I’m in the process of preparing monitoring and analytics tools to track the online chatter and website traffic for a campaign one of my client’s is launching. It’s extremely important to consider and plan the tracking of online activity and website traffic flows and conversions — just as important as it is to plan the campaign strategy and generate compelling, shareable, creative content.
Affordable and even free tools allow us to gather amazingly detailed information on the people who are participating in the online conversation and determine the types of people who take action. Even though specific data on the individals isn’t always available, the tools allow communicators to understand where traffic is coming from, how, and which technologies are being used to access relevant parts of the website. This information can inform the communication/campaign team on next steps and any corrective action that may be necessary.
Gathering is just part of the process, though. The real value comes in understanding the story the data tells and how to apply it.
It shouldn’t all be scientific. Relationships are built based on social conduct which can’t (perhaps shouldn’t) be quantified. Still, data-driven decision making is about being smart with your money and time, and making tactically-sound decisions which support your strategy. It’s a bit like Moneyball, the story of how Billy Beane used data to rebuild a baseball team in a small market so it could compete against the titans of the sport in large markets. It worked well enough that the titans started using the same approach.
Public affairs teams need to think differently. They need to stop focusing on home runs and start thinking about on base percentage.
More importantly, PR and PA teams have to start talking in stories and images rather than parading data and charts.