We seem to be obsessed with numbers and targets, but what actual use are these? And do we really understand them?
With so much effort being put into communications, it’s a sound idea to measure what they actually achieve. Just taking internet activity, there are many statistics that you can monitor, from web site visitor numbers to page views, click-throughs and bounce rates (where a visitor leaves a web page without exploring further), but what do they mean?
For any business that wants to sell or promote itself over the internet, figures are useful. Sites that sell products online can measure success directly through sales figures and profit generated, but brochure sites aiming to attract customers to call or email are not so easy to measure.
The number of visitors or page views alone are not that useful if those visits are not from your target market. Thousands of visits are pointless if nobody ever responds, whereas low numbers of enquiries leading to large amounts of business are valuable.
So we have to be careful when we analyse numbers because they don’t always reveal the quality of performance. Delving deeper to find out if we are attracting our target audience, monitoring how many web visits convert into actual enquiries and calculating the value of business obtained from web site responses give us a real indication of success.
If we do this with all our communications, we’ll have a better idea of how well they are performing.
After our last blog, do you need to find suitable providers?
z2zine on Monday: print or digital?
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So we’ve developed a communications plan and are putting it into practice by working towards long-term goals and taking short-term actions daily, but how do we know if anything’s working?
Like anything we do in business, it’s essential to measure success, especially where we’re putting a lot of time or money into an activity.
Our business plan will suggest appropriate targets to us, but we have to work out how to tell if we are meeting these.
There are many different ways of measuring the success of communications. One of the simplest is to ask people, such as asking customers how they found out about your company or product. You can do this in person or on the phone or develop a more comprehensive survey for people to fill in.
You can also develop specific response mechanisms so that customers respond with a unique code printed in an advert (letting you know they saw that advert) or access a special web page so you can count how many responses your activity generated. While simply measuring increases in responses or sales tells you that your communications are working, it won’t tell you why it’s working or which activities work better than others. If you advertise in three publications, it’s useful to know which one generates a bigger response as you might wish to increase your advertising in that one and stop advertising in the other two. You can use this in any form of communication, not just for advertising and marketing.
By discovering what works best, you can focus on successful methods and stop or improve less productive activities. Your planning and use of communications will become more sophisticated and you will get more value from your communications budget.
After our last blog, are you taking action every day?
z2zine next Monday: Realistic communication objectives
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