Measuring Your Impact: Evaluation
Evaluation needs to be considered throughout your communications planning. When you craft objectives, you have to ask yourself how you will measure your success. Without an evaluation plan in place, you could lose valuable knowledge and insights you could have used to your benefits.
If you are working with a client, they (and you) will want to know whether your plan actually worked, and if it didn’t, what happened. Whether your project worked out exactly as planned or not, having a robust evaluation plan in place will help you learn from your campaign and your audience.
Evaluation doesn’t have to be scary, in fact, it can be very rewarding. You may just find you start to become addicted to learning about the results of your campaigns.
You should have already considered your evaluation to some degree in your research and analysis steps as you learned about your situation and developed objectives. If not, go back and consider how these parts of your plan connect to your evaluation plan.
Are you gathering baseline data that could be compared before and after the campaign?
Are your objectives measurable and how will you measure their success?
When you think about it, successful evaluation is weaved throughout the entire process of planning and implementation. A good evaluator knows that quality data is really what makes evaluation possible, so set yourself up to learn from the communications process by collecting relevant data throughout your project.
Think about your tactics. Every activity that is part of your communications plan is meant to cause some kind of change. They are not just actions being taken for no reason, they create results.
For example, let’s say you are hosting an event. You need to be thinking about how this event works toward your objectives. Collecting data can help you understand that. Ask yourself before the event, how many people registered? Is there a way to collect their feedback? What does a successful event look like to me?
After the event, ask your team more questions and document your answers. What did they say and do? Did they comment or engage online with our channels during the event? Did all registrants attend? How many door tickets were sold? What feedback did we receive? Were there any issues?
Interrogating the activities in your plan like this will help you collect relevant data throughout your campaign that you can use to understand what really happened when it’s over.
Focus on Relevant Data
Ask yourself which data will clearly demonstrate that you met (or didn’t meet) your objectives. This is where you want to focus your energy and ensure you have systems in place to measure and understand that data as your plan unfolds. There is no need to overwhelm yourself obsessing over all data, just focus on the data that matters to your campaign.
Make a list of which data matters for your campaign. What really needs to be measured and learned from? Then you can break down how you will collect the data you need throughout your research and activities.
All major social media platforms have analytical features that allow you to see things like views and engagements. Web traffic and behavior can also be tracked using Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel. Squarespace has a built in metrics dashboard that provides detailed information on your web traffic.
You should have contact information available so that people can send you qualitative feedback, and also monitor mentions of you or your brand across online channels. If you have an e-mail list, most dedicated e-mail marketing companies will also have detailed information about who opened your newsletters and what they looked at.
Data from these sources can let you see when and where traffic spikes and what your audience engages most with. You can also use primary research methods to assess changes. Surveys, interviews, and focus groups are useful ways to ask your audience how your campaign influenced them.
How do you like to evaluate and measure results?