Making sure we understand the impact of our communications efforts should be top of the list for all of us, but when we get to it we can find ourselves wading through swamps of data without a clear picture forming on the contribution our comms made.

Did the Likes on our Facebook post join up to people filling in our web form? Did the retweets help drive ticket sales? Making sure we’re set up right to get our users on the right path before we post can help us get clearer results rather than just hoping our crafted comms are contributing to achieving an objective.

Light squiggles on dark floor - Nuit Blanche Toronto by Jason Paris under CC BY 2.0

Following the user journey

Understanding what happened as a result of your online comms – and hopefully something did happen – begins with being able to follow your user’s journey. Not in a creepy way, there’s enough of that already online, but in a way which enables you to pick out their path from seeing you in their newsfeed to taking a desired action.

In eCommerce the obvious happy path to look for is a customer seeing a post or an Ad, then following a route to browse products, add them to the basket, and checkout. Often this journey is linear and you can see how a comms action resulted in a business objective being hit. At Reckless Yes we often see correlation between radio play and physical product purchases, or social media and membership take-up. In the general eCommerce scenario you aim to really impress them so they create an account with you or sign up to your mailing list so you can help them make future journeys (and purchases!) with you.

In a public sector and service setting perhaps the path is still clearly defined but the journey may not be a linear one. Your user’s may spend more time thinking about a decision (foster care, for example, or a panic button for a vulnerable relative) so you might not see a direct action between a social media post and a service sign up – this may happen several visits down the line. Understanding the typical behaviour and decision process of your users, for each service, is work which contributes toward knowing the impact of your comms.

On target for goals

Whatever the journey your users or customers take setting goals helps to understand the success of your comms and the content which helps them along the path. You might set goals at each stage (awareness, engagement, completion) as well as have an overall goal (‘get x amount of people to complete this form’).

Even if you already have these it’s worth reviewing – I’ve mentioned recently about the increase in zero-click searches so if any of your goals are for referrals you may want to look again at how this impacts you and what you need to do to change the path or your goal.

Always understand your impact

Understanding the impact of your comms is key. In a world where budgets are sliced, and customer satisfaction is always being reached for then showing the worth of what you do is vital.

This starts with getting set up to measure the results of your comms and follow user journeys through from your promotional activities to end result; define the conversion path.

This might include setting up custom URLs and goals in your analytics package or making use of cookies but ultimately you need to know if your Facebook post resulted in consultation responses, or your Instagram Stories encouraged more people to visit your country park / museum / library (delete as appropriate).

Understanding awareness and engagement metrics on social media isn’t enough if you want to really prove the worth of the comms you do – so delve deeper and take a journey with your users to see who’s reaching the destination and who you’re losing along the way.

Need a hand?

If you need a hand with anything do get in touch. I’m happy to take a look at what you’re currently doing, help you set up something new, or come in and share some knowledge with you and your team. You can get in touch with me here and find out who else I’ve helped out recently here.

If you’re looking for a helping hand with Facebook I’m running Vital Skills Facebook workshops with Dan Slee – all you need to know about Pages, the algorithm, Groups, and Ads – more details here.

“Nuit Blanche Toronto” by JasonParis is licensed under CC BY 2.0