Let’s say you asked all the right questions before getting started. You followed the best practices. Your technical team has deployed a solution that works. Reports and analytics are pouring out of the system. Now is the moment of truth. It’s time for action.
What do you do? How do you start?
One of the simplest techniques to get started is the “3 layers of so what” test. Avinash Kaushik talks about it in his book “Web Analytics an hour a day”
Ask every metric, report, or nugget of analytic insight that comes your way – “so what?” three times. Each question provides an answer that in turn typically raises another question (a “so what?” again). If at the end of the third question you don’t get a recommendation for action, you have the wrong metric/report.
Here is an example of the so what test:
- Sales are up month over month compared to last year. So what?
- This shows that our XYZ campaign may be having a positive outcome. So what?
- Perhaps we should try a similar campaign in ABC region where sales are down or reallocate additional funds to sustain this campaign longer. So what?
At this point, it’s time to test the XYZ campaign hypotheses and the select between one of the alternative courses of action. In other words, we have arrived at actionable next steps!
Most metrics that organizations report on fall into 3 categories. The nice to know, sounds important, or looks cool category. Such vanity metrics have limited value. Ultimately, we want to answer business questions and allow us to take action – do more of something, less of of something or perhaps do it in an improved way. Without this bias towards action, you will be leaving money on the table.