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By Any Measure…

If your business is anything like mine, then you probably use metrics to measure things.

Things like web stats, particularly number of visitors; uniques, downloads (if downloads are your thing) and, if like the business I work in, things don’t measure up, then you take corrective action and try to make them do so.

If you’ve been around a bit longer than two years, you probably also measure things on your blog, like trackbacks, tweets, and slavishly look at your link stats and on it goes: measure, measure and measure some more.

Some of you are probably more familiar with Google Analytics that you are with your own web site.

Which brings me to the point of this article: measurement should not be the primary focus of what you do, if for no other reason than you can’t measure everything, and some measures are more important than others.

Let’s delve deeper.

So, your goal is to get more traffic to your website. What are you measuring here? If you are in the content business, then perhaps number of visitors is important to you; but if you’re not, then you’re measuring the wrong goal. If, like me, you’re in the software business, then the number of people who visit the site is much less important than the number of people who download the software. So perhaps that should be the measure? Well, maybe, but to me, the number of people who download is far, far, far less important than the number of people who actually pay for the software. That’s the real measure I care about.

What I’m really talking about above is conversion. I care, passionately, about the number of people who end up buying software, and no other metric, except to help determine if I attracting people who don’t download, is actually pretty unimportant. I am sure in your business it is the same.

Yet, we all, slavishly, pore over the analytics data, do “goal” calculations, work out conversions, and plan our campaigns as appropriate.

But what about the things you can’t measure?

How about how fuzzy and good your product makes your customers feel?

The feel-good factor of interacting with your business (and you as a person) on twitter, or Facebook or your on-site forums?

The smile you generate on someone’s face because you did good by them?

These are all things you can’t actually measure, and yet they are the things that will, ultimately, if you also have a good product, make you a success.

And speaking of product: every hour spent going over the analytics, the review, the changes, the link stats; these are hours you are not working on making your product the best it can be.

I wonder, therefore, if we all put as much effort into delivering content (be it articles or new software updates) as we do into measuring the things we don’t actually care that much about, if sales would actually be better?

The take-a-way here is: analytics and measurement are important. But they are nowhere near as important as making sure you are delivering what your customers want, which ultimately gets you what you want: more sales. Plan the appropriate time on each activity proportionally. My gut feeling is we spend a little too much time on analytics, and nowhere near enough time on delighting our customers.

Disagree? Tell me in the comments.

Picture Credit: Measuring Time, by Aussiegall (Louise Docker) on Flickr, under Creative Commons with attribution license

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  • Patricia Niemann

    I do agree, dear Justin. Alas, I will need to think about how it exactly applies to a creative microbusiness.  Delighting people will make for customers who will think of you first, when they happen to need one such as you. Which could take a while. It is a long-term investment. Honesty, passion and an open mind are essential, though – until it happens.