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We get the question often, and it comes in several forms:

Metrics can be confusing, and worse, time consuming.
Metrics can be confusing, and worse, time consuming.

“What should we be measuring?”

 “We’ve got all these followers, but what are we doing with them?”

 “There are so many metrics, but which are the most important?”

“People saw our message, but what does that mean?”

The advent of digital marketing and social media is great because it allows us to measure an infinite amount of metrics.  The downside is determining which metrics are most important, and not wasting time on all of the other statistics. Here are five simple questions to ask when identifying the metrics that will matter most:

1)   What action are you trying to get your audiences to take?

Probably the simplest, but also most important, question in this list. Are you looking for a sale? A download or a signed petition? Maybe something as simple as a click or a share? This question should actually be answered while you plan your campaign, and it will help guide answers to the following four questions.

2)   What are the engagement factors that will help lead to that action?

Based on the action you’re looking for, what are the key factors that might be a precursor to that action? Might comments lead to other actions?  Do clicks lead to purchases? Does more time spent on your site translate to better sales? These “mid-tier” engagement metrics can be extremely helpful.

3)   What exposure metrics can you tie to more engagement?

We’ve always subscribed to “quality over quantity” thinking, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work on a large number of quality eyeballs. How many of the right likes/followers/friends/readers are you acquiring based on your campaign? If they truly are the “right” individuals, your engagement metrics will also likely increase, likely leading to more “action” taken as well.

4)   Are there historical learnings you can pull from?

If you’ve run similar campaigns, or even campaigns tailored to similar audiences, you’ve already got some data to pull from. Don’t forget to look at your historical metrics to guide what will be most important for today’s campaign.

5)   What other marketing functions are occurring that may have an impact?

There’s nothing more frustrating than completing a digital campaign only to find out another marketing function (e.g., advertising, email, public relations, events, sponsorships, etc.) was likely detracting from, or competing for, your audience’s attention. Ideally you’d have all marketing functions rowing in the same direction, but at the very least, make sure you’ve isolated your digital campaign so that you can point to success with confidence.

Identifying specific metrics will certainly be more difficult than simply asking these questions, but it’s always good to have a blueprint from which to work.

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