Measurement matters. Or in the words of international performance improvement and quality expert, H. James Harrington, “Measuring is the first step that leads to control, and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”

At a recent Siteimprove/Which-50 senior executive panel discussion, Soren Laumand, analytics product expert for Siteimprove described measurement as the missing link between genuine data-driven, marketing approaches and companies that simply collect a lot of data.

He told attendees, “We’re collecting more data than ever, so the issue is not missing data. On the contrary, the issue is that there is too much data, and it is often too complicated for us to make sense of it.”

The sheer volume of data coming at marketers these days works against them and leads to analysis paralysis.

Avoiding this trap is essential. Brands that have mastered the art of a high-performing website, typically adopt a much more structured approach, enabling them to focus on achieving business goals.

Sadly, according to Laumand, too few companies can do this successfully. Siteimprove’s research suggests only one in five marketers are able to see a clear effect from acting on their insights.

“As marketers we have been talking about data-driven insights for a long time. While we are spending more time on data-driven initiatives, it is proving hard to turn those insights into actions that we can be certain are working to help us deliver our business goals.”

One way to understand the reasons for this is by getting underneath the three common factors Siteimprove identified in high-performing websites.

Most user journeys begin outside of your own website and which means recognising and understanding that there are several channels that drive traffic — such as search, paid advertisements, email marketing and social media channels.

Laumand explained, “There’s a lot of different channels feeding into your website and you are already communicating with your users before they arrive at the site. Often, those channels are managed by different people and teams and some of those channels — such as paid advertising — might be managed by different companies, such as an agency.”

Apart from the challenge of taming all these disparate data channels, there are also organisational challenges such as ensuring the messages are consistent and aligned around the same outcomes.

Failing to heed these organisational concerns makes meeting expectations much more difficult.

It’s important to never lose sight of your website actually supporting the company’s goals.

This may seem self-evident, but it is surprising how many organisations track very basic measures — for instance, page impressions or time on site — when the real issue is to measure the things that matter.

“We need to look at those metrics that actually make a difference within our organisation,” said Laumand.

About this author

Andrew Birmingham is the director of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit of which Siteimprove is a corporate member. Our members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply.

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