How to Measure Digital ROI

December 2, 2016 8:00 pm Published by

Most communications teams know how important is it to measure their activity, but are often stumped when it comes to the actual execution. I find this to be particularly true when it comes to measuring the impact of digital communications campaigns in particular. Today more than ever (but less than tomorrow I’m sure) there is a plethora of digital data available to us. It’s just a matter of how to use it to our advantage. Here I’ve outlined the four basic steps to measuring the ROI of digital communications campaigns.

At the end of this post you will find two examples that follow these four steps.

Here are the 4 STEPS TO MEASURE DIGITAL ROI

  1. Set Objectives.

    Amazingly, I see this step skipped all the time. Most folks jump right into posting on social or creating digital communications campaigns with absolutely no end goal in mind. I will tell you right now, there is absolutely NO WAY to measure ROI or determine success without objectives.
    And not just any objectives, but SMART objectives:

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Relevant (or Realistic)

Time-bound

When asked if an objective has been met, you should be able to definitely answer “yes” or “no,” and the only way to do that is if the objectives are SMART

2. Identify all of the sources of data available to you.

There are a number of analytics tools available (many for free) to measure social and digital activity including Google Analytics, Web Trends; Adobe Omniture; Constant Contact and MailChimp analytics; and all social platform analytics. Based on what you want to achieve, determine what data is important for you to collect.

3. Determine a benchmark.

Inherently, measurement is a comparative tool because to determine whether a campaign was successful or not, the results need to be compared to something. The most effective comparisons are to the competition and peers over time. However, that’s not always easily obtainable data. Another, less effective, benchmark is to compare your organization to its past performance over time. This type of benchmarking demonstrates whether performance is improving or declining.

  • If a comparison of your organization to others in the industry in general is a useful benchmark, check out TrackMaven’s (no relation to Maven Communications) 2016 Social Media Industry Index, which is full of great stats on average engagement rates by industry and by platform.
  • If your company is willing to pay ($490/month), Unmetric is a platform that automatically includes your completion in its social media tracking and puts your results into perspective relative to the industry.

4. Draw conclusions and adjust.

In this step you’re specifically determining what campaign, or parts of a campaign, were most effective, and which efforts just aren’t paying off. The data that you’ve gathered will help you to make these determinations.

 

Having the data is one thing, presenting it in a way that is meaningful and attractive is something else.  We find the best way to present findings to leadership or clients is to create a visual measurement dashboard. You can create one yourself relatively easily in PowerPoint (easier for smaller campaigns without a ton of data), or you can use a service, like glean.info, to create attractive dashboards for you. The amount of data and level of detail required for presentation purposes should typically be one to two pages that quickly inform. Your dashboard should easily answer:

  • What happened?
  • So what? (demonstrate how it met or did not meet the campaign objectives)
  • Now what? (recommendations on improving the process for better outcomes)

 

One quick note here: Realize that these steps are industry best practices, BUT at the end of the day, if you’re not measuring what leadership or the client cares about, it doesn’t matter how great the results.  That’s why it’s imperative for everyone (leadership and client included) to agree on the objectives at the outset.

Below are two examples of how you might go about measuring the ROI for a digital communications campaign:

EXAMPLE 1

OBJECTIVE (what do we want to do?)

  • Sell more tickets (good start)
  • Sell more tickets to women ages 35-44 (better)
  • Sell 20% more tickets to women ages 35-44 by June 2017 (best)

IDENTIFY DATA SOURCES (how will we do it?)

  • Traffic to the tickets sales page of the website
  • Clicks on the “buy tickets” button embedded in an email campaign to target audience
  • Social media engagement by target audience group around posts with a buy ticket call to action
  • Targeted social ad clicks to “buy tickets” page

DETERMINE A BENCHMARK (what are we measuring against?)

  • Historical web traffic to ticket sales page
  • Past email marketing engagement
  • Past social media post engagement
  • Past social ad engagement
  • Industry standards

DRAW CONCLUSIONS AND ADJUST

 

EXAMPLE 2

OBJECTIVE (what do we want to do?)

  • Increase new business (good start)
  • Increase new business from institutional clients (better)
  • Increase new business from institutional clients by 15% by EOY 2017 (best)

IDENTIFY DATA SOURCES (how will we do it?)

  • Traffic to institutional case studies on the webpage
  • LinkedIn connections between decision makers at target institutions and leadership/sales personnel
  • Views by decision makers at target institutions of specific LinkedIn Pulse articles pertaining to institutional capabilities
  • Social media engagement by decision makers at target institutions on posts pertaining to institutional capabilities
  • Clicks on links to intuitional case studies embedded in an email campaign to decision makers at target institutions

DETERMINE A BENCHMARK (what are we measuring against?)

  • Historical web traffic to case studies and capabilities pages
  • Past email marketing engagement
  • Past social media post engagement
  • Industry standards

DRAW CONCLUSIONS AND ADJUST

 

Related Articles

PR Measurement: An Update

Measure. Adjust. Repeat.

Why Your Marketing Campaign Isn’t Working

 

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This post was written by Jessica Sharp

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