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The impact of the digital industry: raising awareness by rethinking KPIs

by Neil Clark

4-minute read

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Part 9 of our Digital Impact blog series takes a look at how we can raise environmental awareness by rethinking KPIs.

Estimated page impact: 0.36g CO2e per page view

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are set by organisations as measurable values that demonstrate how effectively they are at achieving their key business objectives.

What I mean by rethinking KPIs is a full consideration of the impact of the KPIs we set for our digital products; both the unintended consequences as well as the intended ones. The consequence scanning exercise is a great way to identify them. 

A shift in thinking

This might be a tough conversation with some people. Marketeers. Product owners. Data analysts. Directors. Why? Because it requires a fundamental shift in thinking. This can be a significant change for people who have metrics like number of page views, time on site, bounce rate and number of pages visited ingrained in their measures of success.

To give a not particularly imaginative example, decreasing bounce rate is often something that is aspired to, as well as increasing traffic. However, what if your organisation has a support phone line which people often search Google for. People coming onto the homepage, seeing the number at the top of the page and bouncing off is a positive thing. 

To take that a step further, given that a phone number can be coded up properly for Google (and other search engines!) to recognise it, it would be better for a person who needs that number to get the phone number in the search engine results page. If searching via mobile they can just click to dial. To ensure the success of that, you might need to invest in some more SEO fundamentals like page speed and site security.   

This also has an added planetary bonus of fewer data needing to be powered around because those people aren’t visiting your site. However, that means a reduction in page views. If that statistic is viewed in isolation, the investment doesn’t look great.

Meaningful measurements

This is where you require something like Google my Business, a free resource that will give you monthly reports on the number of phone calls you’ve received and how that compares to previous months.

That’s why it’s so important to look at a more holistic view. We have to get better as teams, departments and organisations at focusing on a smaller number of meaningful measurements that are genuinely indicative of the organisation’s vision. For example, measuring the number of phone calls when your phone number is accessible via Google, or how changes to paid spend campaign keywords impact the quality of your calls. 

A shared vision

Finally, reducing the impact on the planet (not just offsetting it) is a measure that every organisation needs to have. Once this and changes to key measurements are in place, the goal should be to enable teams to work towards them collaboratively. Removing siloed objectives allows individuals to consider the shared vision, and ultimately reduce environmental impact together, rather than causing conflicts to meet individual targets.

Here, we've covered raising awareness through KPIs — next is our final article on the series, exploring raising awareness by being vulnerable.