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For several of our clients, that’s all the space they’ll get to share the success of their latest initiative with their leadership team. In some cases, they aren’t even the one presenting the information, so they can’t add context or provide supporting examples. Fortunately, that short sentence and 15-second talking point is all you really need to make your point and highlight your success—that is, if you’ve done the work to back it up.
Brevity is something I struggled with early on when it came to data. One of my first projects after graduation was to send daily social intelligence insights to the team who was leading the presidential primary campaign for a former candidate. In addition to learning about the world of politics, this project taught me how to consolidate an immense amount of data into one or two key points.
Yet, this update was merely one of a thousand the candidate would receive each day. That meant, I was relegated to format my research as short, sweet headlines in the body of an email. I couldn't rely on charts to illustrate the week's improvements or declines or pretty maps to highlight where the candidate was performing well. I couldn't even add interesting examples of social conversations.
Just bullet points. All of this beautiful data had to be watered down to mere bullet points.
I used Radian6, a social intelligence tool that monitors online conversations, to zero in on the topics discussed online, as well as identify positive/negative connotations and geographic hot spots. The presidential candidate's staff didn’t need to know how I gleaned these insights or which interesting data led to my conclusions. They did, however, want to see a snapshot of how the candidate was perceived that day and how they could improve his reputation tomorrow.
With so much data available, what were once simple key performance indicators (KPIs) like “new leads” or “increased brand awareness” are infinitely more complex. From Google Analytics to LinkedIn reports to media monitoring intelligence, we are more informed than ever before and we have the option to report on new (and potentially more relevant) KPIs like product mentions on Twitter, content longevity and website traffic spikes after a big media hit. We can monitor, analyze and update strategies based on results in real time. And our industry is infinitely stronger because of that capability.
Setting strong KPIs at the onset of a project will later help you understand the "why should I care and why is it working" aspect of the data overload. It will help you know exactly what you should measure and ultimately how you should interpret the results.
When you’re evaluating a project’s success mid-way through or recapping results after a campaign, focus on analyzing each channel and each report separately before coming to any kind of conclusion. From there, look for trends across channels and identify any discrepancies. I use a simple dashboard format for most projects because it provides the best snapshot of results and helps pinpoint what really stands out among the results.
As you're compiling the data and reviewing results, asking the right questions can ensure that you're analyzing the right data. For example:
Did website and social traffic double after we shifted messaging strategies? Did we see online mentions pick up in Austin when we launched a campaign with food bloggers?
After answering a few of these questions, you can cross reference results with your original goals. Where you see alignment or variation is where you can focus your key insights and recommendations. And then you can write your bullet point. In most cases it will take hours of work to get that one big picture sentence, but you’ll feel confident in your results and in any decisions you make based on the data.