6 steps to measuring communications in practice
Everything that a company does should have measurable goals. Communications and marketing have worked without specific goals for a long time now but digitalization is slowly changing this. Planning how to measure communications has become an important part of planning communications overall. ROI that represents the relation between the investments and the outcome has become well-known in all types of oranizations. How is communications actually measured then?
1. Set goals
Planning communications starts with setting general goals. Is the objective of communications to improve your company's reputation, to change the behavior of a certain group of customers, to increase visibility or to open a new market?
The time span and target group of these goals should be defined at the same time: is the goal short-term actions inside a certain group or a more permanent change of attitude in other stakeholders? Long-term goals can also be divided into milestones that serve as checkpoints.
Goals shouldn't be defined in a vacuum but instead they should be in line with the company's strategic goals, as well as with the goals of sales, marketing and HR: is the target to reinforce the employer brand, for example, or to boost sales? It is also essential to know what the competitors are doing and what generally is happening in the industry.
2. Acquire statistics
Once the goals have been set, the next step is to think where to get the data that enables measuring whether the goals have been reached or not. Measuring tools that offer easily comparable data are sought after at this point. Google Analytics is one of the best tools for this task. With it you can measure, for example:
- Number of website visitors
- The effectiveness of different channels in redirecting to a website
- The changes in website visitor behavior
- How social media converts into customerships
- The success rate of display advertisements (e.g. banners)
- The number of visitors from different countries or using different devices
- The number of visitors that come to a website at a certain time – during a sponsored TV show, for example
- Time spent browsing content
The best way to measure different goals is to create them on the ”Goals” tab of Google Analytics. With this you can follow how well, for instance, a Twitter campaign is working: are people just interested in the content but don't turn into customers?
Social media services are usually equipped with excellent and easy-to-use analytics tools that show you the essential information quickly: how communication has worked in this certain channel, how much the content has been shared and how wide the reach of the content has been. The most important metrics are:
- Reach (how many saw)
- Virality (how many shared)
- Inclusiveness (how many did something like continued discussing the subject)
- Amount of interest (followers / likes).
At least the number of subscribers, open and click rates and the amount of shares should be monitored on the reports that can be found in newsletter tools.
Press release tools produce data about the open and click rates, as well as which journalists and publishers are interested in your press releases.
Media monitoring tools produce statistics on the topics and amount of online discussions and what the tone is – and most importantly what and how much is talked about your competitors. These tools help you track how well your press releases are picked up by the media and their virality.
3. Gain deeper understanding with quality metrics
Even though statistics can tell you a lot, changes in attitudes or increased awareness are difficult to study using numbers. When the goals are qualitative, the research methods need to be as well: customer surveys, opinion polls and attitude scans – either conducted in-house or with the help of professionals.
4. Combine data to see the big picture
Individual reports from social media analytics or the number of people who opened one newsletter don't yet tell you anything important: the big picture starts to take shape only by combining statistics from different sources.
By combining data from just a few sources already produces much more information about what was successful and what was not. Was a press release noted in the media well enough but didn't produce any discussion? The problem might have been the content or the target group of the press release. Did a TV commercial bring heaps of visitors to the website but no purchases? Maybe the goals and messages didn't meet. Did a campaign bring a lot of likes on Facebook but the attitudes towards your brand stayed the same?
It's important to remember that the purpose of communications is not communications itself – the ultimate goal is usually something else. The results of communications should be compared with the ultimate goal: making the brand more popular, making the customers more committed, event participant numbers, sales numbers or the number of acquired leads.
5. Measure consistently and continuously
You shouldn't forget the day-to-day actions in measuring communications: everyday, consistent and high-quality acts that slowly move you towards your goals. This basic level monitoring includes following the statistics of your own social media visibility, monitoring the open and click rates, following the amount and tone of online discussion that concerns you and your competitors, monitoring how your press releases are noted in the media and how successful they are and monitoring website visitor numbers, as well as other information that is essential to you.
A clear schedule of measuring should be included in your communications plan and content calendar, for example, so the important metrics are checked regularly.
There's no point in measuring communications if your practices aren't updated based on the results. When you combine communication metrics and studies, the big picture of what works starts to form: what kind of tweets get you the right kind of followers, which press releases produce quotes and requests for interviews, what kinds of headlines work for an email, and what is shared?
Would you like to know more about the monitoring services of journalistic and social media?
You can read about the possibilities on how to use media monitoring services on our blog: