Better Digital Analytics Requires Goals, Not Resolutions

February 26, 2018 | Ryan Hurley

Just two months into 2018, many of us are struggling to keep our New Year’s Resolutions. Despite the sleek new athletic wear, gym memberships, and healthy cooking apparatuses we bought en masse, over 90 percent of us have already given up—or will soon—on the promises we made when the ball dropped.

But there’s hope yet for 2018, because we can learn from those who’ve succeeded. One thing that separates people who actually manage to make a major change to their lifestyle, or even the way they conduct business, is that they set and work toward specific rather than directional goals. In other words, don’t commit to jogging more. Commit to running that 10K in May. It’s a simple lesson that people, and brands, can learn from. And we don’t have to wait another 11 months to apply it.

So What Does Your New Yoga Mat Have in Common With Digital Analytics

If you don’t set precise goals for how you’ll use it, you might as well not have it at all.

All too often, brands fail to make robust use of digital analytics. The discipline is used reactively, a warehouse of data that merely underscores successes or pinpoints the source of a shortcoming.

Yet waiting for moments of need to leverage digital analytics represents two discrete, and easily correctable, categories of error. 1) Your team will think of data as a tool that only measures outcomes, not ongoing goals that can be optimized for and 2) You’ll miss measurement opportunities that could have been identified earlier.

Whether your objective relates to advertising engagement metrics, website traffic statistics, or eCommerce sales figures, it’s imperative to set concrete goals to optimize against, and establish accountability for outcomes.

Because the beauty of digital is that so much can be measured so easily, success in this space is determined less by measurement capabilities than dedicated application of core, guiding metrics.

And while we’re two months into 2018, it’s not too late to establish these defined goals for your organization’s digital analytic practice. Regardless of the size of your digital presence, following these four core principles can position you for better analytics success in the New Year and beyond.

1) Define

Capture your goal using SMART methodologies. Are you aiming to drive 200 leads this quarter? 1MM site visitors this year? $5MM in digital sales by October? As important as the final outcome is, don’t forget to also define and account for any variables that can influence your outcome, such as available budget, competing initiatives, potential hurdles, etc.

2) Track

Ensure tracking is properly established so reporting is consistent, timely, and easily available. This may require additional back-end tracking setup on your website, a new report from your agency, or simply some modified settings in Google Analytics. Whatever is required is worth the investment; you can’t measure what you don’t track. (Perhaps you may even discover that your main goal should be to establish clear reporting practices).

3) Review

Establish periodic check-ins to discuss roadblocks, opportunities, and progress with key stakeholders. Goal achievement isn’t just a matter of interest to leadership, so this group should include any levels of personnel involved.

4) Communicate

Research has demonstrated that sharing goals and achievements can nearly double an organization’s success rate. Holding yourself and your team accountable through communication to the entire organization can also rally support for the initiative, and introduce additional ideas or opportunities that may not have been obvious at the outset.

The path to better performance isn’t merely a directional commitment (“We’ll do better at X!”) or an increase in attention to a certain matter or metric. It’s about setting and striving toward specific, measurable objectives. As you store away your new zucchini noodler or pull-up bar in the garage, put some thought toward how you, and your organization, can get better by getting a bit more specific. It’s a resolution you won’t regret.