Six weeks ago I wrote about the only metric that matters. That metric is the number of people in your addressable market that are paying attention and are engaged with you.
Since I wrote that post I have had a number of conversations on the subject with both clients and business owner friends. The concept has had the same impact on them that it did on me when I first discovered it. There’s quickly a realization that much of the data we’ve learned to rely on as marketers and demand generation executives is often either useless or worse...misleading.
The world of data and analytics has hijacked an engineering term called the signal to noise ratio. In engineering it refers to a measurement that compares the level of a desired signal to the level of background noise. In data and analytics it means being able to separate the data that provides valuable insight from the data that merely creates noise or confusion.
The most common mistake I see when I assess an organization’s marketing and demand generation efforts is that they view a number of metrics - especially at the top and middle of the funnel - as a total, or average number. For example, I’ll often hear or see things like this: traffic is up x percent, we generated y leads, we’ve got z number of leads in our database.
The problem with averages, as the old saying goes, is that if I have one foot in boiling hot water and one foot in ice cold water, if I look at the average I’m fine...and in a lot of pain. And the problem with dashboards that reflect all activity is the data is skewed, often highly, by factors that don’t matter (like anybody not in your addressable market viewing your website).
Think of it this way. You’ve done a great job to build content designed for your desired personas so that it resonates with them, but is of little interest to others, and you’re also reviewing your web analytics. You know that time spent on site and on page is a good indication of engagement so you track that number.
You begin to notice that, as you have developed your new content strategy, Google Analytics is showing that the average time spent on a page or on the site is down. You begin to panic. How can this be? Why are we spending all of this time on our content and site when the data shows we’re getting less engagement? How am I going to explain our investments when I talk with the CEO?
Suddenly you remember that in a typical month only about 23% of the traffic to your site is from your targeted personas. You realize that the time that 77% of your visitors (the ones that you’re optimizing your content not to resonate with) have a greater impact on that metric than the 23% of visitors who actually matter. It is for this reason that you must segment your audience and the dashboards you use to judge and monitor progress.