Stop putting KPIs to tactics and focus on the results

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  • July 1, 2015
Laura Crimmons

Laura Crimmons

Communications Director

Too many clients (and agencies in some instances) are still focused on setting KPIs for campaigns against the tactics that we use, as opposed to the results that we’re trying to drive.

I was at the Performance Marketing Insights Europe conference last week on a panel, talking about the future of Digital PR. I discussed this particular point and how it applies to both PR and SEO (and probably lots of other industries or sectors). We need to stop focusing on the outputs and focus on the outcomes that we want to drive.

Setting KPIs for the number of pieces of coverage we get, the number of links we drive or, say, the amount of social shares we get or specific rankings are meaningless. The coverage, links and rankings in themselves are not the results we’re looking for. What we want is to ultimately increase brand awareness, traffic to the website, conversion and sales. These are the things that actually make a difference to the bottom line and business objectives. You could get all the coverage or links in the world, but if nobody sees it or takes action as a result of it, then it’s not going to make an impact. Likewise, obsessing over ranking for a particular keyword is pointless if it doesn’t drive any traffic or it drives traffic that doesn’t convert.

This is actually covered in the Barcelona Principles from a PR point of view, which are:

  1. Importance of Goal Setting and Measurement
  2. Measuring the Effect on Outcomes is Preferred to Measuring Outputs
  3. The Effect on Business Results Can and Should Be Measured Where Possible
  4. Media Measurement Requires Quantity and Quality
  5. AVEs are not the Value of Public Relations
  6. Social Media Can and Should be Measured
  7. Transparency and Replicability are Paramount to Sound Measurement

This covers two of my key points – measure outcomes, not outputs and look at the effect on business results, not tactics. That’s been out there since 2010 and yet, five years on, it’s still being ignored. You can read more about the principles on the AMEC site.

From a PR campaign point of view, we should be focused on reaching our intended audience through whichever are the most appropriate mediums or publications, not on securing a certain number of pieces of coverage. From an SEO campaign point of view, we should look at driving more of the right kind of converting traffic, not on links or specific keyword rankings.

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