The importance of measuring before you plan
The end of another year is fast approaching and we are all feverishly buying Christmas presents and looking forward to the holidays.
While it’s a busy time ensuring projects get completed, many communicators find that this period is also a good opportunity to start planning for what the new year will bring.
An important first step (that is regularly missed) in planning your communications approach is reflecting on the success of your previous or current activity.
You might write a well detailed plan that is full of ideas on creating and distributing content in an effective way to reach your audience, however if you’re unsure of your starting point, your planned approach might not resonate.
Measuring before you get started might seem a bit tedious but the importance of doing this can’t be stressed enough!
These three key actions will ensure that you have a good benchmark to work from as you plan your new activity.
- Understand your goal and measure it using relatable metrics
There are so many options when it comes to measuring. Google analytics, social media channel insights, database subscribers, email enquiries, survey results and desktop research can all provide valuable insights. The trick is knowing what data to use to measure what goal.
If your goal is to increase audience engagement and/or encourage action, measuring how many people viewed your webpage or how many Facebook likes your page has is not going to cut the mustard.
Comments, shares, survey responses and sign-ups to your database are much more valuable in providing insight into how engaged your audience is.
It is also important to use more than one metric to measure your success. If your Facebook post has 30 comments but there were no database sign-ups or surveys completed perhaps you haven’t been as successful in engaging with your audience as originally thought.
In order to successfully measure if you have successfully achieved your goal, take the time to ensure you are using the correct metrics for the goal you are measuring.
- Conduct qualitative research
Using online metrics, such as website statistics and social media engagement is a fantastic gift that technology has given us.
That’s not to say however that a good old fashioned survey or focus group session is redundant.
This method of measurement and evaluation is extremely valuable in gaining a better understanding of how your content was received and perceptions and feelings about what you are communicating.
It’s great if 1000 people looked at your website but did they understand the message? A quick five-minute survey or a more in-depth focus group session will provide you with greater insights into whether people are engaging with your content communication activity.
This method of evaluation can also provide you with some really good insights into how your audience is reacting to your content and provides you with an opportunity to seek further clarification.
Qualitative research is sometimes perceived as a long, drawn out, expensive process but that doesn’t have to be the case. A 10 question SurveyMonkey survey or a short thirty-minute focus group session with people from different areas within your department is a perfectly acceptable way of performing this type of measurement.
Wouldn’t it be great to start the new year knowing that the content communication you are going to implement will gain enormous traction with your audience? Qualitative research can help you with this.
- Set new goals and plan how you will measure them
In the content communication world, we love SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound) objectives.
Using the measurement and evaluation research you have successfully conducted, set some new goals for the new year (and the next 12 months) and make sure they are SMART.
As well as setting your new goals it is important to plan out how you will measure them. Remember to go back to tip number one and use metrics that are relatable to your goal.
Perhaps you will track database subscriber conversion rates, website visits over the entire year or even conduct a quarterly survey to check in with your audience. Regardless of what you are tracking it is much easier to measure against your goals when you have a plan in place from the beginning.
If you’re able to find time to measure your current communication approach when you’re implementing a successful content communication approach in 2017, your future self will thank you!