By: Randi Cairns

It is quite easy to convince yourself that you need to be fully engaged and involved on every social media platform. That you need to follow every marketing expert out there. That you need to measure All. The. Things. There are two problems with that strategy: First, you don’t have time to do all that AND successfully run your business. And second, not every tool, trick, and measurement are relevant to all businesses—or even to your business all the time.

Of course, you want to be able to measure your business growth. But how do you do that strategically and in a way that results in useful information?

Decide what you will measure. Your options may feel overwhelming. There are metrics for pretty much everything—engagement, performance, retention, traffic, reach—you name it. Is information power? Yes. Is it also potentially crippling when you’ve got a million data points and no idea what to do with them? Also, yes.

Start with your goals. What does success look like for you and your business? How can you know if you’re growing or stagnant? Sales? Revenue? New customers? Social media fans? Your answer won’t be the same as that of others in a different industry or at a different stage of their company’s existence.

What will your key performance indicators (KPIs) be? In other words, what will you measure that tells you how well you’re achieving your business objectives? If you’re unsure where to start, begin with revenue (what you’re bringing in after accounting for discounts and returned merchandise), customer acquisition cost (the amount you spent on marketing divided by how many customers that yielded), and marketing return on investment (divide your marketing spend by your revenue). These three metrics will show you if your marketing activities are impacting your bottom line or if you need to think about another approach.

Plan how you’ll use the information you gather. Perhaps you’ll compare your results with competitors in your space. Gaining an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses (and overall marketing strategy) can not only give you a comparison point, but it can also help you to differentiate yourself from your competition.

More importantly, compare where you are to where you have been historically and where you want to go in terms of desired business outcomes. Are you seeing growth? Have you come up against more challenging times? Looking for trends and patterns can help you to determine if there are fluctuations in growth during a particular season, situation, or time of year.

Make the information you gather actionable. Assessing your situation without using the information you gather is a waste of valuable time and resources. So, what can you learn? Maybe you’ll see you need to revisit your social media strategy. Or that your website isn’t getting the attention it needs to. Perhaps you’ll find that you should consider changing what you charge for your products or services. It’s also entirely possible that you’ll find you’re doing all the right things and it’s still a struggle—because some world-changing event like a global pandemic has played all kinds of havoc with businesses. You won’t know what you’ll find until you look critically at what the data points tell you.

Be kind to yourself. The numbers won’t always be pretty. Every week, month, year won’t be a stellar success with wild growth unless you’re uncommonly lucky. Regardless of what you find, give yourself grace. Learn from the experience. Adjust accordingly and carry on.

You don’t measure your growth once and call it a day. It should be a constant consideration and regular conversation. And tomorrow won’t necessarily look like today.