July 09, 2010
Is your online communications program in need of a tune-up?
Photo by Andy Henley
An ongoing dilemma for companies and organizations is defining successful online communication and outreach programs. If this is a dilemma you’re currently facing, then perhaps your online communications program is in need of a tune-up.
But, how do you know for sure? Try asking yourself some of the questions that follow:
Many communication and marketing departments define program goals before executing a campaign. Such strategic planning allows us to compare results to expectations. For example, are you trying to drive traffic to a website or event, create awareness, sell more products or services, build a house e-mail list, or perhaps raise funds? Have you assigned metrics to these goals? Maybe you want to grow an e-mail list by 10 percent, drive 500 new attendees to an event or even raise a million dollars. Preliminary numbers or even educated guestimates can provide a baseline for future efforts.
Another way to gauge success is to compare the results that your program is getting against industry standards. Typically, a grassroots online outreach campaign is executed via email, so we’re referring to metrics such as open, click-through and bounce rates. You may also measure success by the number of responses you receive from those on your outreach list.
Most importantly, however, is how well your program is converting for you – are people acting on the communications you’re sending? Are you selling or signing up more people as a result of online communication efforts? This is where it’s important to track your campaigns from first click to final conversion using tracking URLs for your campaign links. For instance, we use tracking URLs provided by Google Analytics.
In terms of deliverability success, have you tested your content, headers and footers against a spam content checker? Doing so will help you track how your messages are treated. Another best practice to aid with deliverability is to implement a list hygiene program to routinely clean your lists by removing bad names and incorrect e-mail addresses.
Some organizations rely on customer feedback to improve outreach programs, and it is important to have that feedback loop in place. Are customers engaged and providing feedback? When’s the last time you asked customers and supporters what information they wanted to receive? Along the same lines, do customers pass your communications along to friends and colleagues? Would you even know if they passed the word along about your company or organization? Do you make it easy for them to share your communications – such as through email and social networks?
In the world of communications 2.0, consumer-generated media such as blogs and social networks (i.e. Twitter and Facebook) are helping to define success and your online presence. It’s important that you’re actively and regularly monitoring these mediums. In addition to customers, what are others saying about your organization or brand? Have you Googled your company lately? What’s the buzz in your sector or industry?
Lastly, are you doing all that you can to make your programs a success? Do you syndicate content through RSS readers and partnerships? Do you make it easy for decision-makers to find your company or offerings through search engines and your website’s media room? Have you explored other communication and content marketing vehicles, such as wikis, video and podcasts? Are you delivering a consistent message across both traditional and interactive channels?
For information on how you can put a Tuvel Communications program to work for your company, organization, product, service or event, just contact us.
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