Sarah Willis
Sarah Willis
VP, Finance,
IABC Orange County

As communicators, most of us are drawn to words over numbers. But how do you know if your words are making a difference? You’ll have to look at the numbers. The well-known phrase, you can only manage what you measure may seem cliché, but it is a valid assertion. Sound strategy requires objective measurement and analytics. Data will tell you where you need to focus, improve, and adjust.

There is power in analytics. When you can prove something works, your influence is more compelling, and requests for additional budget and support for initiatives are more likely. You can demonstrate how communications goes beyond creating pretty flyers, product sheets, and well-written content to a department that generates engagement and revenue, contributing to your organization’s bottom line. Stories data tell have the power to transform the perception of your role as a communicator in your organization from merely a creative tactician to a strategic leader.

In addition to the key performance indicators (KPI) I’ve established and track for individual campaign performance, I track more than 50 KPIs to evaluate my department’s impact on the company where I work. Examples include leads generated, web forms completed, time on site, number of site pages, number of quotes generated, quote dollar value in aggregate, average quote value, press release views and clicks, social media followers, views, shares, pay per clicks, and the list goes on.

Tracking numerous KPIs may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to start with 50. You can start by identifying 3-5 key performance metrics your company cares about. How do you or your department support those objectives? Identify that and determine how to measure it. Once you have data, report it publicly—tell others in the company about what you’re doing and the impact your activity has on the business. I only report on five KPIs to my company’s executive leadership. Those 5 KPI’s are the things they care about – when they want more detail I can supply it

You don’t need fancy or costly reporting tools, applications, or software to get started. Create a spreadsheet, Word document, or something simple that works for you, and track information, month over month. Are things improving or getting worse? Analyze and make changes for improvement. If you wait to find the perfect reporting tools, you’ll lose valuable time for making impactful adjustments. The important thing is to get started –  Once you start tracking, you’ll better understand the ideal tool for your needs.

The next step is to determine how to improve performance, create plans around that, and execute your strategy.

In review: measure, analyze, report, adjust, repeat.

Sarah Willis
VP, Finance, IABC Orange County
VP Marketing & Customer Experience, NTS-National Technical Systems