As the fiscal year end approaches, many businesses take it as an opportunity to evaluate their strategy, looking at data from previous years to see what works and what doesn’t. This provides an excellent opportunity to move forward with the things that work well and leave the things that don’t behind. An integral piece of the strategy puzzle is to create a communications strategy that is backed by data.
We see a lot of communications plans that make blanket statements like “We want to increase engagement” which is a common objective but it fails to address why that is a goal and how it can be achieved.
Sure, most organizations want to increase engagement but this statement is not enough to actually make that progress. That is why your communications strategy needs to be based on data and research. Here at The Agency, strategy is at the heart of everything we do – we have compiled an explanation below of how data can help your communications strategy.
How does data help?
The communications you send out to your audience are pivotal to connecting with your customers, if they are done well. But if you don’t do the background research, your efforts could be wasted on the wrong things, and your campaign may fall flat. Data should inform your communications strategy because it tells you how people respond to messaging. While you may have some idea of who your audience is and who is engaged, analytics can show and confirm this information. An example of this is using a platform that your audience is using to communicate with them. Data can show you from where your customers are accessing your communications so you can then focus your efforts to that platform.
What data to include?
Marketing and communications data can include a variety of metrics. You probably already have data from your website, social media, and sales information. The data you already have will help you understand the current status of your business. Gathering data does take time and patience, but the longer you gather information for, the more detailed the results can be.
As a communications agency, we look for certain information when crafting strategies depending on the goals and objectives of the organization. We have found some useful data for communications strategies can come from:
- Audience demographic research
- Google Analytics
- Social media
- Keyword research
- Competitor research
The above do not guarantee that your communications will land 100% of the time, but using data during the planning process will go a long way to ensure that you are successful. After all, your data is unique to you, you might as well use it. It provides insight that is customized to your organization, and is extremely valuable.
Incorporating the data.
Do you have a lot of data and no idea what to do with it? Don’t worry, that is common. Analytics can be extremely overwhelming (especially when looking at the whole suite of info given to you by platforms such as Google Analytics). The key to wrapping your head around this is to specify what data sets will be useful to your organization. For example: if you want to increase engagement you will probably want to track metrics like average session duration and new and returning visitors. Whereas, if you want to increase your amount of leads you may want to track metrics like unique visits and bounce rates.
Once you have the data, incorporating it into your communications strategy becomes the ‘simple’ part. Analytics will show you what is currently happening on your website and then you can form your strategy around how you want that to change. If you notice average sessions durations are lower, you can create a strategy around increasing that rate by creating more engaging content. If you notice your average unique visitors has decreased, you can plan a campaign to entice more visitors to the site. If you find the metrics are continuing to track upwards, you can plan to continue what you are currently doing since it is clearly working.
Establishing a baseline for your metrics will inform your strategy and let you know if you need to pivot once you start executing. A way to do this is identifying your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Each organization has different KPIs which change according to the goals of the organization and the specific campaign. Growth in revenue, employee satisfaction ratings, number of blog posts published are all examples of KPIs. Choosing which metrics are the right KPIs for your organization will depend on your specific goals.
Data is a great help for communications professionals to better inform their strategies. A smart strategy (meaning one that is backed by data) will definitely help your communications be successful. Strategy is our bread and butter; reach out to us to see if we can help with your communications strategy.