Four Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Any Data Measurement Plan

If you’ve ever participated in anything that involved a performance – sports, playing an instrument, dancing, singing, etc. – you’ve probably heard the phrase, “practice makes perfect.” Vince Lombardi, the first coach in the NFL to win a Super Bowl, once said, “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”

I tend to agree with Lombardi here. Aimlessly practicing random tasks will not get you to the next level in your craft. However, targeted practice most certainly will. If you look at his statement with a general lens, Mr. Lombardi is essentially saying that in practice, you should be taking a goal-oriented approach; identify your goals, then focus on the skills that help you reach them.

So what does all this have to do with data?

Try taking a goal-oriented approach with data collection. With the proliferation of data collection and data analysis platforms, there isn’t a digital action that you can’t capture. Do you want to know who and how many people saw your digital ad, clicked it, and performed the desired user action?

It might sound granular, but you can easily find the answers to all these questions with your most basic analytics platform installation. However, just like more practice, more data isn’t necessarily better; especially when you’re not collecting it the right way.  If there was a Lombardi of data analysis, I’m sure he would say something like, “More data is not better. Only more quality data is better.”

So how do you know you have quality data?

Ask yourself the following four questions when thinking about the implementation of a tracking plan and what exactly you want to report on:

1. Why do I need this data?

This question is pretty basic, but you’d be surprised how difficult it can be to find the answer. There needs to a reason for collecting the data you’re asking for. There can be several answers to this question, so the trick is to identify the best one. Tip: Use this question as your first line of defense; an answer to this question doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth reporting on, but it’s a good way to weed out extraneous reporting.

2. Who needs this data?

This is more important than you might think. Different end users have different needs. For example, a manager is likely only interested in top-line metrics, while a digital marketer will want to dig a little deeper . If you’re generating reports, it’s important to keep all of your audiences in mind.

3. What am I going to do with this data?

In my opinion, this is the most important question. Your data should be collected as either a key performance indicator (to find out if what you’re doing is working), or a driver to inform future efforts (how this information will help you generate a better outcome in the future). Often these two situations go hand-in-hand.

The word to keep in mind while answering this question is,  ‘actionable.’ Data shouldn’t just be a number on a page that you glance at and forget about, it should be a building block to lay the foundation for efforts moving forward.

4. How will I track this data?

As noted earlier in this post, you can really track anything online these days. So the question here isn’t about the possibility of tracking, it’s about  finding the best way track the data in a way that makes it easy to report on. Taking time to apply custom tracking allows you to waste less energy ‘cleaning up’ the data after exporting as you scale your efforts. Tip: Be sure to think about how you want your end report to look, and work backwards from there.

Learn the basics for setting up Google Analytics to collect data from your website with our eBook, “Measure What Matters: Five Features to Enable Now On Google Analytics.”

If you have more any questions about addressing your data measurement plan, we’re here to help.

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