No one wants to waste their money, do they? In business, every penny you spend must prove its worth so that you get a return on your investment and, just as importantly, so that you know where to go on investing that cash (and effort).
Great communication is no exception. Like any vital business tools, there are time and costs associated with creating your message an your brand, and getting them out there. Done well, you can increase your visibility efficiently and cost-effectively.
Hard measures are not unlike the Holy Grail in our industry, to be honest. A customer touchpoint might not deliver a tangible sale, but if it builds awareness, develops a relationship, influences your brand perception…well, then it has delivered for your business. But how do you measure this?
The single most important thing is this: you have to be clear what you want to achieve.
As with every aspect of business communication, if your end goals aren’t clear then your approach may be piece-meal or scattergun. With clarity about your outcomes, you can be laser-focused in what you do and what you measure.
Do you want to build awareness and get your new brand or product ‘out there’, or is it all about the sales? Perhaps you want to overturn a false perception…become known as an influencer in a crowded market…change people’s minds…generate more leads…attract more website or footfall traffic.
You need to know this, or your measures are likely to tell you falsehoods. To paraphrase a famous quote often credited to Einstein: if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life failing to deliver what you expect of it – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t doing a great job of swimming about. And if you only measure your sales figures, you might just miss the impact your communication is having on your brand awareness.
Accepting that your measurement must reflect your communication objectives, here are a few measurement tactics you could consider:
ASK YOUR MARKET
We’ve talked in previous blogs about how to ask your customers and potential customers what they need – but why not also ask them what they think of your communications?
SUGGESTED READING: Get to know your audience and grow your business
Customer research can take several forms, from the basic survey to the detailed conversation.
Surveys are great to measure the impact of a campaign, particularly if you run a quick measure before and after so you can see what progress you have made. They allow you to reach more people in a short timeframe, but the results you get back will be relatively two-dimensional.
If you have more time, or with a much smaller number of people, you will find that ‘discovery conversations’ can go deeper and act as a goldmine of insight. For example – how did they hear about you? What did they like about your content? Did they find you easy to find? How did your communication make them feel? What did they feel inspired to think, feel and do when they saw your brand and your message?
Be brave enough to ask them also what they didn’t like. Sometimes people won’t be able to articulate exactly what didn’t resonate…but you might be able to find out if a particular wording fell flat, for example, or if the timing was an issue.
INTERROGATE YOUR WEBSITE TRAFFIC
Where are your visitors coming from? Are they using a search engine to find you, or clicking through from a social media platform?
Are your website visitors calling in from around the world, or are they in a particular time zone that you can better match in the future?
Crucially, what do they do once they have arrived on your site? Do they stay and browse, or glance and go? Depending on the analytics available to you, check how long they stay, the pages they click through to, how much they read. This will help you improve your website to maximise the traffic, perhaps by increasing your signposting or by guiding potential customers through a series of micro actions and commitments.
CHECK YOUR EMAIL RESPONSE
Technology is mind-blowingly clever now, and even broadcast channels can tell us something in their data analytics. Is your email list ignoring you, listening passively, or engaging with you?
For example, do your email recipients even open your emails? And if they do, do they always open them or only the ones that have a certain kind of offer or particular key words in your subject line?
If they open your emails, do they take any action such as clicking your embedded links? Do they act within a certain timeframe?
Is their email behaviour changing over time? Fir example, are they warming to you as they get to know you, or are they getting bored and turned off by your email content or frequency?
Changes in data regulations have helped to influence much better subscription services, so why not add a very fast and easy exit survey to your unsubscribe button?
ENGAGE WITH YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA BEHAVIOURS
Several of the major social media platforms offer inbuilt analytics that show you reach and engagement, and there are some very good online tools that you can connect to your social media platforms for wider analysis. Knowing how people choose to interact with you is vital.
It’s a fair assumption to say that most people are overwhelmed by social media traffic, and it speaks volumes if someone chooses to use their previous time engaging with you.
Look for the clues in your engagement puzzle – such as number of comments, click-throughs from any buttons you’ve added, likes, shares and retweets, use of hashtags and so on. Take some time to dig deeper than the pure stats – read your comments, see what people are saying to you (and engage with them – though that’s a whole other blog!)
If name or brand visibility is your objective, then reach may be enough – but this is a great example of why you need absolute clarity on your communication goals.
TALLY UP YOUR CASH REGISTER
Don’t be squeamish about hard cash when it comes to measuring your communication impact and effectiveness.
Of course it’s true that you need to be visible, credible and likeable. Of course people need to understand how you can help them, or why they need your product. Of course people need to believe you know your stuff and are the right provider or partner for them.
But ultimately, businesses survive by making sales and delivering services – so make sure you are measuring the impact of a particular campaign or message on your bottom line as well as the impact you have on fans, followers and fanfare.
There are so many ways you can measure the impact of your business communication – but hopefully these give you a few ideas to build upon. But again – please do make sure you know what you are trying to achieve. Oh, and at the other end of the measurement equation – make sure you take some time to celebrate your successes too!
Do let us know how you get on. And if you’d like to use our FREE monthly content planner – daily ideas and outlines for blog and social media posts – let us know here, as we’re working on the May release in the next week or so.
Until next time,
Lucy & Emma