PBL6: Communication plan

Problem: What does a communication plan involve?

Learning objectives

1. Different communication plan models.
(How do company size affect communication planning?)

A Strategic Communications Plan Should Have Internal And External Components

A Strategic Communications Plan Should Have Internal And External Components

An internal communications plan is for everyone who has ever been involved in the planning of your initiative. This includes people such as all of your foundation staff and board members who have been involved conceptualizing and developing the initiative, planning team members, advisory council members, the community members who have ever participated in planning meetings, and other involved stakeholders.  Internal communications strategies for those most closely involved in current planning efforts, such as an e-newsletter to keep all the planning team members appraised of what each other is doing, will be very different from strategies to connect with broader stakeholders who don’t yet know about your efforts, such as policymakers, media, and community members.

The external communications plan is for anyone who hasn’t been involved, but who needs to be. This might be the people who will benefit from your initiative, business, schools, policymakers, other funders who have not yet committed funds, community providers who have not yet been involved, the media, etc.  It also includes those who might be opposed to your efforts.

It is time to rethink the R.A.C.E model.
The R.A.C.E. model is a four step process for communications planning proposed by John Marston in 1963. There are a few variations of the model, but it is essentially a linear process involving Research, Analysis, Communication and Evaluation.

Why should we revisit the R.A.C.E. model?
Rather than a linear model, we propose and agile and iterative approach to communications planning. It is our belief that an organization’s digital strategy should always remain in beta. Social media have changed the way that people communicate with each other and they provide opportunity for companies to gather feedback in real time. Communications programs should allow for these conversations to be considered and evaluated. Changes can then be implemented where and when it is appropriate.

2. How do trends influence the communication plan?
Infographic: Meet the consumer of 2015

the customer of 2015

Social networks will serve as shopping platforms.
Over the last several years, brands have used social media to market their products, talk to customers, and even make merchandising decisions; but in the coming months, we anticipate merchants to add “selling” to the list of things they can do on social sites.

More retailers will take control of their value chain and improve order fulfillment.

In their book, The New Rules of Retail, Robin Lewis and Michael Dart brought up an excellent point about modern retail success. According to them, if retailers truly want to provide compelling shopper experiences, they would have to take more control of how their products are manufactured, marketed, and distributed.

More e-commerce sites will set up shop offline.

In 2014, we saw a number of e-commerce first businesses expand into the offline realm. Former online pure-play Birchbox, for example, opened its first physical shop in Soho last July, while companies like Bonobos and Warby Parker doubled down on brick-and-mortar by opening even more physical stores in 2014.

Mobile will continue to grow in all directions.

Mobile will show no signs of slowing down next year and we anticipate smartphones and tablets to play bigger roles in the shopping journey. Expect to see more of the following:

LOYALTY APPS

Next year, more retailers will introduce mobile loyalty programs. Shoppers will no longer have to clutter up their wallets with physical cards. Instead, they can track and redeem their rewards using their smartphones through apps such as Collect.

MOBILE SERVICES

Convenient services such as mobile ordering will be more prevalent. Larger merchants, including BJ’s Restaurant and Chipotle are already implementing this, but thanks to solutions like Mobi2Go, SMBs can also get in on the mobile fun.

Bird On a Wire, an Auckland-based free-range rotisserie chicken joint, for instance, uses the solution to offer online and mobile ordering, and it’s worked out quite well for them. Owner Ben Grant told the Mobi2Go team that the service streamlined his business. “Mobi2Go mitigates big lines in the shop, integrates directly with our POS system Vend, and is an additional revenue stream for us. It works really well,” he shared.

MOBILE PAYMENT SOLUTIONS

The number of consumers adopting mobile wallets will increase in 2015, thanks to solutions offered by Google, Softcard, Apple, and most recently, CurrentC. Expect less card-swiping or cash-handling and more phone-scanning next year.

Merchants who want to keep up with mobile payments but are confused as to which method to adopt can look into Poynt, a smart terminal that supports multiple payment technologies including NFC, Bluetooth, QR codes, EMV, and magnetic stripe cards. So whether a customer wants to pay using Apple Pay, Google Wallet, the CurrentC app, or beacon technology, the retailer will have no problems ringing them up.

Measuring marketing effectiveness: What to start tracking

To measure and, ultimately, improve your content marketing efforts, you need to know which metrics to track and analyze, and how to do so. The best place to start is by gathering some data from your company’s website, including your:

1.  Unique visitors: The best indication of your site’s overall traffic, unique visitors refers to thenumber of individuals who visit your website during a given period of time, where each visitor is only counted once. This number will vary dramatically depending on the size of your company, your industry and, of course, the amount of content you’re producing.

2.  Page views: The cumulative number of individual pages that your visitors click on during a given period of time. If your page views are higher than your unique visitors, that may be an indication that your audience is finding your content engaging because individuals are clicking around to multiple pages.

3.  Search engine traffic: The amount of traffic being referred to your site through search engines, such as Google or Bing. This number will give you a clear indication of how effective of a job you are doing at optimizing your content for search.

4.  Bounce rate: The percentage of visitors who come to your site and then immediately “bounce” or leave before clicking on any other pages. A bounce rate of less than 40 percent is considered good. If it is any higher, it may be an indication that visitors to your site don’t like what they find there.

