January 21, 2022 | Emma Mulheran

Are We Measuring Too Much?

I like telling stories with data. 

It’s not something that gets me invited to parties, but it is priceless when assessing campaign performance. Metrics are keys that unlock performance insights that can guide optimization and strategy.

But what if your key chain is weighed down by a gazillion keys? Even if you know which one you’re looking for, it’s going to cost you precious moments to flip through the bunch. In a time when ‘agile’ is a buzzword, you don’t want to be lugging around the deadweight of irrelevant metrics. 

Context is like oxygen to a successful measurement plan. A more important question than “are we measuring too much?” may be “why are we measuring these specific metrics?”. The answer should lead you back to your desired marketing outcome and make it easy to see which metrics are key, and which ones you can ditch. 

Start from the top: outcome-based marketing

Outcome-based marketing is one of the guiding principles at WS, and it makes me happy. When all work ladders up to one outcome or goal, you always know your ultimate “why”.  

Once outcomes are translated to figures, strategies are designed, and tactics are chosen to execute those strategies, the next step is to assign KPIs that tell you if you’re tracking towards the desired outcome. It sounds straightforward, but we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to metrics, so it’s important to assess which KPIs fit your context. 

Metrics – spoiled for choice

Digital advertising and reporting offer up a buffet of measurement choices. I discover a new measurement for consideration every day and my nerdy soul cheers at the thought of what story it could tell me. 

Should you measure cost per click or cost per action? Is it better to gauge page scroll or video completion rate? And how are engagements different from likes and reactions on social media?

Our team always goes back to the ‘why’ to nail down the best KPIs for any campaign. 

KPIs – make them key

The word to pick out in the term key performance indicators is ‘key’. What indicators are paramount in illustrating performance? And if you have too many, are they really key? 

Select your KPIs with precision and power in mind. What measurements are the most indicative of success in your tactics and strategies?

Avoid vanity metrics

It’s easy to fill a dashboard or report with measurements that make everyone feel good but don’t tell you much about how you’re tracking towards your outcome. 

A low bounce rate is something to be proud of, but in the context of a campaign, it’s only successful if the next action the user takes on your site is aligned with your outcome goals. Cost per click is great for gauging search ad campaign cost efficiency, but traffic quality measures may be more important when working towards a goal of newsletter sign-ups.   

Ask ‘who’ as well as ‘what’

The industry is advancing in leaps and bounds when it comes to personalized advertising. The digital experience is growing more customer-centric by the day, and there are no excuses left for a one-size-fits-all campaign. 

The roll-out of GA4, the latest iteration of Google Analytics, acknowledges this with a measurement model based on events and users rather than sessions, as in previous versions. 

Tracking events with a higher level of custom parameters will help to discover more about the user and their journey through the funnel. Instead of knowing basic information about a user’s visit to our site, we can also learn more about what actions they took while they were in the house. By amassing user behaviour data, we can start to paint a picture of our users, identify trends, and make informed business decisions. Hello, personas. 

GA4 is a blog topic in itself – for now, we recommend setting it up to run side-by-side with your existing UA account, as GA4 will not collect data retroactively.

So, are we measuring too much? 

You might have a great reason for hauling around a bulky key chain, but if you’re interested in lightening the load, assess every measurement through the lens of context. Why are you measuring in the first place? Why is a particular metric important in the framework of your campaign? What business decision could you inform with this measure?

Keep asking ‘why’, and the question of over-measurement should answer itself.  

Emma Mulheran

With over eight years of experience in marketing, paid media and analytics, Emma likes to know how and why things tick. Emma has a degree in Communications from Griffith University, Australia, where she majored in Marketing and Writing - a combination that sparked a passion for storytelling and insights illustrated by data findings.