This post originally appeared on the PNConnect Blog.
Digital analytics started off as a technology problem: Success meant implementing systems to capture the data you needed from your website, email list, or CRM system. As the industry has evolved, and what was once a six-figure investment has become a free service, the challenge for analytics has shifted from technology to methodology. Nearly everyone has the same data now, thanks to products like Google Analytics and the eagerness of the social networks to give their data away through APIs.
Successful analytics teams are those that know how to tap into the firehose of data to produce insights and metrics that are both actionable and insightful. PNConnect works across multiple industries, platforms, and research methods to help our clients make sense of all the numbers. We’ve found three metrics that, while critical to extracting insight from digital platforms and understanding the real impact of brand programs, are often either misunderstood or overlooked:
Return on Investment
ROI is the most sought-after metric, but it seems to be the least understood. The strict equation for ROI defined by generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) is the financial gain from an investment divided by its cost shown as a percentage or converted to a dollar return. The definition is more than semantics; it has significant implications on how to get to ROI. It requires buy-in from finance to track spend, research teams to solve for the dollar value of programs, and agencies to measure the metrics feeding into the ROI equation.
Even when a hard sale metric isn’t available or measurable, we can still build a measurement program evaluating results through the lens of financial investment. A federal government client wanted to use paid media to drive visitors to an online hub for healthcare planning information. We evaluated our paid media campaigns on the basis of their financial efficiency to drive traffic to the website’s pages that user testing had found most effective at changing attitudes and behavior. By defining a measurable, digital success metric and evaluating on the basis of cost per on-site action, we delivered more valuable traffic at a lower price.
Social Media Sentiment
A quick look through social media listening tools will typically show tweets like “I want a Big Mac so badly” coded as negative. The way people talk about each brand differs, and the same words often mean different things to different clients. A product being “on fire” can meet a strategic objective for a fashion client but constitute a crisis for a car rental client. Even when analysts correctly assess the linguistics, sentiment measurement rarely ladders up to business objectives, programs or results.
Tying sentiment to programs recently helped PNConnect assess the impact of a client’s mobile app on brand equity. Over the course of a year, we identified users on social media who mentioned using the app and then tracked their mentions of our client’s brand pre- and post-installation compared to general social media users. We found app users doubled their positive mentions of our client after the initial download of the app, while general social media users showed no change over the same time period. The app was not only well received by customers but created online advocates.
Most social media measurement focuses on generating buzz or measuring public actions – liking a Facebook page, tweeting about a brand, or writing a product review – but for some clients these metrics tell only half the story. We’ve found that for clients with less exciting or potentially embarrassing products, particularly in healthcare, consumers “lurk” online, consuming but not contributing content for up to a year before making a purchase decision.
What people share…
vs. what people search
To help build a successful Facebook page for a client that offers an elective surgery, we focused on the lurkers. We paired traditional audience research with trends from organic search data to identify the barriers consumers face when considering the surgery. Our content strategy centered on addressing these barriers to help the lurkers overcome them, and the measurement captured “silent actions” such as clicks on content as well as what the audience did on the website. Through this content and measurement approach, we improved engagement with the Facebook page’s content 73% from the starting benchmark.