Imagine that you are sitting around a conference room table with 20 brand marketers and digital strategists waiting for the “big reveal” of the upcoming PR campaign. As the PR firm dives into their deck, they get near the end and announce that they expect the campaign to generate 450 million impressions. And that’s it. The end.
Unfortunately that story is still played out time and time again with many brands who either don’t know how to ask more from their agencies or they are comfortable with the status quo. Often in those presentations, the goal of the strategy is to boost product/brand/industry awareness / reputation – and that is generally where the thoughts on measurement stop – impressions and awareness. For me, this is one of the key indicators of agency digital maturity.
If you think about impressions, what is an impression? Are all impressions the same? To me, they are isolated moments with customers or potential customers that have the opportunity to spark ideas, feelings and emotion. The opportunities for brands are so much larger than brand awareness and impressions.
While the high number game is always a favorite game with the executive team, keep in mind brand impact. I have personally seen brand campaigns where impressions were measured in the hundreds of millions – but translated to no sales. Why? They reached the wrong people at the wrong time. Consider measuring your reach with your customer. You probably have brand research on who your target customers are, so develop measurements to identify your % reach with that core target.
Measure The Experience
You have reached your core customers. Now what? Think about how they experienced that awareness. Does the product/brand/service look interesting to them? How do they feel about it? Would they be likely to buy/sign-up for it? How likely would they be to recommend it to a friend? There are a thousand things you can learn from the people that are aware of your campaign, new product or brand that feed directly back to understanding your success.
Sustain & Remain
A hallmark of fairly less-mature programs is that they evacuate or turn-off programs when they have concluded. They fail to either transition or maintain the experience with the customers or advocates. They treat campaigns as finite exposures that have a definitive end and turn off the measurements after they ring the bell at the magic number of impressions.
Mature programs consider the relationship and how to continue the conversations. Yes, you penetrated the target market and increased awareness of the new product offering by 27%, but what then? How many would be interested in joining a community dedicated to using the product or sharing ideas about using the product? Perhaps there is an opportunity to invite people into a loyalty program or e-mail database. What happens next what does that have to do with measuring awareness?
Everything. Awareness is just the welcome at the door. Measuring the long-tail of the experience and how far people desire to continue that engagement can speak volumes about your awareness success. In some instances, you may even be able to tie the awareness directly to a sales impact. Just imagine that. Unfortunately measuring just impressions won’t provide those vital statistics so it’s important that you have the tools and measurements in place to provide this direct linking.
Assumptions are one of the most common mistakes in these measurements. Too often people draw incorrect correlations or make assumptions on a spike in numbers that are not directly tied to an awareness or PR campaign. I once had a campaign in progress where one of the marketers remarked that their initiative increased one of our metrics by 30%. However, there were 30 other customer tactics in progress at the same time making it impossible to draw that conclusion without proper preparation.
Also remember: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know. Consider building in cushion for much broader targets than your intended customer. You would be surprised how sometimes you discover an untapped community that you or your company never considered.
Often when I talk to brand leaders the desire is for the prescription, the silver bullet, the scroll of knowledge to be shared and bestowed upon them for generations to come. It’s not that easy. The tools and approaches change and are different from company to company. My best advice is to broaden your horizons internally. Work with your IT teams, finance, consultants, etc. to outline the best approach for you and your company. Often you will be surprised what may already exist or the ideas that may already be moving around your company. The exact way to measure reach or sentiment with each company will vary depending on their capabilities and preferred measurement techniques.
Newer approaches now allow for almost real-time response regarding campaigns for optimization. Products like Crowdtap allow brands to immediately understand campaign success for awareness. Additionally, tools like these provide solutions for continued engagement and learning from those who have experienced your campaign. Generally these options are much less expensive than traditional focus groups and more effective for follow-up and continued engagement.
Impressions are just the beginning of your ability to measure effective campaigns. By reaching further and considering all your options, you can help your company take advantage of the many opportunities available to optimize your future success.