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Five Secrets for Successful Measurement Programs

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We recently won a PRWeek Purpose Award for our measurement program for the National Domestic Workers Alliance — here are our top five secrets for measurement and analysis.

The digital information landscape is changing rapidly, and communicators have to navigate an increasingly fraught minefield of polarization, misinformation, and information fatigue. Analytics and measurement can be an essential tool for demystifying this evolving information ecosystem, which silos people into distinct infoscapes. But in order to be useful, measurement programs must increase their sophistication and nuance to match the changing environment they’re meant to capture.

We recently won a PRWeek Purpose Award for our measurement program for the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) for doing just that. Here are our top five secrets for measurement and analysis.

  • Define success at the outset — and be specific. Align on the target outcomes from both a qualitative and quantitative perspective. In the case of NDWA, we began our measurement work with a simple insight and objective. The insight: domestic workers are invisible within the current policy discussion. Our objective: make them visible and define their work as essential. We then drilled into this further: what did we mean by visible? How would we know when we’d succeeded in defining their work as essential? From there, we set specific, incremental goals around engagement with relevant content, collaboration and engagement with influencers, and targeted earned media pull through. We adjusted our incremental goals as the campaign progressed – always with our eyes on the broader objective.
  • Dispense with vanity metrics like impressions. Track numbers that demonstrate impact. While it’s tempting to include big, unrefined numbers – like impressions – those numbers are just as likely to be misleading as informative. For example, several years ago we had a client whose boss was chasing impressions – which led to collaboration with several high followership accounts, against our recommendations. While the topline impression numbers were great, secondary engagements were minimal, and the long term desired results were not achieved. Once we re-focused our Key Performance Indicators on more specific engagements, we were able to make the case for engagements with smaller, but more appropriate influencers, which ultimately achieved our campaign goals.
  • Dig beyond engagement numbers. Drill into the different audience segments that are being engaged. NDWA’s advocacy, for example, sits at the intersection of five distinct, but connected segments; the Democratic base, labor advocates, immigration advocates, racial justice advocates, and feminist advocates. Most of the people in those groups are looking for content specific to their particular issue. Tepid engagement on one post may actually reflect high engagement with only one segment; thus the insight should not be to dispense with the tactic behind the post, but rather deploy it specifically when trying to engage that group.
  • Don’t navel-gaze. Look beyond the specific tactics that have already been deployed. Measurement reports often explore only the universe of “what worked and what didn’t.” But good measurement should also include a listening piece that looks at what is working broadly across the industry. For example, early this year, we noticed key segments were engaging more with humorous content – possibly as an escape from the broader, dour environment. We took this broad insight – which had no grounding in the specifics of anything NDWA had previously done – and began looking for ways to use memes or comedy in pointed ways that laddered back to NDWA’s mission. This new approach earned new followers and renewed engagement among existing followers.
  • Numbers don’t always tell the whole story. No campaign exists in a vacuum, and tracking is essential to understanding what is happening, but it doesn’t always tell the whole story of why. For example, we recently had a client who noticed an uptick in discussion about their products and weight gain. When we looked holistically at conversations around weight gain, we found that the combination of the end of the pandemic and the start of the summer – bathing suit season – was driving a much broader uptick. The insight around this broader shift, both contextualized our numbers and added nuance to our messaging recommendations. Look for patterns, but always question and stress-test your conclusions.

Finally, remember to regularly re-evaluate your measurement program. An insufficiently nuanced measurement program can be worse than no measurement program, teaching you the wrong lessons, validating unproductive tactics, and obscuring innovation. Ultimately, we’ve found that when we apply this type of thinking, we are able to produce reports that paint an accurate picture of the past, allow on-the-fly content optimization, and – big picture – make us better, more thoughtful communicators who can connect with our audiences on their own terms.

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