Posted on February 13th, 2012
Chapter 3 in Measuring What Matters outlines the steps necessary to take a measurement program from inception to evaluation. First, similar to the previous chapters, Paine says an organization must define its objectives—which “must include not just the desired outcome but also a date by which it should happen, and ideally, a budget and the audience it is designed to influence (p. 34). Goals generally fall into three categories: sales, message or positioning, and public safety or education. The appropriate category will depend on the type of organization and, Paine cautions, it is important to create separate objectives for each specific target audience.
Steps two through five also involve defining key aspects of the organization and its goals—audiences, the resources being invested, benchmarks from competitors and past performance, and the “specific criteria of success (p. 37).” Paine notes that, in terms of key performance indicators, organizations must be careful to not confuse awareness with visibility. Although the two are linked, they are very different and measure different levels of engagement.
Once the planning phase is completed, data must be collected and analyzed to inform future action. Paine identifies three ways of collecting data: content analysis, primary research (i.e. surveys), and web analytics. It’s important to not only use the right tools to gain the insight you’re after but to do so when the information is of value—before or as you begin planning.
In evaluating data, do not omit or ignore negative results because the most vital information a company can have is knowing what or how it can do better. Paine also suggests relating each conclusion back to initial objectives and translating the data into easy to understand charts and graphs. This is especially helpful when presenting to CEOs and other important board members because it creates maximum impact with minimal chatter. Bosses tend to be most concerned with return on investment, which can be measured by much more than just profits. Positive ROIs can mean a reduction in operating costs, earned search engine rankings instead of paid rankings, cost avoidance in a crisis, and/or an increase in social capital. For each of these, Paine suggests that increased engagement with customers via social media is the answer.
In terms of deciding which tools to use for measurement, a business must be able to determine what audiences are saying, thinking and doing. To find out what people are saying, Paine suggests media content analysis that evaluates frequency and prominence as well as the overall tone and type of conversation. Although computers have certainly become more sophisticated in content analysis, Paine advises, “use humans to detect the subtleties (p. 49).” To find out what audiences are thinking, obviously, an organization has to ask. Surveys (whether by mail, phone, or internet) can measure awareness, preference, engagement, and (most importantly) the strength of relationships. Determining what audiences are doing involves evaluating pre- and post- campaign levels of awareness, web traffic, and sales.
Because the cost of measurement tools varies greatly, the most appropriate program design wil depend on a company’s budget. When costs need to be kept low, Paine suggests tactics like only using the “20 percent [of publications] that really matter” (p. 63) for content analysis and/or utilizing small random sample.
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