Beyond Channel Program Buzzwords: Differences Among Measurement, Metrics, KPIs & More

By: Danny Ready
business man holding ipad with analytics icons

Metrics. Measures. KPIs. Forecasting. Diagnostic. Predictive. Prescriptive. There are a lot of words that are often used somewhat interchangeably in the analytics space. Actual meaning may have gone by way of buzzwords. Put that aside and instead focus on the better question: What can be measured, monitored and optimized in order to help you achieve your core business goals?

Let’s start with a basic distinction between metrics and KPIs. What’s the difference? The answer lies in the latter letters of the acronym: performance indicator. It’s often forgotten that the name itself implies attention on a future state. Metrics are often read-outs of the present. Instead of “Where are we?” KPIs shift the question to, “Where will we be?”

For example, one client was waiting until October or November to get an idea of where they would end the year in relation to their goals—way too late to change course. Once we moved them from metrics to future-focused performance indicators, they were able to know as early as March or April instead.

As with all business challenges, visibility is half the battle. If you can see it, you can counter it.

Start by Establishing KPIs

No matter the goal, it’s best to build your strategy around the simple idea of how we can best assist our clients. What can be measured? Instead of out-of-the-box sets of metrics and standardized lists, we put in the time to diagnose business issues and present solutions for how we can assist. The goal is to translate business needs (for example, increasing revenue or market share) into a measurable goal we can prove to directly impact. Take time to develop specific KPIs that can proactively measure the program’s impact.

Depending on the level of data transparency they have in the channel, what connection they have to different channel partners and what specific goals the program has, this is different for every client. Rather than fit programs into a pre-existing box, we build a unique set of KPIs that can change and adapt with the business over time. With our existing channel expertise, we’re able to guide the discussion and talk about how we’ve overcome similar challenges in the past, while still leaving room to capture what makes your business unique.

Next, Shift Gaze to the Future

Once you’ve established these KPIs, the next step is to move into a new phase of monitoring—shifting the gaze from the present to the future. Instead of diagnosing problems that are already happening, your time is better spent looking to what the future holds and working to fix future challenges before they even occur. This is done through ensuring alignment with all of our strategy and tactics. ITA Group is in a unique position where things are typically done in-house. This means that one consistent message is portrayed from top to bottom—in marketing messaging, strategy discussions and data solutions. This allows us to brainstorm a full solution to any problem that may be identified by our KPIs.

Finally, Iterate & Optimize

Lastly, there must be an ongoing process of optimization in place. In addition to identifying future issues, data visibility allows you to test and tweak each part of the program. No matter your channel expertise, there’s always room for improvement with any particular program.

Look for a partner that actively pursues both easy and difficult ways to squeeze every last drop of value out of your investment. At ITA Group, we take an active role in finding value wherever the data leads us.  

Each of the three phases of measurement, monitoring and optimization don’t live in a vacuum. Rather, they’re a constant, ongoing process. As your business and your industry changes, here are few questions to keep in mind:

  • What new data could be explored?
  • Are there any factors that affect performance that aren’t currently captured in your data?
  • What new strategies and tactics can be designed that measurably move the needle on your KPIs?

These aren’t questions that we ask ourselves once a year during a performance review—they are persistent and always top-of-mind.

This type of data strategy leads to an ongoing partnership that, like a fine wine, gets better and better with time. After starting with a strong foundation built off of our proven expertise, we never stop trying to find new ways to improve. As we gain more intimate knowledge of your business and how it operates, we’re able to find new optimizations that simply cannot be found by an off-the-shelf style program.

Get Better Visibility Today

If you’re struggling to gain visibility into your future (or present!), worried that you're running a bloated non-optimized program or are unsatisfied with an off-the-shelf one-size-fits-all approach to data, reach out and let us show you why our custom-crafted engagement solutions will align, motivate and inspire all your channel partners!

Feeling data rich but insights poor? Data visualization is a great window into what your channel partners are up to and how your channel program is operating. Click the case study below and see how we provided actionable data at a client’s fingertips to quickly react and adjust to the market.

Danny Ready
Danny Ready

Danny received a Marketing Degree from Loras College and his MBA from the University of Northern Iowa. He has worked as a data analyst in several industries, including Health & Wellness, Insurance, Healthcare, and Game Development before coming to ITA Group and tackling Channel Incentive programs. With such a diverse background, Danny has solved problems with data in a multitude of ways, and is always trying to innovate and learn something new! In his downtime, you can find him taste-testing his newest rum or studying strategies for the newest game (board or video) that he has acquired.