It’s all too common a question for a communications agency to hear – “but show me how a comms plan will generate sales and new leads”. Unfortunately, the answer is not as simple as X+Y=Z. The foremost purpose of a communications agency is to shape the reputation of the company it’s working for. Influencing the opinions of customers, partners and even the company’s own employees. Organisations oftentimes underestimate the value of reputation shaping and instead, only want to see facts, figures and a solid ROI.
Now I am by no means suggesting that there isn’t an ROI on comms, it is just notoriously difficult to measure. But if you want to follow the maths to see how the distribution of a press release results in sales then knock yourself out with this blog by Greg Jarboe.
So hopefully I’ve got the numbers people on board by now and with the introduction of Google Analytics 4, this tracking process is only set to become easier. GA4 will use AI and predictive analytics to provide highly granular visitor data. This will mean better tracking of visitors from initial arrival, through various stages of engagement to the end goal, so lots to look forward to!
But in all honestly, the impact of communications stretches far beyond tracing clicks to a website. It’s clear, of course, that you can attribute economic results to comms activities, but the true value lies in the shaping of your organisations reputation.
In this day and age, customer loyalty is as fragile as ever. One poor user experience, a single bad review or even a certain political standing can deter customers from your website. So how do you change these opinions? Here are four simple steps to take to make your brand, and your reputation, shine.
So, moral of the story – limiting comms to numbers and stats is like limiting an artist to only one colour. The painting will be complete but missing a wealth of potential and creativity. So, open your mind, broaden your paint palette, and let your reputation become a masterpiece.
Proof and measurement of online engagement is critical, especially if we as PRs are to get our clients as enthused in social media activities as we would like. While we must measure engagement, reputation and sentiment, being naturally pre-occupied with outcome-based results businesses also need tangible proof, such as number of downloads, comments, click-throughs, enquiries etc to provide that halfway stage between campaigns and direct sales.
There are hundreds of tools available that can prove sentiment and engagement, some free and some paid for – some are rubbish and some are pretty good. Radian6 is expensive, but provides the most comprehensive measurement reports in a really simple format. eCairn is arguably the best, but is fairly raw in format and the reporting function is not as ‘glossy’ and easily digestible as Radian6.
Then you have the free tools. Most do the same job as the paid-for tools, but you just need to spend more time digesting the information and putting it into digestable and meaningful format. We find a combination of Google Analytics (including blog and site search), Technorati and Omgili is sufficient much of the time.
Social media measurement tools do come with a health warning – not one tool is really able to provide a truly accurate view of positive or negative sentiment (although several sites claim to do this), so you really must have human intervention. The sentiment reporting function should really be used as a good initial guide for any red flags, but you then need humans to research buzz properly to verify positive/negative sentiment.
Of course, while proving sentiment and maintaining reputation is a start, converting it to direct output is quite another.
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