Behavior > Metrics

We need to drive engagement.

Have you heard that? Maybe it wasn’t those exact words. Maybe you were told we need more traffic. Maybe it was to increase the time-on-site.

Maybe you’re the one who said it?

In a world rich with data and where the feeling of control is so rare, metrics are comforting anchors. It’s good to know what score we need to earn an A+.

But there is a dark side to metrics and it corrupting our work. There is the famous quote “What gets measured gets managed.” And from my years in the workforce, that is certainly true to a fault. And that is the point. People work to the number and lose sight of the actual goal.

We see that even in the school system, where students study to the test but don’t learn or master the concept. Or teacher’s job security is dependent on standardized testing results, so they “teach the test.”

Or, in a business example, the number of cold calls is a weak proxy for the number of meaningful conversations being had. Plus, it can be gamed.

Using “best practice” metrics on our projects is another mistake. Just google anything about KPIs and you’ll see a long list of measurements every marketer/project manager/whoever should be tracking.

Going back to our schooling analogy, it would be reasonable to think that more studying delivers better results. (1) It’s not true, and (2) we’ve all experienced the result of being forced to study a subject we don’t like. It kills curiosity.

Take “time on site” for example. The amount of time someone spends on a social media platform is good, the amount of time they spend in a check-out flow is bad.

Who does that help?

Save yourself.

When you plan in 2021, define success by a behavior change and not a metric.

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