The most valuable resource for any campaign or issue group is cash. It’s necessary to keep the office lights on, build support and certainly to win. It should unquestionably be protected and used wisely, although that’s often not the case.
So how do you know if you’re spending wisely? Today there are more resources available than ever before to measure the return on investment (ROI) for everything you and your consultants do. Here are four ways to gauge the effectiveness of your expenditures.
1. Develop KPIs
Every successful business develops key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure how effective they are at meeting objectives. After your campaign defines its objectives, layer in ways to measure how your efforts align with meeting those goals. For example, if your objective is to identify 1,500 strong supporters with door knocks, you might discover that it’ll take 10,750 knocked doors to accomplish that objective. This discovery leads you on a journey to uncover the number of door knockers you’ll need, the time you’ll need to spend on this activity, et cetera.
It may be difficult, at first, to make sense of what to measure and how to do it. Many consultants are distracted by vanity metrics that provide little insight. To determine what is actually a valuable KPI find resources that allow you to measure engagement, votes or persuasion. Moreover, write down your KPIs and track them weekly or daily.
2. Make Everything Measurable
When you know how many calls or knocks it takes to create a conversion, you can decide how many volunteers to recruit. If you can measure how many households are engaging with your mail piece versus a TV spot, you can better determine the percentage of your budget to accommodate the best strategies. Look at it like a funnel – if you need one voter to come out of the bottom, how many do you need to put in the top to achieve that result?
Some tactics run contrary to this idea. The use of yard signs, instance, draws the ire of some consultants exactly because it’s difficult to tell how many votes or conversions came from using them.
3. Avoid Outdated Systems
Find an expert or develop systems that manage the entire data-gathering process – from target devel-opment to identification to conversion. With everything under one roof and easily accessible, you’ll know more about your audience and see how every effort is contributing to conversions and your end goal – winning.
4. Don’t Rely Solely on Instincts
When it comes to gauging your effectiveness, instincts can only help so much. Combine your instincts with clearly defined, measurable metrics. You have to know what drives your conversions. Is it worth it to have thousands of impressions for an ad if you can’t tell how many new supporters you get as a result? Your instincts tell you it was a great ad – that’s why you developed it. That’s great, but you need to amplify that by discovering the tangible measurements of its success.
Some aspects of a campaign can’t be measured, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for not measuring everything you can. Take the time to access how you’re gauging ROI now for your campaign or organization. If any of these points hit a nerve, it may be time to speak to an expert or research new systems that better help you measure and meet your objectives. You work hard for the money you have, now protect it and be more effective in the process.
Cory Brown is vice president of data and strategy for Cygnal, which provides polling, data management, targeting and integrated communications for candidates, groups and businesses. The original version of this piece appeared on Cygnal’s blog.