Placements, impressions, likes, followers, open rates, website visits and page views …

Do these metrics matter when it comes to evaluating a communications program, or not?

Quickly search online and you’ll find some industry leaders proposing communicators should eliminate them from campaign wrap-up reports once and for all, saying these metrics in no way determine the success or failure of a strategic communications campaign designed to increase sales, enhance reputation or inspire action. Some even call them vanity metrics, relating them to marketing or PR chest thumping.

While I agree that media ink or followers or clicks do not equal a successful product launch (or any other initiative), these metrics are not entirely vain. They are good indicators that the tactics in your overall campaign strategy are on track; that you are creating a digital, social or media environment that is primed to nurture future change in behavior.

For example:

  • A solid list of placements in your most influential publications may indicate that you’ve targeted the right reporters with the right story angles and that they feel their readers will care about the subject.
  • High open rates may indicate that your email subject lines are interesting.
  • Social likes, comments or shares may indicate that you’ve appropriately applied your knowledge of the audience to create content that resonates and prompts conversations.
  • Using Google Analytics, referral traffic from social media channels or news outlets to your website may indicate that such content is prompting the audience to learn more about you.
  • If the time spent on website product pages is relatively high, it may indicate that your content is engaging or informative enough to capture audience interest.
  • And so on…

Likewise, using the above example, if media aren’t buying your story, if no one is opening your emails, if no one is responding to your social content and if your new webpage has zero traffic – this just may indicate something is amiss.

So yes, don’t stop paying attention to the small stuff. Such metrics CAN play a role in campaign analysis, as long as they are presented in the context of indicators rather than outcomes.