Measurement is seen as the missing link between genuine data-driven marketing approaches and simply collecting a lot of data. However, there are some downsides if you don’t measure intelligently.

At a recent Which-50 and Siteimprove panel discussion on the science of high-performing websites, panellists highlighted the pitfalls involved in measurement.

One of the panelists, Damian Cronan, CTO at Nine Entertainment, said there are metrics that express whether a campaign is successful — but in a way that’s just measuring the outcome.

“More important is, what are the measurements that you’re going to put in place for each of your experiments, to assess whether you’re going to move the needle along those outputs or not.

“That requires some complex interaction between design, editorial for us, and more generally the business stakeholders as well as technology.”

Cronan said companies always need to question what they are doing by first asking “what problem is the consumer trying to solve?”

“When you’re led by the marketing department, or if you’re led by sales-driven outcomes, you might get some short-term gains — but it’s not always the long-term, sustainable play.

“You might end up tearing out things you don’t want to be tearing out in the longer term, when you consider the sustainability of your proposition,” he added.

Focusing on the wrong metrics

Soren Laumand, analytics product expert for Siteimprove, gave the panelists three examples of how measuring the wrong metrics could lead companies astray.

First, when a company’s page impressions increase by 55 per cent. Laumand said this is not necessarily a good outcome.

He said, “It might reflect a successful advertising campaign, or it might reveal a usability problem — if, for instance, users are jumping all over your site because they cannot find what they actually need.”

Second, the bounce rate on the site grows to 98 per cent. This may not necessarily be a bad outcome, Laumand said.

It’s possible the result reveals a lack of stickiness on the site, but it could also mean that you are fulfilling customers’ needs quickly and efficiently.

Laumand explained, “For example, if they are looking for the address and opening hours of a retail outlet, giving them access to that information when they first arrive is a much better experience than making them work for it.”

Third and last, your unique visitors are up over the past month. This is not necessarily the best thing. Laumand said not all visitors are equal, and if you are attracting lots of visitors with little prospect of conversion, you may simply be driving cost into your organisation.

Likewise, fewer but more valuable visitors might drive an improvement in margins.

About this author

Athina Mallis is the editor 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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