What are you going to measure to know if you’re making progress or not? If you start reading any articles about metrics (inbound marketing metrics that is), they all talk about the same stuff: website traffic, keyword performance, blog views, call-to-action click through rate, visit-to-lead conversion rate, and lead-to-customer conversion rate, just to name a few.
Those metrics are indicators of success, so you need to look at them. But, from a high level, what are 1-2 key business metrics that will make you feel really good about the progress you made this year?
Sometimes, the metric may be super easy to track, and sometimes it might not be.
In Change to Strange: Create a Great Organization, author Daniel M. Cable, talks about the importance of differentiating yourself from other companies by measuring different things than they do. Don’t always go with the industry standard metrics because then you’ll be just like everyone else.
Find some key aspect of your business or customer relationships that you want to laser in on - that you want to do better than anyone else. In doing so, it will drive you to start measuring things that your competitors aren’t.
For example, one of my goals for this year is to improve customer “happiness.” I believe that in doing so it will reduce attrition and increase referrals. But how do I measure how my customers feel? I’ll need to think of a creative way to do that.
Metrics help you stay focused on key priorities.
Dan also talks about how business metrics are very helpful in directing workforce behavior. He says, "When you tell people what will be counted and scored, they focus on those things a lot. Often to the exclusion of other things going on in the environment.” You don’t want people doing work that isn’t aligned with your core objectives!
Focus on improvement, not pie-in-the-sky goals.
I also really like the article Jill Konrath posted on her blog: Performance-Based Goals vs. Getting Better Goals. She talks about how performance goals based on some far-off measure of success can work, but can also trigger fear and blame if you’re struggling - especially when you’re doing something new.
A “getting better” goal keeps you focused on progress, which is the most important thing. For example, if you’re on a tight budget you may not have enough money to reach your ultra aggressive goals. You might not be able to hire all the people you need, invest in enough technology, etc. in the time frame you want them.
The good news is that according to psychologist Don VandeWalle, people with getting better goals actually work harder, plan better, and perform better.
It can be really hard to figure out the right things to track for your company - but don’t just throw your hands up and say forget it! Start thinking about the things that make your company unique - and what you can measure to know if you’re on the right track.