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Measuring the effectiveness of your online communications

You probably communicate frequently with your target audiences through your website, blog, email broadcasts and social media, but metrics can be used to evaluate what works best and what isn’t working at all.

In the first instance, you need to measure the number of people you are potentially reaching with your communications. 

How many people are actually looking at the information you’re putting out there? How interested are people? Do they click through on links, subscribe, ask questions and write comments?

More importantly, how many people take action to make an enquiry, arrange a meeting and ultimately end up becoming a customer or client?

For most online communication channels, you can measure how many people actually saw your content, ie the number of views.

  • Website page views
  • Blog post views
  • Video views
  • Email opens
  • Press release views
  • Press release pickup views

Views provide a general understanding of how many people you’re reaching. The metrics can be useful if your main objective is raising the online profile of the organisation within the marketplace.

However, if you are tasked with delivering quality leads that convert into additional business and ultimately add to the bottom line, then you need to dig a bit deeper to measure the effectiveness of your efforts. It is not wise to use views as your primary metric of success. 

Increasing the size of your online audience is all well and good, but if none of these people opt-in, engage with your company or convert to an enquiry, then what have you really achieved?

Measure the size of your ‘opt-in’ online network

How many people actually choose to receive your information or interact with your company? 

You can start by working out how big your online network is. For example, you could look at:

  • Email newsletter subscribers
  • Blog email subscribers
  • RSS subscribers
  • LinkedIn company followers
  • Twitter followers
  • Facebook fans or likes

These metrics tell you about your ‘captive audience’ – how many people have chosen to listen to what you say and opted to receive your information or interact with you in some way. 

Like views though, it’s too easy to look at increasing your number of followers as an objective. 

If you have 1,000 Twitter followers and none of them ever engages with your company or leads to an enquiry, then don’t focus on getting more followers. Instead, focus on your channel conversion rates. 

Relevance of followers is important here too. If your business is a regional construction contractor targeting clients in Scotland, then how relevant are 500+ LinkedIn followers from eastern Europe?

Website analytics

Google Analytics provides excellent information about your website and blog visitors. It’s a huge feature so a basic approach on a weekly basis is recommended here. There are four main metrics worth looking at in Google Analytics:

  • Traffic sources
  • Referring sites
  • Bounce rates
  • Goal conversions

Google Analytics recently added a ‘Visitor Flow Through’ feature which shows the visitor journey from the social media channels. 

It enables you to determine which social channel works best, which content is popular, where improvements can be made and what ultimately ‘converts’ as an online goal conversion.

Conversions

In order to decide what makes a successful conversion, you need to go back to your original marketing objectives. By measuring conversions you are measuring actual, tangible outcomes. 

What are you trying to achieve with your online communications? If you have a really high-level objective like ‘raising the profile’ or ‘increasing awareness’ you can track a few view metrics and see if you are reaching more people, but this won’t give you any idea of how you should be investing your time. 

The ultimate measure of ‘conversion success’ is likely to be a combination of several metrics, so it can be helpful to track other things as well as online metrics. 

Measuring the number of telephone enquiries received and the number of new business meetings arranged is an important factor too. If your web page ‘Call to Action’ is “Call us today on….” then a phone call enquiry should count as a conversion as well.

Essentially, online communications are measurable and the mainstream communication channels provide you with metrics to tell you whether they are working or not.

By focusing on a combination of different metrics, you can adjust your communications strategy so that you are not spending time on ineffective tactics, and can spend more resource creating content that converts.

Kirstie Colledge is a committee member for CIMCIG and managing director of SMPR (Simply Marcomms PR) the online PR and digital communications agency for the construction industry

 

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