In a data-driven world many marketers find themselves going down a ‘rabbit hole’ – becoming so fixated with specific metrics that they often become blind to the broader picture. But just how do you navigate through the data ocean and keep your head safely above the surface? The goal is to keep focused on the customer experience.

Start with precisely what you want to glean from the data and work backwards from there.

Recently a utilities company approached us with a massive amount of data. They knew that buried within millions of meter readings and billing data was information that could be strategically useful to the organisation, but they weren’t sure how or where to begin aggregating. Many organisations find themselves in this situation and feel real anxiety about having too much data, or they worry they’ll never get to explore that data or extract anything meaningful from it.

Depending on the problem that marketers are looking to solve, or the specific insight they are hoping to gain, it’s usually overkill to move all of the data they’ve aggregated into a marketing platform. Instead, we ask them to consider a few key questions: which data do you want to use, what do you want to do with the data and what experiences are you looking to create?

In the case of the utilities company, we were able to simplify their needs into just two things: identifying those who were using too much energy and those who were paying too much.

Focus on the metrics that will help you achieve your goal.

With so much unstructured data collected from multiple sources, it’s easy to see how people feel they are drowning in a sea of different metrics. Facebook alone has dozens of detailed metrics reports, and when you add Google Analytics with their own multiple scores and metrics, it’s difficult to know which data will be the most useful.

The key again is to focus on your end goal to decide which of these metrics will provide the levers to help you uncover the information you’re looking for. Usually something like reach is quite common across platforms and can also be used for email. For example, metrics around the number of people who saw a piece of advertising or communication can be useful in tracking the reach to conversion rate. Focusing on one metric that matters usually makes it a bit clearer, but it’s important not to ignore other metrics that might be changing the journey on the way, such as a new variable that’s becoming more important, or a metric that previously performed well but has now started declining.

Identifying trend data can also be important and beneficial. There are various tools available that can spot trends really quickly, which is particularly attractive if you don’t have the budget for a team of analysts. Being able to quickly spot trends buried within hundreds of different types of data – even though they might be small – could appeal to the highest end of your customer segment and ultimately prove extremely valuable.

Linking social with email – which metrics matter?

As long as it’s aligned to an objective, your social media strategy can prove to be brilliant for awareness. You can cherry pick from the hundreds of metrics social provides to find the ones that help justify your activity. If the goal is to ultimately drive activity, such as footfall into store or online purchases, it needs to be dovetailed to other channels. Social is a great one-to-many channel, but email is still really good for one-to-one communications, so if you can align social and email together you’ll know it will drive customers down some kind of funnel or AIDA process.

Overall, don’t try to measure everything, focus on the leading indicators that are most valued to your business and then identify look-a-like metrics across your channels and qualify the difference between them for the sake of comparison. However, don’t get addicted to your own metrics; it’s important to reflect on your wider business goals (revenue, new customer acquisition, etc.) and understand how your digital activity contributes. For example, an attribution model can be effective but can also be a time/money sink, so the benefits must be weighed up to establish if it’s the best investment to make.

As marketers find new ways to leverage data, it’s important to remember that business intelligence programs can accomplish incredible things, but they will never understand your business and your customers as well as you. Therefore, it’s critical to begin the process by knowing what you are hoping to accomplish with your data, or what gaps you’re hoping to address. From there, you can work backwards to extract the most meaningful insight from your data. Soon, you will not just be keeping your head above water, but kicking out in the sea of metrics with the perfect swimming stroke.

Daniel Kennedy

Daniel Kennedy


Daniel Kennedy, Head of Consulting - UK at Cheetah Digital.