What does a meaningful KPI look like?

By Posted in - Measurement and Evaluation on December 7th, 2015 0 Comments

This month on the Pickle Jar blog we are talking about measurement and return on investment (ROI). We’ve already talked about using monitoring and listening tools, but how can you use the information from these to see the impact your marketing and communications activity is having? And how can you demonstrate this impact to your senior leadership colleagues?

This week, we look at the role of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in measuring success, and how you can set the most meaningful KPIs for your organisation.

What are KPIs?

As a consultancy, measurement and reporting are vital in showing success. We work with our clients upfront to agree a set of metrics that will measure the impact of their communications activity. Known as KPIs, these are defined goals and objectives that are referred to throughout a campaign or project, and are an important tool in the marketing arsenal, whether in-house or agency side.

KPIs can be quantitative and qualitative, ranging from target increases in revenue, online visitors and pieces of media coverage secured, to the quality of audience engagement, increased brand awareness and positive reputation.

Establishing your KPIs

Perhaps you’re about to launch a new communications campaign, you’ve got a big event coming up, or you just want to see how effective your current practices are. How can you set the most meaningful KPIs for your organisation?


Here are some questions to ask yourself and your team:

– What are the overarching aims of your organisation? For example, increased student numbers, being seen as a leader in your sector, or greater international outreach?

– How do you see your marketing and communications activity supporting this?

– What does success look like to you and your senior leadership team? Is it purely about numbers, such as increased revenue, meeting project deadlines and more conversations with your target audience, or do you also want to look at qualitative measures such as the quality of engagement and external perceptions of your organisation?

– How do people find it easiest to digest information? Do they want stats on a page, a monthly evaluation report, anecdotal feedback or a combination of all three?


Talk to each other

It’s important in this process to get your whole organisation involved. This means talking to people at a range of levels across different departments (not just the comms team!), finding out what is important to them and what information they need to evaluate success.


If your peers and colleagues know they have an active role in the KPI-setting process, they are more likely to actively engage when it comes to reporting impact.

Integrate, reflect and think strategically

There’s no set right and wrong way to set meaningful KPIs, as they will differ for every organisation. What’s vital is to find out what success looks like to different people, and ensure your measurement process reflects this and explains why specific targets matter.

A list of statistics isn’t going to excite anyone unless it can be linked to specific strategic aims. Why is an increase in web page views good for your organisation? Why might you want more people talking about you on social media, and how can you decide what is positive engagement?

To set KPIs that genuinely support your communications strategy, look beyond the usual marketing measures and talk to those around you. By integrating measurement and evaluation into all aspects of your organisation’s overarching strategy, you will be able to identify far more valuable and meaningful targets to drive your whole organisation forward.


Got a question about content measurement? Get in touch with us.


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