We have successfully made it through our first year on our Community and we are beginning to asses our success criteria for 2015. In 2014, we decided to look at page views and new memberships as success criteria and we met our goal. Going forward - is that the best way to evaluate success in a Community? Obviously, there is community health overall and other forms of "sucess" that I look at for myself - but not exactly from a KPI perspective. How do you measure success for your Community from a KPI perspective?
Success is a tough measure @cs1991 .
Lithium's answer is normally that it depends on what your business goals are etc. Which makes a lot of sense, but it's good to remember that the community is a part of the business not the entire one. Some of our metrics are other peoples responsibility.
For me, there's a few different things I've looked at over time. Because the success of the community can be measured by either "how well are we working towards our goals", or "how well are we working with the options available to us".
Things like new registrations drive your other metrics. If you aimed for 10,000 new registrations for the year and 500k page views, did you hit both? But if you failed to meet the registration figure, did you really fail the page views? Or did you hit the same ratio of page views to registrations?
The relationship between metrics is an important one for me.
I keep a close eye on the replies to topics ratio, average sessions per user, time online vs posts.
For our users I watch closely on kudos given vs received, solutions to post ratio, solutions to topics, logins to posts.
There's numbers we chase, and I've got my own KPI's to hit. But how figures relate to one another is where it gets specific to us. In our retail stores we measure people on their conversion rate to customers spoken to, not on how many people enter the store.
Worth considering if you're wanting to measure how many people come into your community, or have that as one of the metrics, but dig deeper and measure yourselves against what you do with them when they get there.
Last year, we put so much focus on getting new members that we stopped focusing on quality within the Community - that ultimately put a damper on our end metrics when we look at our active members.
I think if we're honest, every community has been through this.
You chase the goal and miss something else. Because we can reach for the stars, but we have to trade something else off for it.
Our metrics are the stars, so you can either put all your effort into building a ladder towards one of them and not towards the others. Or you can build a platform. It'll get you closer to all of them, but not all the way there on any of them.
You need to assess what you WANT, and then find the behaviours that hit that goal, and then measure the metrics for those.
Is it the high member count? Is it a lot of posts? Are you looking for deflection of calls? Start at the other end.
Do you feel that it is acceptable to change the measures of success? Or to keep them going year-over-year? If so, has it ever been difficult to convey the changes in success criteria to management?
It's definitely acceptable to change the measures. As your community becomes more mature you gain new insights, new perspective. You know things you didn't know before. Some of them you could have learned from another community, and some of them are unique to you and your customers.
It can be incredibly difficult to explain changes in criteria to management. Remember to drop irrelevant information. Many parts of the business don't need to know why post to solution ratio matters. Just like you don't need to know why 14 day terms for suppliers work better than 7 day ones.
Focus on your goals, share the outcome you're hoping for and briefly explain that the metrics being monitored are those that chase that goal.
And numbers we share are never in isolation. If you share a metric, you need to be prepared to celebrate WHY it increased, and to explain why it decreased.
If you want to change metrics for success, do it. And the answer is "Here's our goals for this year. Here's the stats that demonstrate that success in a quantifiable way".
As previously touched on, it really depends on your business goals. But I think just focusing on registrations and page views probably doesn't capture what you should be focused on in Year 2. You correctly identify your ultimate goal as engagement. But you're probably not achieving your goals even if you have a community that is successfully encouraging lots of people to visit and getting them to sign up if they are then leaving without contributing to the community. So I would add some activity-based metrics to your registration and page views KPIs. That could include number of posts, accepted solutions if you're a support community, number of people reaching higher ranks (superusers), response times, etc.