5.  Conversion rate:  The percentage of visitors to your site who take a specific action that your content encourages them to, such as signing up for your newsletter. Conversion rates vary considerably based on industry, but tend to hover around 2 and 3 percent on average. That said, aim for a conversion rate of approximately 5 percent, or even higher if you are creating specific landing pages for specific audiences.

6.  Inbound links:  The number of external links to your site, an indication that other people have found your content important enough to link to it. Importantly, the more high-quality inbound links you have, the higher your content will rank on search engines.

Key metrics: How to start tracking

One of the best ways to track all of this information is by setting up a free account with Google Analytics. A powerful tool, Google Analytics will allow you to monitor your website(s) and analyze a huge amount of data at both the aggregate and individual page level. That way you can find out how specific pieces of content are performing, as well as the overall performance of your content marketing efforts. Signing up is easy and takes just a few minutes. Within a matter of days, Google Analytics will have collected enough data to allow you to start analyzing trends and looking for new insights.

Because Google gives you access to so much information, it can be very helpful to create your own custom dashboard that isolates the metrics that you find most relevant and allows you to compare them over time.

Here’s an example of a basic dashboard I’ve created using Microsoft Excel:

3. How to measure the effectiveness of the communication plan?

Performance improvement expert H. James Harrington once said, “Measurement is the first step that leads to control and, eventually, to improvement.” For anyone trying to take their content marketing efforts to the next level, his words certainly ring true.

For content marketers, metrics provide deep insights into how our content is performing. They tell us how many people are consuming our content, what they are doing with it, and whether or not they like it. Metrics alert us to which ideas we should replicate and which we should look to improve. They’re also what give us credibility within our companies by demonstrating that content marketing is both a powerful and worthwhile investment.

Measuring marketing effectiveness: What to start tracking

To measure and, ultimately, improve your content marketing efforts, you need to know which metrics to track and analyze, and how to do so. The best place to start is by gathering some data from your company’s website, including your:

1.  Unique visitors: The best indication of your site’s overall traffic, unique visitors refers to thenumber of individuals who visit your website during a given period of time, where each visitor is only counted once. This number will vary dramatically depending on the size of your company, your industry and, of course, the amount of content you’re producing.

2.  Page views: The cumulative number of individual pages that your visitors click on during a given period of time. If your page views are higher than your unique visitors, that may be an indication that your audience is finding your content engaging because individuals are clicking around to multiple pages.

3.  Search engine traffic: The amount of traffic being referred to your site through search engines, such as Google or Bing. This number will give you a clear indication of how effective of a job you are doing at optimizing your content for search.

4.  Bounce rate: The percentage of visitors who come to your site and then immediately “bounce” or leave before clicking on any other pages. A bounce rate of less than 40 percent is considered good. If it is any higher, it may be an indication that visitors to your site don’t like what they find there.

5.  Conversion rate:  The percentage of visitors to your site who take a specific action that your content encourages them to, such as signing up for your newsletter. Conversion rates vary considerably based on industry, but tend to hover around 2 and 3 percent on average. That said, aim for a conversion rate of approximately 5 percent, or even higher if you are creating specific landing pages for specific audiences.

6.  Inbound links:  The number of external links to your site, an indication that other people have found your content important enough to link to it. Importantly, the more high-quality inbound links you have, the higher your content will rank on search engines.

Key metrics: How to start tracking

One of the best ways to track all of this information is by setting up a free account with Google Analytics. A powerful tool, Google Analytics will allow you to monitor your website(s) and analyze a huge amount of data at both the aggregate and individual page level. That way you can find out how specific pieces of content are performing, as well as the overall performance of your content marketing efforts. Signing up is easy and takes just a few minutes. Within a matter of days, Google Analytics will have collected enough data to allow you to start analyzing trends and looking for new insights.

Because Google gives you access to so much information, it can be very helpful to create your own custom dashboard that isolates the metrics that you find most relevant and allows you to compare them over time.

Here’s an example of a basic dashboard I’ve created using Microsoft Excel:

Cain2

To make things even easier, Google Analytics also gives you the option to compile and download reports that will give you a snapshot view of the information you need. Here’s how you can do this:

  • Simply click on the custom report tab.
  • Select the new report option.
  • Specify the metrics you’d like your report to include.

No matter how you do it, if you have the discipline to look at your key metrics for measuring marketing effectiveness on a weekly basis, you will be much more in tune with how your content is performing. Once you’ve mastered this, then try putting some of the data into chart form to make it easier to identify trends.

The example below displays page views for my company’s corporate site, content site, and blog for a span of six weeks. Displaying the data this way makes it easy to see, for instance, that there were significant spikes in page views during the weeks of September 13 and October 11, and that in both instances, much of the increase was isolated to a single site. Being able to easily see trends and outliers makes it easier to identify what’s working and what isn’t so that you can replicate or adjust as needed.

Cain3

In addition to the basic metrics noted above, there are two other important things to take note of: the number of comments and the number of shares your content gets — both are strong indicators of engagement. Any time that people are taking the time to post a comment about your content or to share it with others, it’s a great sign.

References

http://putnam-consulting.com/philanthropy-411-blog/philanthropy/effective-comm-planning/

https://thornleyfallis.ca/is-it-time-to-rethink-the-r-a-c-e-model/

http://www.mycustomer.com/news/infographic-meet-consumer-2015

http://www.vendhq.com/university/retail-trends-and-predictions-2015

http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2012/10/measuring-marketing-effectiveness-metrics/

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