You know you have data, and you know you need to measure progress this year. But from website analytics to marketing campaign performance and member databases, there is a lot to digest. How do you know what metrics matter the most for your organization?The ideal scenario is that you are able to sift through all of the data you collect every month to pull out a few actionable insights that can help you gauge how your work is performing. You might also have a board report or two that could use some positive percentages. To do this well, you need to hone in on the right data and report on the right metrics in 2019 that help you confidently tell the story of your activities. The beginning of the year is a great opportunity to take stock of what worked well (or maybe not so well) last year and recalibrate for the year ahead. Creating a measurement plan can help. Focusing in on key performance metrics & planning how to measure success can transform a lot of otherwise unorganized information into actionable insights that you can then use to make strategic decisions. So what goes into measurement planning?
1. Research & benchmark past performanceTo create a tailored plan of how you and your team will measure success in 2019, you need to start with researching what historical data you have available. This might mean mapping out all of the different systems that your team is responsible for and making sure data collection is working properly in each. Once you have an understanding of what data is accurate and available, look at past performance for some basic metrics like total page views or engagements. The best benchmarks are the ones you create from your previous work, so don’t worry if you’ve read somewhere that your engagement rate “should” be twenty percentage points higher than it was last year.
2. Set GoalsUse your benchmarks to help you align your goals for 2019. This is where we can narrow in on specific metrics that help you tell the story of success. During the goal-setting stage, try working backward and start by asking yourself what success looks like in your work. It’s important to note that you and your immediate team’s definition of success might vary slightly from what your organization’s leadership views as success. There might be certain senior team members who really want to see a seven-digit number when you report on total unique visitors to your website every month. If you think that could be the case at your organization, it’s best to consider both definitions of success while planning. Guiding your organization to think about key metrics beyond those big flashy vanity metrics can take some time. Changing hearts and minds doesn’t happen overnight, so don’t worry if you need to compromise and include total unique visits in every email you send to your manager. You can use it as an opportunity to explain the “why” behind whether that one number is up or down over time and highlight additional metrics, like how many of those visits viewed more than one page on your site.
3. Document your planDocumenting your measurement plan will not only help you hold yourself and your team accountable for tracking what you set out to measure this year, but it will also help you communicate your priorities to others. Referring back to a plan that says you need to be able to measure an increase in membership applications every month is a helpful way to pull in other teams that might be able to help you achieve your goals. Measurement planning is not a one-and-done process that can only happen at the beginning of the new year. It is meant to be iterative! You might be collecting and reporting on data and you outlined in your measurement plan well into the second half of this year and that work might illuminate additional data gaps that you’ll need to fill in order to tell the right story of progress. That’s ok! Continue to build off of past measurement plans as your organization collects more data and shifts strategies.
In January 2019, we held a webinar on “The Metrics that Matter: What You Need to Measure in 2019.” Request a free copy of the webinar recording today.