My main medical KPIs seem to be: nothing hurts, and: I'm not dead yet. I no longer mark my height on the wall every birthday. But now that I have a handful of decades on me, I do climb on the scales every day. I may never reach my ideal mass, but I do pass on desserts when things get too weighty, and feel inordinately proud when things lighten up.
When the first KPI falls below a certain threshold, I seek medical attention. First to the cupboard for an aspirin, then to the pharmacy for something stronger, and finally to the clinic to talk to a medical professional.
It seems that so many companies treat their websites the same way. As long as it's not broken, it must be working. As long as nobody is complaining, there's no need to worry. But as one progresses in age, one becomes very aware that threateningly large problems can be caught early - if only one pays attention and is willing to take action.
This is where athletes and strong commercial competitors stand above the rest of the field.
Rather than thinking of web metrics, web analytics, customer satisfaction, and the like as diagnostic tools for when things go wrong, winning companies stay in shape and work tirelessly to improve.
The automobile analogy is similar. You can either take your car in when it makes a funny noise, take it in for regularly scheduled maintenance, or wirelessly monitor your motor performance during the Indianapolis 500.
The doctor is no longer there to fix a boo-boo when it hurts, but is your in-stadium, Olympic trainer who helps you improve beyond even your expectations.
Your company's marketing analytics team can be turned to in times of need, can be conscientiously applied to a program of regular professional care, or can be the driver of continuous improvement and step-change growth in customer satisfaction and sales.
Every website is hard to use. Every call center is frustrating. Every shopping experience disappoints to some degree. But the numbers wranglers can help.
Competitive Edge by the Numbers
The best and the brightest are turning to their marketing analytics teams to segment the market, test the message, and time the delivery. Branding and product marketing are teaming up with the mathematicians to increase the specific customer satisfaction that drives sales and referrals.
Winning companies are assembling centers of analytical excellence to provide alerts, guidance, and testing techniques to ensure a product line or a service offering is communicated via the proper promotions in the proper ways.
Free your IT department from interpretation and leave them to work on data gathering, cleansing, and transformation. Free your marketing department from the heavy lifting of statistical significance and variation of parameters and leave them to brainstorm and create.
Turn your data over to the data devotees. These are the people who love to solve a problem, unravel a riddle, and pursue a hypothesis. Give them free reign to chase ideas down the rabbit hole and see them emerge with unexpected treasures.
Or, you can pat yourself on the back because nothing hurts and you're not dead...yet
Jim is off today. This column was originally published on March 31, 2011 on ClickZ.
Jim Sterne is an international consultant focused on measuring the value of the online marketing for creating and strengthening customer relationships. Sterne has written eight books on using the Internet for marketing, produces the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit and is co-founder and current chairman of the Digital Analytics Association.
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