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Creative KPIs: Three ways any organization can set data-driven goals

Data, data, data.

Sometimes, it seems like it’s all you hear about in the marketing and communications world these days.

But here’s the fact of the matter: Many organizations out there, regardless of the trends taking place in the world, aren’t actually “data-driven” (at least not as we traditionally think of them).

So what are organizations that aren’t driven by straightforward metrics like profits – I’m looking at you charities and non-profits – to do in the world of big data?

The short answer: Lots!

Here are three ways you can set data-driven goals even if your organization doesn’t regularly work with data.

1. Attach a number to your goals

Every organization – regardless of how data-driven it is – has goals. For many, such as for-profit businesses, those goals are easily translatable to data-driven targets: Revenue, sales or memberships, profit, and so on.

For others, it’s still possible to attach a data-based target to specific goals. You just need to get creative!

Let’s say an organization has set a goal to grow brand awareness. It might be possible to set some targets related to how effective it is at expanding its awareness.

Something like total number of website visitors would do the trick. The idea here is that, if you have a certain number of people visiting your site, it’s a sure sign that your brand awareness has grown.

There are a number of other possibilities – for instance, social media followers – but the principle is the same: By getting creative, you can attach a data-driven KPI to any goal.

2. Consider your outputs

Pretty much every organization produces something. For some, it might be a product such as shoes or video games. For others, it might be reports or articles.

The point is this: Those “outputs” can be great opportunities for setting data-driven goals.

Why are they so valuable? Because, frequently, what we produce is closely tied to our success.

If we produce more blog posts, we’re likely to get more website visitors. If we post more frequently on social media, we’re likely to get more followers. If we reach out to more prospects, we’re likely to make more sales.

Now, outputs aren’t perfect. It’s entirely possible for us to produce more and still have next to no impact.

For example: A non-profit could produce a ton of blog posts for its website. But if no one is looking at them (or not spending enough time with them or not absorbing the right information) then those blog posts aren’t going to be useful for driving underlying goals of increasing awareness.

So it may not be ideal. But for an organization looking to set data-driven targets, it can be a good start.

3. Look for ways to measure impact

“Impact” is frequently difficult to measure, let alone quantify.

We do X, then Y happens. Who’s to say X was the cause of Y?

But there are areas to which non-data driven organizations can look to see the impact they are having by effecting change in the world.

Let’s go back to our non-profit example. An organization could measure the number of times influencers they are trying to reach mention them or their ideas on social media.

It would be difficult to say for sure that actions the organization took drove interest from key influencers. But in lieu of other options, it might be the best available data point to measure.


You can still be data-driven even if you don’t regularly deal in data. By looking at your goals, considering your outputs and measuring your impact you can enter the world of the data-driven.

Mark Brownlee is a digital marketing strategist in Ottawa, Canada.

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