how much are your digital efforts worth?

The more you can measure the impact of your communications, the more your communications can do. There's an event for that.

by Dave Worsell

Good comms people know the challenge of measuring and placing a value on communications efforts isn’t a new phenomenon. Long before digital outlets or data analytics even existed, U.S. 'pioneer of marketing' John Wanamaker (1838 - 1922) said: 'Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, the trouble is I don’t know which half.'

Finding that half, though, continues to grow in importance, especially when communication teams are tasked with demonstrating value for the budgets entrusted to them. At GovDelivery, we work with clients in the public sector who must often go through rigorous budget approval procedures. These processes have introduced even more urgent necessity for metrics and measurement.

In addition to managing your budget more effectively there are other important reasons to measure your digital communications efforts.  Figuring out what’s working and what’s not is key to helping you focus your strategy. Even if the numbers you uncover aren’t great, they are still full of insights, helping your team identify those efforts that should be refined or abandoned.

There is a trend to stop the practice of ‘SOS comms’. That’s ‘Sending Out Stuff’ just for the sake of it. It’s a key aim of UK government under Alex Aiken and a trend that all good comms people should take note of where ever they are working whether that’s central government, the NHS, police or local government.

Measurement and metrics should be a core part of the digital communication planning process from the start. The first challenge is identifying those metrics that can help you measure outcomes. The second is measuring them before, during and after your communications efforts so you have something to benchmark against. Ultimately, the goal of any communication is to move people to change their behavior either online, offline or both. But how do you know if your efforts are having an effect? Or even reaching your target audience at all?

We’ve found that valuable insights come from a variety of measurement approaches. For instance, at the individual level you can track a person’s action through a unique identifier they must use to access a service. From a high-level perspective, you can compare trends or patterns, measuring behavior pre- and post-communication. As an example, you could track call centre volume to see if your communications have effectively lightened the burden on your staff. Surveys are also useful measurement tools, enabling you to ask your audience directly about how they heard about an event or what moved them to attend.

In addition to measuring outcomes, you can also look to optimise your communication results. Let’s consider emails. Is there a certain day of the week your contacts are more likely to open and act? A particular time of day? What subject lines or content work best?

Knowing what’s working in your digital communications plan helps you grow your reach and your impact. Metrics and measurement are vital when it comes to demonstrating the value you bring to an organisation or your local community.

There has never been a better time for you to tackle these questions as a good comms person.

We’re going to be exploring this topic in depth at our 5th Annual UK Government Communications Conference on 11 November 2014 at the Victoria Park Plaza hotel in London.

At this all-day event, research and communications experts will be sharing the latest metrics and findings on the value of communications in channel shift. It’s a great place to be if you’re wondering what metrics you should use for your own measurement approach, or how your communications measure up when compared to other public sector organisations.

If you’re interested in elevating your communications through metrics and measurement, we'd be glad to have you join us in London.

GovDelivery enables public sector organisations to connect with more people and to get those people to act. With more than 1,000 public sector organisations using GovDelivery to deliver messages to more than 70 million people around the world, GovDelivery helps clients meet mission and program goals, resulting in safer communities, happier commuters, healthier families, and better government.

Dave Worsell is director of government solutions at GovDelivery Europe.

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