Warning: this content is older than 365 days. It may be out of date and no longer relevant.

One of the things I do in my work at SHIFT Communications is help companies develop measurement and metrics strategies, figuring out what matters and what doesn’t. The core criteria that makes a metric worth inclusion in any strategy is this: can I change it?


For example, organic, non-paid search traffic is a metric where you know how it works, and thus you know how to change it. Search engine ranking factors are widely available. If you do more of the things that work into search engine algorithms – great content, inbound links, social shares, earned media, etc. – then you can affect the metric of organic, non-paid search traffic and make it go up or down.

Another example, one that you might not want to include as an actionable metric, is retail sales when you’re not the seller. While you have control over what happens in terms of brand awareness and sentiment, if the seller puts your product in the back of the store at the bottom of the shelf next to the restroom cleaning supplies, then your sales will suffer no matter how good your marketing is. Certainly, you should report on retail sales as a goal and as a revenue number, but it’s not part of your core metrics strategy because you can’t truly affect it directly.

It’s important to separate your reporting into two broad categories: metrics I can directly affect, and metrics I can’t directly affect. When you execute your marketing strategy, put more of your effort on the first bucket and less of your effort on the second.

You might also enjoy:

Want to read more like this from Christopher Penn? Get updates here:

subscribe to my newsletter here

AI for Marketers Book
Get your copy of AI For Marketers

Analytics for Marketers Discussion Group
Join my Analytics for Marketers Slack Group!

Subscribe to My Free Weekly Newsletter

Subscribe to My Free Weekly Newsletter

Sign up now to the free Almost Timely Newsletter, released every weekend with the latest news about marketing, technology, analytics, data science, and AI.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

You have successfully subscribed to the Almost Timely Newsletter!