ROI: Focusing on Change Not Numbers
Posted by Eran Kolran on July 9, 2013
When I was serving in the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit my job included answering enquiries by reporters. We were instructed to hand in a weekly report detailing the amount of enquiries opened and closed.
At the end of the year, I was asked by my superiors to create a presentation with some impressive graphs using the data we had collected over the year to present to the IDF spokesperson himself.
I took the assignment full heartedly, sure that I will shed light on some important issues and help shape decisions made by the top echelons of the unit.
To my surprise, I found nothing I could do with these numbers, as no information was collected on why this or that enquiry had been closed, who opened the enquiries. Enquiries were not tracked to determine how much time an enquiry had been open before closing. A lot of data was stacked up on my desk and it amounted to nothing.
I imagined the IDF spokesperson seated in his office receiving these meaningless reports, reviewing the numbers every week and nodding in content. That image would haunt me for some time.
Today, I was thrown back to that image, when a prospect, CMO, asked me what ROI we expect our campaign to yield for his company. He wanted a precise number.
Numbers are only meaningful when they are in context. When we talk about results particularly in the field of PR and social media we should speak not of numbers but of change.
That is not to say numbers should be ignored, but that they should represent an improvement towards a specific defined goal. If our goal is to increase our leads, our conversion rate, our sales or achieve other business objectives, we should seek the numbers that will reflect the influence of our activities on those goals.
For example, if we would like to measure the level of change influenced by our PR activity on our conversion rate, ideally we would begin by benchmarking, measuring our conversion rate before engaging in a PR campaign.
Then we would measure the conversion rate amongst leads and divide them into two groups; those that were exposed to the campaign and those that were not. This will allow us to have a test group that could negate irrelevant influences from affecting our study.
When choosing a PR or social media agency, begin with clarifying your business objective. Identify the changes that need to occur to achieve this goal, and then implement the measures that will highlight the influence of PR on these changes.
By shifting the focus to change instead of a particular numeric result, we may isolate the influence of PR and see it as a process. We should constantly optimize our PR activity, to exert ever greater change and increase our results, instead of idly sitting in our offices and reviewing beautifully laid out sheets of numbers that mean absolutely nothing.