Preparing for effective measurement and evaluation
“Do measurement, would you! Measure! Just measure already!!” your boss cries. “I need effective measurement and evaluation now!!?” Shudder shudder.
One of the most feared phrases in the communications industry, “doing” measurement and evaluation can feel a bit like drowning in a sea of data, struggling against the tide to fish out something that… well, means something.
Tempting though it may be to just dip your toes in the water, value comes from adopting measurement and evaluation in a big and meaningful way.
The difference between measurement and evaluation
The best way to understand the two is to look at it as quantitative research (focusing on the numbers, e.g. what worked the best) and qualitative research (understanding the results, e.g. why did that work).
Understanding measurement and evaluation comes down to what and why. While measurement helps you see what worked, evaluation is understanding why it worked – and what you can learn for the future.
Use the steps below to adopt a genuine measurement-driven communication strategy.
Three golden questions
These three questions provide the foundations of your measurement and evaluation framework. Once you’ve answered them, you can plan your approach.
Q: What’s the problem at the root of the need for this communications approach?
E.g.: Drunk driving on rural roads
Q: What needs to change to address the problem?
E.g.: The perception of drinking in rural areas
Q: What will you do to make these changes?
E.g.: Facebook campaign and road-signs in high-risk areas
It’s a common misconception that measurement and evaluation is only done once the project is complete. In fact, measurement should be done throughout the project and by determining what you want to measure makes the process a lot easier.
The communication metrics you can measure are almost endless. But by labelling the outcomes that are meaningful to your project, your measurement is both manageable and valuable.
This includes things such as:
- Activities of the organisation (yours, competitors etc.)
- Response on specific platforms e.g. Facebook
- Media influencers and their reaction
Understanding what you want to achieve from a project at the outset and throughout means two things. Firstly, once the project is complete tracking these results is laid out in front of you for analysis. And secondly, throughout the project you can change and adapt your approach based on what is and isn’t working.
By labelling your metrics for success, you build a landscape that maps out how your audience reacts to certain content to understand what they do and don’t enjoy.
Landscaping creates an awareness of how to identify and react to opportunities and challenges that appear throughout the project. After all, the whole idea of measuring is to understand information while it’s relevant, not as an afterthought.
And most importantly, by understanding the landscape now, you’ll understand it better next time. And the time after that. Measurement is an important tool to grow and learn because it helps you ultimately understand your audience.
Sure, it’s a daunting task. But planning and landscaping are key.
Once you’ve planned your monitoring and evaluation approach, get going. Now, your sea of data is reduced to just a pool.
What’s your experience with measurement and evaluation?
Also published on Medium.