How to Measure the Influence of Your Communication
by Chris Clegg
All communication is an attempt to exert influence. We communicate verbally and non-verbally in a hundred different ways every day to help navigate the world we live in by exerting pressure on our environment to bend one way or another. Whether we are requesting a better deal from a vendor or saying excuse me as you pass a stranger, it’s all the same thing.
Marketing is just a highly thought through, formulaic, means of exerting influence. When crafting our marketing communications, we start by giving the recipient some reason to listen (often by framing the problem) and then quickly follow this with a representation of the intended outcome if the listener allows themselves to be influenced. Once we’ve communicated the imperative and followed that with the proposed benefits and/or features of our solution, we need only encourage the next small step toward that solution.
Once we understand the formula we can measure the success of any communication by assessing the key components of each stage. You’ll find that it always tends to boil down to some form of “Who the person is,” “What they did or didn’t do,” and “How they feel about your suggestion.” When you cross-section these measures with the things you have influence over (marketing channel, consumer demographic targeted, method of communicating your message, etc.) you can start to model where your message is getting through the strongest.
The team at PortMA recently completed a round of research for an international Non-Government Organization (NGO) who needed to better understand how their publications are influencing policy on a global scale. This NGO had traditionally judged the impact of their publications based on the number of website views or the number of report downloads. But with no knowledge of what happened after the download was completed, or even who downloaded in the first place, there was little opportunity to derive any real understanding of their level of success for any one publication let alone comparing publications.
PortMA used the methodology outlined above to speak with the report authors, marketing teams, and other organizational stakeholders to identify who the report was targeting and what the intended influence was. From there, we were able to craft the right measurement strategy to understand how well they were reaching these targeted readers and, when they did, what the impact of the communication was on future policy decisions.
It’s not easy. It requires a lot of focused thinking and carefully crafted questions but when done right with a basic methodology in place, there is no communication a good analyst can’t accurately measure.