed this message enough in the digital world, yet the benefits of following its meaning are huge. If we do not know how to measure data accurately, it is very difficult to pinpoint what we did to produce a particular result, never mind analyse and evaluate the result to understand how to replicate or improve it.
Measuring the right data
The process of deciding what data to measure highlights what is important to any business. One way to approach data collection is to:
- List everything you can measure
- Assess the benefit of measuring each piece of data
- Create a final set of metrics to record
- Define targets to hit that become the benchmark of success.
Most businesses understand the importance of targets and set them at the start of every year. What we often forget to do is measure the data that contributes to the success, or failure, of hitting these targets.
Every business has different targets, so the data we measure to assess performance will differ depending on the company. However, the principle of measuring the data remains the same.
How do we measure our data?
CandidSky measures success across departments with different targets. For the purpose of this example, let’s concentrate on our brand marketing targets:
- Website users and session
- Social success (reach, engagement, impressions, subscribers…)
- Leads generated
- Awards won
- Press secured.
To successfully measure our brand marketing performance, we first created a marketing dashboard. Our dashboard links directly to Google Analytics data, our telephone data service and our press monitoring service.
It lets us see how we are performing against our monthly, quarterly and annual targets – in real time.
The true power of our dashboard lies in the deeper data it collects. We collect information about key pages on our website: including average time spent, bounce rate and exit rate. It means that if we are not performing as well as we would like for our ‘website sessions’ target, then we can very easily see where the leaks are and plug them to improve time spent on a specific page.
Another example is by measuring telephone enquiries and online form submissions our dashboard highlights data that allows us to quickly shift focus and place emphasis on online form submissions. Phone enquiries are reduced and staff time is freed up to spend elsewhere, thus improving efficiency.
Data tells us how to optimise our operations without compromising our targets. If we did not measure this data, the validity of our decision-making would be greatly diminished.
What measuring data has helped us do so far
So far, our data has given us vital insight on how to:
- Increase the amount of users visiting our site
- Increase the time an average user spends on our site
- Increase the amount of online enquiries we receive
- Highlight our most important social tools and channel resource in to them
- Highlight areas we need to improve on to stay on course to hit our 2016 targets.
Data is powerful. Even if you don’t yet know what the most important data for your business to measure is, or what it will tell you, it is crucial to start collecting data where you can.
Eventually, that data you have collected can be mined to tell a story directly related to business performance. This is vital ammunition for any organisation looking to improve their decision-making ability.
Simply put, there is no better way to highlight key digital opportunities, or to clearly identify barriers to success.