The Importance of ROI and Ways to Measure it

By Anna McDermott

Jennifer Boes, Communications Strategist for Marshall Communications

Nancy Marshall, The PR Maven®, spoke with her communications strategist, Jen Boes, on the 14th episode of her podcast. Jen is a gifted public relations expert and thoughtful marketing strategist, and together they shared some very valuable tips for measuring your return on investment (ROI).

End Goals
Nancy says it’s always best to start with the end in mind before any PR or marketing campaign. Are you looking to grow sales, or do you want more members or donations each year? What are your key messages you want to share? Jen added that it is important to have a plan in place – a scattershot method is hard to measure. If you want to do Facebook ads, you need to have an end goal so that you can track the results and see if it was achieved. Jen mentioned she frequently sees agencies undergo PR initiatives without any measurements in place.

You Need a Playbook
Nancy said when she started her own agency, she often felt like a hamster in a wheel, working and working, but not knowing if it was successful. This frustration was the foundation for the creation of her agency’s Marshall Plan.® If you have a playbook – something like The Marshall Plan®, which results in an in-depth marketing and PR playbook – it insures that everything your doing is working towards the common goals which you decided upon at the beginning and that they are measurable.

Have a Checklist
Write down the steps you plan to take for each goal and make sure you mark them as complete when done. If you want to promote a new product, your goal isn’t to just send out a press release announcing it. You want to draft the release, highlighting why the product is special, research the best media contacts to send it to, try to establish a relationship with them beforehand, so you’re not just yelling into the void, and then figure out the best way to pitch the new product to that specific journalist. Maybe it’s Twitter, maybe it’s a phone call. Each goal should have specific methods laid out in the playbook in advance so you can see your progress.

It’s Important to Measure but Within Reason
Measurement is vitally important but if you spend all your time and money measuring, you’re not going to achieve anything. The idea is to test and learn. Everything you do takes time and money, so test what works and do more of that. If something’s not generating results, then do less of that. Having a measurement dashboard where you focus on your key metrics allows you to focus on your goals and how your marketing strategies and tactics are helping you achieve them.

Figure Out What is Important to Measure
Include what is most important to measure on a dashboard. This will provide you with a finite number of ROI measurements to share with your stakeholders or your executive team. Jen’s top measurements to include are:

  1. Media relations: provide one or two benchmarks including how many impressions an article or TV piece reached.
  2. Social media: a benchmark that is helpful to include is the number of new followers, but even more important is how much engagement they have and what posts generated the most.
  3. Web: how much traffic came to your site and from where.
  4. Key messages: each piece you create for a PR campaign should have the key messages you set out in your end goals. Are they being incorporated into every aspect of your campaign? If not, you need to tweak them to build your brand.
  5. Advertising: some say you can’t measure advertising but if you include unique URLs as landing pages or a special offer, that will provide concrete evidence of the ad campaigns success.

The PR Maven® Podcast is presented by Marshall Communications, creator of The Marshall Plan® strategic process. The Marshall Plan is a fully customized document using our 65 proprietary steps and leads to a playbook for your success. If you think your business or organization would be a candidate for a Marshall Plan, you can take our Marshall Plan quiz to find out. Visit Marshallpr.com/quiz.

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