Years ago I used to be crazy about running. My strength and passion was in track and field where I competed in the 100m hurdles and sprint, but in the off season I dedicated my time to training with the cross country team. Besides the fact that I was a pathetic long distance runner, it was a huge mistake.Why?Rather than building up the muscle groups that would improve my sprint, I neglected them and gained muscles that were counterproductive to meeting my objective of cutting down my average time.
When reporting, that same gluttonous need to do it all, or measure it all, sometimes rears it’s ugly head. Even if we can measure every single metric available, should we? Or will it be just as detrimental as long distance running to sprinters?
The challenge is that, as marketers, we feel the need to take in every metric. We sometimes act as data hoarders, carefully analysing and measuring everything – simply because we’re afraid that if we don’t, we’ll miss that one valuable insight that might turn all our efforts around. However, this doesn’t do anyone on our team any good. In fact, it is hazardous to our productivity, may overwhelm us and actually draw our attention away from insights that truly matter.
It is easy to deliver every piece of data available, but you’ll quickly tire of scrolling through endless KPIs and graphs. At Sweetspot we follow best practices fromThe Red Book of Dashboard Design. This guide was put together after many years of working with enterprise and agency dashboard consumers to help them get the information they need to make the most impactful decisions.
So, to combat overindulgence in metrics and graphs, I’d like to expand on a few useful pointers from the Red Book:
An Agency once told me that they generate 200 page reports, weekly, for each one of their clients. After checking if I’d heard them correctly, our conversation quickly turned into how many insights they were able to find and how useful those reports were for their team and clients. Their answer was just as you might expect, “not many”. In 200 pages, you’d think there would be something, even a little bit of a hint, but who has time to diligently go through a 200 page report weekly?
Time is valuable, and attention spans are short, so reports should be just long enough to include the indicators that actually contribute value by answering whether or not we are meeting our objectives. Avoid the urge to deliver lengthy reports and make scrolling your enemy, the longer the scroll the quicker data consumers are likely to check-out while reviewing reports.