A woman walks into her doctor’s general practice. She sits in the waiting room until the doctor calls her in. After following the doctor into the room she takes a seat and the doctor checks her blood pressure, temperature and shines a light in her eyes to check pupil dilation response times. “All good”, says the doctor. The woman goes home and tells her husband she’s healthy according to the doctors investigation. The husband replies, “But your severed finger is still bleeding”.

This is what often happens in campaign measurement. Let me explain…

I often get asked by campaign managers to give them some ‘useful metrics’ without much further context. Given nothing more than that, maybe I’d spit out some user and page view numbers. But that’s not great, is it? No.

When you go to the doctor they’ll ask you an important question: “What is the reason for your visit today”. That way they know what to investigate and it can result in action to fix you. The same principle applies when working with marketing campaign managers – the analyst needs to know the purpose of the campaign.

Ask the goals question – What are you trying to achieve?

It’s so simple. However, in my opinion you shouldn’t have to ask: Ideally this is something your stakeholders should be doing themselves before they come for metrics. So really the tricky thing is getting those stakeholders to build ‘What am I trying to achieve‘ into their processes and get the analyst in early so that they can work out a measurement plan and any custom tracking requirements. Basically, the doctor shouldn’t have to ask the patient the reason for their visit; the patient should just come out and say it! Remember that next time you’re sitting in the waiting room.