Data Driven KPIs: How to Make Data-Driven Adjustments to Hit Your Targets

By Jessica Wishart

Data-Driven Adjustments

For many CEOs and executive leaders, the idea of having a system in place to allow you to see where Data-Driven Adjustmentsyou are off-track with the company’s goals or heading for a train-wreck so you can make adjustments before it is too late sounds appealing. Having a dashboard where you track KPIs is a great way to accomplish this, but in order to make the right adjustments to hit your goals, you need to follow a process to set yourself up for success—having the dashboard isn’t enough.

Simply seeing that the numbers aren’t coming in the way you had hoped won’t automatically fix the problem. Once your dashboards alert you to a problem or opportunity, you have to do the work necessary to course-correct and hit your goal. You need to be clear about your goal; you need to identify the levers that could potentially help you get there; and you need to gather the necessary data, have the right discussions, and make adjustments along the way.

Because we use our own methodology (and because it’s easiest to write about what you know), I’ll share an example with you from our own marketing team here at Rhythm Systems. In addition to contributing content to our blog, I also manage the blog as a strategic asset for our company. Our blog has a couple main objectives: 1) to provide education and insights to our customers and subscribers and 2) to allow people who may benefit from our system to find us and learn more. As a marketing team, we looked at the data and faced the brutal facts; we realized that we weren’t getting as many new contacts from our blog as we needed to hit our goals. When we started blogging back in 2011, it was still a relatively new inbound marketing strategy; now, everyone has a blog, and what we were used to doing was no longer enough. We had to make some adjustments. 

Here’s the process we used to make data-driven adjustments:

  1. Begin with the End in Mind. What are you trying to accomplish or solve? What’s the business challenge or opportunity? You need to be clear about your goals from the beginning. This will help you set your targets or results KPIs. There are SO many things you can measure—so much data at your fingertips—so you need to be clear about what you are going to focus on and cut out the noise. For us, we use HubSpot and Google Analytics, so we have more information than we could possibly digest coming at us. Our goal was simple, though: We wanted to increase the number of contacts coming to our website. If we were going to hit our sales goals, we needed our digital marketing engine to produce a certain number of new contacts on a predictable basis—every week, every month, every quarter. Rather than getting lost in a sea of data, we picked a target number; we wanted to increase the “Number of New Contacts Weekly” from our blog. You may have a few different results KPIs to track for your business challenge or opportunity, but to keep it simple, I’ll focus on this one.
  2. Start Collecting Data. We put our results KPIs on a dashboard. Then, we had to identify a few potential Leading Indicator KPIs or levers that we wanted to push to be able to hit those numbers. Based on our analysis of the historical data, we had a few different levers that we were going to test for a quarter to try to improve our blog’s performance. Here are few examples of the things we tried to get more new contacts:
    • Being more specific about our audience—talking straight to CEOs and C-level leaders
    • Updating older posts that were getting lots of traffic but not a lot of conversions
    • Testing a variety of CTA types—text, new image buttons, and slide-outs
    • Testing a variety of formats—more images, video, SlideShare, infographics, etc.
  3. Educate the team. We’re very fortunate to have a team of talented people who contribute content to our blog. We had to bring the whole team up to speed on what we were trying to accomplish so that we could leverage our blog more strategically. One of our core values is Keep Smart, and we have a weekly learning hour for our whole company where we get together to learn from each other, mostly about our work with clients but also about other topics. My colleague Ted and I took some of this team training time to share our goals for the blog with the team. We let them know what we were going to be doing behind the scenes as well as what we needed them to do. I followed up with a specific email to each writer asking for blogs on a few topics and sharing the results for their recently published posts (how many views and contacts we got on each one). Now we had the data—and so did the team.
  4. Make adjustments along the way. A few of the strategies we tested turned out to be bright spots that we could replicate across other blog posts. For example, we included some links at the bottom of our most popular KPI blog to other KPI blogs, and we saw that it had a big impact on people staying longer on our site and increased the likelihood that they would choose to share their email address with us. When we saw that this was working well, we did it with other topics, too. Some of the things we tested didn’t turn out to be successful, so we were able to stop working on those things and re-focus our limited energy on the adjustments that were getting us better results. Continuing to monitor our KPIs and meeting regularly in our blog think rhythm helped us to make smarter decisions about what to focus on.
  5. Celebrate successes. After a quarter, we had some early indications that our adjustments were working and our number of new contacts was increasing at a faster pace, so we wanted to celebrate with the team! Because we’re a small but mighty team, we wanted to celebrate in a way that helped us continue to get better, so we planned a Blog Award Celebration for our company monthly meeting. Since we were shifting our strategic focus to creating more ever-green, compounding content for our blog, we decided to celebrate each blogger’s highest performing posts of all time…a “Greatest Hits” compilation. To make it fun, we came up with categories for each person’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction and photoshopped their headshots onto famous artists. We had lots of good laughs, and each blogger got to see which of their posts had been most successful over time so they can replicate that success in the future.

Now that we’ve created our predictable engine for generating new contacts from the blog, we can move on to tackle our next marketing goal and make new data-driven adjustments. Maybe we’ll try to increase subscribers or get more inbound links to increase our domain authority. Whatever we choose to focus on next, we’ll follow our process to make the right data-driven adjustments. You can follow the process, too, and let us know the results you're able to achieve!

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Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images 

Jessica Wishart


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images