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Business Intelligence Skills

How to Build a Measurement Plan

7 min readView all articles
By John Pauler
Dec 22, 2021

When you are first starting out in a data career, you are likely thinking of yourself as a "junior" team member, and others are probably thinking of you this way too.

Then at some point, you break through that designation, and start to be viewed as someone who is more "senior"... competent, experienced, forward-thinking.

When you get the "senior" label, whether in your official title or just in coworkers' heads, they start talking to you differently.

Instead of just asking you to pull the data (how we all start) they'll begin asking you for your thoughts, and your advice. They'll loop you in earlier, to more projects, and you'll start to be a proactive member of the team, helping to drive new initiatives from the onset.

So how to you earn that "senior" label?

There are a number of ways you can do this.

One of most effective and quickest ways to set yourself apart from more junior analysts, and to demonstrate that you have this "more senior" strategic ability, is by mastering the art of measurement planning...

4 Step Measurement Planning Framework

Why measurement planning?

Any time a company launches a new initiative, they need to be thinking about the project's goals, and how they are going to measure results, optimize performance, and drive future success. That's measurement planning.

Smart companies make measurement planning something that happens early on in the life cycle of a project, so this can be your ticket to being asked to join the discussion at the strategic planning phase.

Check out these two typical conversations between a marketing leader and an analyst...

The junior conversation
(after the campaigns have run)

Boss: hey Analyst, could you pull me the revenue per email open from the last 3 campaigns we've run? I'm looking to understand performance.

Analyst: sure thing! Here's the data you asked for.

The senior conversation
(happens earlier, before the campaigns have run)

Boss: hey Analyst, we're about to launch a series of email campaigns. I'd love to get your input on how we should be measuring success and making sure we're set up to capture all the metrics we need to evaluate perfromance. Do you have bandwidth to help?

Analyst: absolutely! It sounds like these emails are meant to be revenue-generating. So I'd recommend we use revenue per email sent as our key performance indicator. Additionally, we should look at open rates, clickthrough rates, and monitor what happens on the site post-click so we can understand major dropoff points to optimize for future campaigns. I'll work with the team and make sure we can track all of this before the capaigns go out.

See the difference?

Which one of these people do you want to be?

Who do you think the boss is more likely to turn to with a new, mission critical project the company is about to launch?

Who do you think gets paid more?

Okay, you get it. Obviously it's more fun to be the senior.

But maybe you're saying... "they don't loop me in before at the planning stage, they only ask me to pull the data. So I feel stuck."

I hear you. I've been there myself.

Here's one way you can pivot that initial junior conversation, by using your measurement planning expertise (in this case, knowing the appropriate KPIs to judge performance).

The same junior conversation, with a senior pivot
(again, after the campaigns have run)

Boss: hey Analyst, could you pull me the revenue per email open from the last 3 campaigns we've run? I'm looking to understand performance.

Analyst: hey Boss, I'm glad to help. I understand your primary goal is to maximize revenue with these emails. Revenue per email open is a great metric for judging the body of the email, but revenue per email sent is a little better for overall success, because it also takes into account how good the subject lines are at getting the recipient to open the email. I'll pull revenue per email sent as the main KPI, and we can also take a look at open rates, clickthrough rates, revenue per open, and some other on-site metrics, to understand full funnel performance and optimize each step for future campaigns. How does that sound?

Boss: Analyst, when you put it that way, it makes perfect sense. Thank you. We're also about to launch another round of campaigns, and I'd like to loop you into our planning conversation so you can help us make sure we're looking at all the right metrics from day 1.

All of this will feel like second nature if you become a master of measurement planning. And again, doing this is one of the quickest ways you can distinguish yourself from other junior analysts.

The best part? It's really not that complicated.

Today, we'll hold your hand through the process, sharing our 4 step framework for building measurement plans that will meet the goals of the company and major stakeholders, and help you measure and optimize performance to take your business to new heights.

The first step may sound obvious, but you might be surprised how often us data people start diving right into the database before pausing to think deeply about the business first.

Don't fall into this trap. Spend some time pretending you aren't a data person, and think like the P&L owner for a minute. After you've answered the key business questions, then you'll be better prepared to start thinking about how your data expertise can support the company's goals.

Measurement Planning Step 1 - Think Business First

After you've nailed the key business questions, next you'll want to think about the audience for your measurement plan.

Who's running this project? Will they be the primary stakeholder for the eventual reporting you create?

What are their goals for the initiative?

What are incentives and motivators?

How can you make sure your work best serves them?

If there are additional people involved, ask similar questions for them.

Measurement Planning Step 2 - Know Your Audience

After you've thought about the business and the key stakeholders for your measurement plan, now you're finally ready to think about the metrics.

For the main goals you've identified, think about how you can translate them into a single measurable outcome, and define key perfromance indicators.

For example, if you're talking about a call center and your goal is to have happy customers, you might look at the average ratings given durign a post-call customer satisfaction survey.

Do this for each goal, and make sure you have solid definitions for each of the KPIs that support the goals of the business and your stakeholders.

Measurement Planning Step 3 - Define the KPIs

Now that you've got KPIs for your goals, with solid definitions, you're ready to turn to execution mode. This is where the rubber meets the road.

For each of your well-defined KPIs, list out the data you'll need to gather in order to track performance of the campaign.

Hopefully you have most of it available already, but there may be some gaps. Getting ahead of this early on, and staying organized, can help you fill in your data so that you can execute fully on your measurement plan.

We recommend keeping some sort of a shared document (Google sheets is awesome... that's what we do) where you list out your data needs, including the critical metrics, data sources, owners of those data sources, refresh frequency, and any caveats worth noting that may change your interpretation of important points.

Measurement Planning Step 4 - Identify Data Sources

I know this may sound like a lot, but if you follow the framework, and take it step by step, it's really not too painful. And your results will be A+!

Below is a quick summary of the things you should be keeping in mind. If you can nail these 4 things and put your skills on display, it's a great way to establish yourself with that "senior"-level respect that can help you grow your career.

Measurement Planning - Key Takeaways

I can't stress enough how important mastering measurement planning is, and I would recommend everyone try to tackle this as early in your career as possible.

If you want to build your skills here, there are a few ways I can recommend, but the short answer is "PRACTICE!"...

  1. Look for opportunities to practice measurement planning on the job.

  2. Check out our Thinking Like an Analyst course, which covers measurement planning in detail, including an in-depth case study that forces you to think through a real world scenario.

  3. If you aren't enrolled in our Thinking Like an Analyst course, you can still follow a similar exercise to the one in that course. Just pick a real world or simulated real world project, and walk through the 4 steps listed above.

Hopefully you found this all useful and will have a chance to build and apply some new skills in the near future.

Happy learning!

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John Pauler

John brings over 15 years of business intelligence experience to the Maven team, having worked with companies ranging from Fortune 500 to early stage startups. As a MySQL expert, he has played leadership roles across analytics, marketing, SaaS and product teams.

John brings over 15 years of business intelligence experience to the Maven team, having worked with companies ranging from Fortune 500 to early stage startups. As a MySQL expert, he has played leadership roles across analytics, marketing, SaaS and product teams.

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