In the excitement of dreaming up and launching campaigns, sometimes determining how to measure it gets lost in the mix. Yet, as Tara Saylor expressed to the room full of marketers at the Kansas City International Business Communicators lunch, the only way to pop the champagne and enjoy the successes is to know where you’re going at the beginning. This means asking questions, using data, deciding what to measure, making a plan, and telling everyone about what you did.
Good solutions start with good questions.
Question 1. Who are you trying to reach? Are they loyal customers, new ones, or potential ones? What do you want them to do with the information provided?
Question 2. What’s your timeline? Working backwards from the final date sometimes helps build out the steps. Once you have those steps, put them on a calendar.
Question 3. How are you going to measure success? It’s best to document the answers to the questions so you can think through the way they contribute to success, otherwise you might end up having to use HIPPO (highest paid person’s opinion) in the end.
You don’t need numbers to have data.
After you know what questions you’re trying to answer, you have to have data to assess. Saylor reminded everyone to consider the difference between quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data tells you what. Qualitative tells why. In qualitative data, you are looking for themes and similar answers to help make decisions. But, Saylor cautioned everyone to be careful when talking about the relationship between the two types of data as correlation is not causation.
What can you measure (operationalize)?
Now that you’ve determined what success looks like and what kind of data you need, you have to start think specifically about what helps tell the story of success. It could be page views on the website, number of survey responses, or feedback in customer reviews. But, you also have to know your limits. You likely only have control over some of the components so you need to understand what is and isn’t actually contributing to the success. Saylor noted assigning value to what matters is also important. In some cases this means turning qualitative data into quantitative so it’s scored. Then, cautioned Saylor, it’s important to account for actions over attitudes – everyone lies, sometimes unintentionally. People will try to tell you what you want to hear. In Saylor’s example, people say they want fewer emails, but they still open and read the emails. The actions tell a different story than the words.
Make a plan & Execute
The best way to get ready for success is to plan for it. Saylor advises to lay out what you’ll do, when you’ll do it, how it will happen, and who needs to be involved while also considering different aspects like tracking and communicating. We make plans in our heads, but you have to put them down on paper and pull all the info into one single place. This plan will help guide the way the campaign is carried out and give everyone an idea of what to look for and when. It’s important to remember to adjust during the execution phase. If something isn’t working, learn as you go to see if something else works better.
Focus on why
The final step can sometimes be the most tedious because it’s combining everything you learned along the way and aggregating it into a report for stakeholders. Remember, cautions Saylor, if you have a bunch of numbers they are just numbers; they need explanation to be information. A few reminders from Saylor when considering reporting:
- Look for patterns. You may have a hunch something worked. If patterns around the theory develop overtime, you’re likely right.
- Be accurate and standardize reporting so everyone knows what to expect.
- Give credit where it belongs. Know what you’re attributing where and why.
- No news can be good news and a strong measure of success.
You made it! Now, start all over again.