Measure What Matters: Book Review
by Tim Frick
Katie Delahaye Paine’s book helps businesses go beyond analytics software to measure what’s important to their organization's success.
Comparing measured business performance data with key benchmarks to measure progress over time will often make the difference between an efficient operation that executes strategic tactical plans and one that flies by the seat of its business attire. Measure What Matters: Online Tools for Understanding Customers, Social Media, Engagement, and Key Relationships offers some ideas to streamline your analytics practices.
Kyle, Bill, and I all read the book and some of its contents are what inspired this Measure What Matters series on our blog. While our posts focus specifically on Google Analytics, the book takes a much more comprehensive approach to measurement.
Measurement’s Big Picture
Setting tangible goals for measuring important data across your business or organization—from sales and marketing to human resources, crisis management, and yes, website and social media performance—is a critical component of any good business strategy. Many large-scale businesses have standards for measuring growth and identifying weaknesses, but this is often a shortcoming with small businesses or nonprofits. Because of resource constraints, lack of time, a shortage of expertise—whatever the reason—good measurement practices often get shuffled to the back burner in favor of more pressing matters, like payroll, product promotion, or putting out daily fires at the office. This can adversely affect all levels of the business from productivity to the bottom line.
That’s where Katie Delahaye Paine’s book can help. It defines a clear approach for finding the information you need to make critical business decisions, whether yours is a one-person operation or has thousands of employees in many locations.
The book’s subtitle—Online Tools for Understanding Customers, Social Media, Engagement, and Key Relationships—is no doubt an attempt to cash in on online measurement’s upward trend, but that’s not really what this book is about. Measure What Matters covers best practices for collecting business data to inform decisions that will help your company, academic institution, or non-profit organization run more efficiently. Much of what the author advocates as best practices can be done with some spreadsheets and a good dose of business acumen, though she of course covers online tools as well. I picked up the book thinking I would gain some valuable insight into the many wonders of Google Analytics and gleaned much more ‘big picture’ data from it instead.
Included are chapters on measuring what people say about you and choosing the right measurement tools, but overall the books casts a far wider net, and that’s a good thing. It’s not just about checking your Google Analytics dashboard every few weeks (though that’s of course part of it). It’s about getting a much broader picture of your business…with more data to help you make educated decisions.
A Seven Step Process
Measure What Matters outlines a seven step process—based on the Grunig Relationship Survey (download the PDF: 29k)—for choosing tools and devising a measurement program for your business or organization. It then applies that process across multiple industries, business segments, and applications for a broad view of the data you need to be effective, including:
- Your local community
- Employees in general
- Sales teams
- Marketing, PR and Advertising in a social media world
- Thought leadership and industry influencers
- Events, sponsorships and speaking engagements
- Crisis management
- Defining customer needs
The Grunig Relationship Survey
As mentioned above, the author bases many of the book’s practices on Guidelines for Measuring Relationships in Public Relations by Dr. Linda Chilers Hon and Dr. James E Grunig, a report that covers various relationship dimensions such as trust, satisfaction, commitment, and so on, and offers a tool by which to measure them in the form of a questionnaire.
This provides both consistency and a bit of redundancy to the book. On the upside, it’s great to see a consistent approach to applied to such varied measurement tasks as events, employee satisfaction, speaking engagements, local community, crisis management, thought leadership, sales channels, nonprofits, and academia. After this approach is applied to a handful of the above, however, you get the picture and I must admit the repetitiveness caused me to gloss over a few of the later chapters. The approach, however, is a solid one.
Embracing my Inner Statistician
Historically, I’ve never been a stats geek. I took a stats class in college and was bored to tears. It was just never something that appealed to me. Diving deep into Google Analytics for both Mightybytes and clients, however, I’ve found myself intrigued (and admittedly sometimes even a little obsessed) with how powerful good analytics reporting and measurement can be for an organization. It was great to read a book that takes a step back from all the bounce rates, funnel paths, and unique site visits to provide context for why all this data is so important and how best to put it to work in making informed business decisions. Have you read it? What did you think?