With the waning days of 2016 upon us, communications teams and their agencies are scrambling to put together year-end measurement reports that will perfectly capture all the great accomplishments of the last year. If you’re one of them, stop it.
Unless you’re doing a deep dive into the data to produce measurement insight, you’re wasting your time. A year ago, I wrote that Annual Communications Reports Are a Waste of Time, mostly because checking your progress only once a year seems a bit silly in a communications environment that changes monthly. Imagine if you were a parent and the only time you checked your child’s health was right after Christmas?
The problem with these annual activity reports is that they are merely a compilation of what happened: the releases released, the placements placed, the clicks clicked. None of which will tell you a damn thing you can actually do anything about.
Hindsight might be 20/20, but if you can’t make decisions on it, who cares?
After 30 years of writing these reports, as well as serving on a number of boards and in leadership roles, I can tell you that the people for whom you are preparing these reports won’t care, and won’t read them, unless you add insight. What leadership, boards, and bosses everywhere really want to know is: “What can we learn from what we did wrong, and how can we leverage on what we did right?”
The sad part is that with the volumes of data now at our fingertips, and more sophisticated tools available to crunch that data, the answers are only a few clicks a way. I know, because it’s what I do every day. I’m lucky enough to have clients who demand insight from their data, so they ask me to crunch the data and write up reports for them all the time.
Typically it starts with a question. For example:
“I need to know if the effort we put into social media paid off.”
Step one is to make sure we all agree on what “paid off” means to your senior leadership. Does that mean web traffic? Conversions? Qualified sales leads? Engagement? Once that’s defined it’s easy to find insight by running correlations between conversions from social media in Google Analytics with your social metrics.
“I need to know if our influencer relations program should be dropped or expanded.”
Once again, we first need to agree upon what success looks like for influencer outreach. Against that definition, you can look at share of quotes in earned media, messages communicated, and media positioning over time.
3. “I need to know what results our content marketing programs are producing.”
Most content programs are designed to generate incoming leads or inquiries. To measure the impact of the program, as well as individual content pieces, you’ll need to pull data from your content management system as well as your web analytics and maybe CRM system. That’s how to connect your efforts to results.
My point is that getting measurement insight from a year’s worth of data isn’t that hard, once you have a clear definition of success and access to the data. More importantly, showing your business value is a much better use of your time than wrapping up all your activities in a pretty graphical package.
Still not convinced? Get in touch, I’ll be happy to help. ∞