Every good communications professional needs to have benchmarks that measure the success of their communications plan. You must consider what is working with your strategy and how you can strengthen it as you move forward.
Developing checkpoints is a good way to determine if you are hitting all the marks and checking all the boxes along the way. This helps you establish the success of your communications plan -- and if tweaking needs to be done.
Below, 13 members of Forbes Communications Council share the one checkpoint that marketing executives can use to grade themselves on the strength of their communications plans. Here’s what they had to say:
The main checkpoint marketers should focus on in their communications plans is authenticity. Regardless of how splashy or unique your plan is, if it isn't authentic then media and the public will see right through it and it will just become more noise. Tell authentic stories to the right audience and your communications will resonate and make a measurable impact.
Charlie Terenzio, revcontent.com
2. Metrics And Timelines
The most important way in which marketers can establish the success of any of their efforts is to evaluate previous efforts to date, define success metrics based on previous efforts and the perceived value to be received from the new effort, and then commit to dates for achieving goals. It's critical to set dates for goal achievement, review performance and then make adjustments as necessary to reach those goals.
Crystal White, Launch Interactive, LLC
3. Continued Engagement
One of the key checkpoints for us is engagement -- not just whether someone opened an email or clicked through. Are they continuing to do so over time or have they stopped? Stopping can mean that the contact’s attention has gone elsewhere. To a competitor, perhaps? It can also mean that the content is no longer compelling to them.
Denise Joyner West, Technology Concepts Group International
4. Multilateral Impact
We all enjoy the speed of the communicative spearhead, so we must begin our KPI dialogue on both depth and breadth of a topic. This is particularly important for publicly traded organizations as they are always in search of shareholders, clients, journalists and industry analysts. The approach must be crafted in a way that satisfies each of these stakeholders while impact remains consistent in all areas.
Patrick Corcoran, Luxoft
5. Reactions From A Test Group
Confirm that your plan resonates with your customers. Put your message or some executions of it in front of a segment of your target group and get their reactions. Testing doesn't have be formal or expensive, but will almost always reveal something you didn't think of.
Alina Morkin, Voices.com
6. Share Of Voice
I have been using quarterly share of voice measurements on all communication channels for several years. I think it has helped me grade how my communications activities are working and make course corrections to boost the SOV. I believe every marketer should monitor SOV against their competitors to keep themselves honest about their true progress.
Anshu Agarwal, Cedexis
7. Engagement Over Vanity And Volume
Strong communications encourage people to participate with content and engage in healthy conversations. On social in particular, one way to assess whether efforts are successful is to observe the quality and types of responses -- think retweets, shares and comments. These kinds of metrics prove they value it enough to engage, amplify and do something additional with it.
Andrew Caravella, Sprout Social
8. Conversations And Conversions
It's all about measuring the conversion rates. Go beyond purchases. Each piece of communication should have a well-defined goal or conversion. Maybe it's downloading that e-book, adopting that product feature or adding that thing to their cart. Map out and measure those conversions to ensure that your communications plan is taking them through a beautiful and effective buyer's journey. Jamie Bell, Flywheel
9. The Elusive 'Why'
We often get carried away with lofty ideas during a brainstorming session. Before we get our minds too married to a concept, we should take a step back and ask ourselves "why." What are our intentions and desired outcomes? If the idea involves a financial commitment, what return on investment are we aiming for? This simple reflection helps us execute the strong ideas and pass on the impractical ones.
Natalie Atabek, AFS Financial Group, LLC
10. Customer Health Or Satisfaction
As communicators, it’s important to put your customer at the heart of everything you do. To gauge the success of your plan, create a measurement system to monitor customer health or satisfaction in real time. Don’t take a backseat approach to customer centricity. Modern businesses need a modern framework to better predict customers’ needs and foster satisfaction.
Martin Häring, Finastra
11. Yearly Survey
Marketers are under intense pressure to show ROI on everything they do. During a campaign, metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, conversions, downloads, traffic, etc. are table stakes today. To get truly valuable insight into how your plan is moving the needle, consider a yearly customer survey that covers brand perception and the ease of doing business with your company. Christian DeGobbi, MBA, PCM, AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. (AFSI)
12. Momentum And Buzz
Besides the obvious increases in sales and brand awareness, another great checkpoint is if the plan was memorable. Are other people in the marketing community talking about the campaign? Are your retailer buyers talking about it? Does it feel like it created momentum and buzz? If people are positively talking about your marketing activations, that is the ultimate measure of success.
Sherry Jhawar, Blended Strategy Group
13. Feedback From Internal Champions
I would highly recommend getting an honest assessment from internal, customer-facing champions within your organization on whether your communications plan achieves your desired outcome. As marketers, we always need to check if the content or message we are creating is still relevant to our clients; there is no better way to do this than to test or survey your own people.
Ahmad Daher, denaliai.com