Measuring success

In Duane Raymond’s eCampaigning Essentials article he talks about 'tracking' people who you are connecting with your campaign online; this is basically seeing how many people are clicking on and looking at your stuff - very useful.

Dan Ayers from Sony BMG suggests Google Tools for the amateur tracker, which is both handy and free: “Google is much more than a search engine: Alerts, Blog Search and Google trends all provide you with extremely useful ways of investigating what's going on around the web in your campaign area."

A really simple way of measuring the success of your campaign is to look at the website or social networking pages you have set up for your campaign:

  • Number of friends.
  • Number on your mailing list.
  • Number of people who are looking at your posts, and if you have one, your website.

This will give you an indication of how many people are following you. But it takes something like a questionnaire or more imaginative research to find out whether you’re really changing opinions.

Duane Raymond has some more insight for you:

‘Success can be measured on many levels. The ultimate measure is when you achieve your campaign objectives. Only you’ll know when you get there!

‘With a topic like public education change the best way to measure its success is to take a survey of a section of the public early on in your campaign. Then later on when you think you’re close to achieving the goal, survey them with the same questions and see whether there's been a change. This also depends on who the focus group is. It could be the public, mps, teachers... Measuring change is a tricky one, nobody’s cracked it. It's been around as a problem for ages.

‘It's hard to ask what exactly did I do that made this change happen? Realistically it’s messy because other people are doing stuff around the same thing. Whole groups of people are doing stuff around your topic and it might be the other people that make them fall into your arms and say 'right we’ll take this forward cos it’ll make us look good'. Actually measuring what you did is very hard.

We asked David Bowles of the RSPCA how he measures the success of a campaign:

Measuring success is definitely something that we grapple with - there's no easy way to measure the success of a campaign.

If your campaign aim is to get a piece of legislation passed or changed that's not necessarily a good indicator of how successful your campaign is. You might run the best campaign ever and not get it changed, or the worst campaign ever and get the legislation through. The first thing to do is to work out what your campaign is going to achieve.

One of the best things you can measure is differences in consumer behaviour. Polling, finite discrete polling, is a really good way to do this. If you're trying to raise awareness about a social issue then you can measure it by asking a social group and to see if awareness has been raised amongst them and not others. This way you can have a clear cause and effect of the campaign.

Another way to measure success is to follow traffic to your website. eg if you've been doing advertising or released a viral, by looking at the site traffic statistics you can see clearly when the spike was to your website; if that's where you're driving them to.

Another good indicator is sales data. Lots of RSPCA work is sales driven. If you're selling cars it's easy to see how successful you are but if you're not selling stuff it's hard to tell if you're making a good impact. For example, in 2008 we ran a dog rehoming campaign in which we were campaigning for people to re-home dogs from the RSPCA.

"What we were really doing was selling dogs"

What we were doing, really, is selling dogs, so you can track the 'sales figures' or rather track the rehoming figures, to see what happened during that month. Another example is with a chicken campaign we ran with Jamie Oliver to promote buying higher welfare chickens. It's easy to see a pull-through by asking the people that are selling those chickens. You just go to a company and see if there's a difference in numbers.

Google analytics is a great tool. You can see from the graphs where and when the spike occurs - particularly for websites.

It's much more difficult to see if you've changed a mindset. The only way to do that is to ask if people have heard of a campaign by polling. This is similar to what high street brands do. How does Gucci work out if a brand is in someone's minds? They go out and ask them.

"There is a difference between talking and action"

When you're polling you can ask more finite questions: would you buy your dog from a pet shop? You can ask these before and after the campaign and see the difference in attitudes. Was there a drop after the campaign in people saying they would not buy a puppy from a pet shop? This data is quite discrete and can lead to both qualitative and quantitative discussion. There is a difference between talking and action: what people say and what they actually do, but you can track it through behaviour. Did the number of dogs re-homed actually go up? Or did the number bought in pet shops go down?