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How to Gain Strategic Insight from Digital Metrics

Steve RappaportBy Stephen D. Rappaport

Few topics give association executives more fits than choosing metrics—the counts, percentages and ratios that are supposed to measure the performance of digital initiatives. The great majority of digital metrics put a number on tactical results—the things that campaigns encourage people to do, such as opening emails, clicking links, reading pages and viewing videos, posting and commenting, sharing, downloading content, installing apps, liking, checking-in, and friending, connecting or following.

But where is the strategic insight?

Missing in action.

The reason? Most brands and associations aim to maximize to suppliers’ metrics, such as likes or followers, rather than to their own brand objectives.

Why is that? We tend to think that metrics from social, mobile, Web or email vendors have fundamental meanings, as scientific measures do. But supplier metrics are different: They derive from their supplier business models and their assumptions about how their platform or service works. Views, likes, shares, social clicks, friends and such are really “endometrics,” as media authority and mathematician Gilles Santini calls them. These metrics describe a system in its own terms, not according to some objective standards.

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