As a social media marketer and marketing analyst, one of the largest temptations of my job is to cling on to the wide array of metrics available. For example, even though I know that most of the 88 metrics that Facebook Insights provides is probably what many call “fluff,” my analytical demon still tells me to keep them as it might (someday) give me useful insights or trends.
I often associate this experience with a college student’s dilemma at the end of the semester of what he should do with his notes and papers collected throughout the semester. Should he throw them away or should he keep them? Many students end up keeping them, for the same reason why data analysts keep “fluffy” data: “I might need them someday.”
We all know, of course, that we never actually need them again. In the case of the college student, those papers will probably be tucked away in a corner of their room, only to be cleaned up when they graduate. In the case of the data analyst, it will probably get buried in the huge amounts of other data that he collects, never to resurface again.
This is Inefficient!
If it isn’t obvious already, this has “inefficiency” written all over it. Of the 88 metrics that Facebook Insights provides, how many of them do you think matters? That answer would depend on your goals, of course, but my guess is it will fall between three to five.
Collecting and updating this huge amount of data not only clutters your database, but also wastes your time.
So how do we ensure that we do not fall into the trap of keeping and analyzing data that is “fluff”? Well, it begins with knowing your goals and where you are in the overall marketing scheme.
Here at esd, we are a strong believer in McKinsey’s concept of the Customer Decision Journey as opposed to the more traditional marketing funnel. With this in mind, each of our departments focus on the metrics most relevant to their role in the Customer Decision Journey.
Advertising and PR, for instance, are primarily focused on creating reach. Therefore, we will worrying about conversion metrics for advertising and PR analysis. Social media, on the other hand is meant to create engagement. Knowing this, we will not be focusing as much on reach (although important as it correlates with engagement) as we do on the actual engagement that we have with the audience.
Focusing on the main purpose of each of your marketing functions will help you determine your goals, which will ultimately decide which metrics you should include in your reporting.
Choosing the Right Metrics
Sometimes, even when you set your goals, you will still be left with more than a handful of metrics to choose from. In this case, you will need to determine which are relevant metrics and which are not. Here’s a little guideline to help you pick the right one(s):
- Is it understandable to the audience?
- Can it be consistently collected?
- Can it provide consistently useful insights?
- Does it accurately measure your goals?
- Are there any better substitutes?
No matter your goals, performance can typically be measured with just three to five different metrics. If you find yourself with more than five metrics, you can probably afford going without one of them.
Looking at the Big Picture
Whether you are an agency or brand, you should always be looking for ways to re-define your work processes, making them more efficient and effective. Recognizing “fluffy” data when you see it is a great step towards this goal.
Can you imagine wasting potentially tens of thousands of dollars on trying to fix the conversion rate of social media only to discover later that conversion rate does not really matter? Ideally, before making such mistakes, we want to cut through the fluff and focus on the numbers that really impact your results.