What Metrics to Measure: Numbers vs. Insights

The saying goes: The numbers don’t lie. There’s also a quote popularized by Mark Twain that says, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Hmmm… so which is it? Well, I think it is all in how you approach it. Let’s get into numbers vs. insights.

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Defining Metrics

Metrics are part of Google Analytics. Well then, what are we even talking about here? That’s just it: Metrics are the information set we look at, whereas analytics implies analysis and decision making. But in my experience, most of the time we don’t make it past the metrics to get to the good stuff, the insights.

It’s hard to slow down and take some focused time to dig into the numbers. There’s always something else that needs to be done and certainly something urgent that comes up. Also, our mindset when reviewing our metrics ends up determining how useful we can make them.

Our tendency is to come at metrics with the idea that they are a “business report card.” When we do, we get bought into pass/fail (and maybe some comparinoia) and miss all the actual analytics (analysis and decision making) and insights.

The Purpose of Reports

The point of reports is to assist in presenting the metrics so that the analysis can take place and decisions can be made. Metrics are the basis for Analytics. Just because it’s called a report, don’t let it fool you into thinking it contains grades. It contains clues.

And like any analysis activity in your business, reviewing your metrics and reports requires dedicated time and mental space so that you can really follow the clues and discover the insights.

This is why it’s crucial to ensure that metrics and reports are viewed and treated as treasure maps in our businesses.

The Clues in Your Treasure Map

Is the structure of your reports and your report reviewing process set up to help you reveal the hidden clues in your treasure map?

My case for considering reports as treasure maps was further confirmed when I heard an interview of Dr. Jud Brewer, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist, talking about open vs. closed feelings. He said that sports teams use curiosity to stay in the game when they are losing. Curiosity helps keep us problem solving instead of feeling defeated and giving up.

Take 30 minutes this week and look at your reports and reporting structure. Is it set up to help invoke those open feelings of curiosity? If it doesn’t quite feel like a treasure map yet, determine 1–3 ways you can change the report and/or how you review your reports (pirate costumes are encouraged) to keep your head in the game and get the most insights from your treasure map. Then implement those changes (or have your team do it).

Look at Your Numbers in a New Way

I found even just the shift in my thinking when looking at my weekly metrics meant I didn’t avoid them in weeks that I knew we were short of our goals. It also gave the team a new way to look at the data and curiosity to search for the gold.

Metrics are a great starting point, but Analytics is how you keep uncovering the hidden treasure in your business. Yarr!Want to make smarter business decisions, spend less money on marketing trial and error, and have an overall line of sight on your business health and growth? We can help. Our analytics and reporting service Insight Pro is a done-for-you service to properly set up metrics in your business and serve them up to you so you can use the metrics that matter to your success. Contact us to learn more!

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