Webinar Recap: How to Measure Effectiveness of Your Digital Outreach and Communications

Digital.gov’s Federal Communicators Network (FCN) held an event in July 2022 with a panel of federal communications and marketing leaders on best practices and guidance on measurement effectiveness of digital marketing, outreach, and communication efforts.

Speakers included Alexis Lennon from the Department of State and Amy Thompson from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The event was moderated by Raashee Gupta Erry, White House Presidential Innovation Fellow and Chair of FCN. 

Panelists shared their experiences, lessons learned, and best practices for what works in federal government agencies that have robust programs reaching a diverse American public. Key themes covered were:

  • Measuring blended communication campaigns
  • Defining which key performance indicators (KPI) to evaluate when selecting channels
  • Leveraging tools and methods to access and measure data
  • Analyzing data to tell stories, share results, and demonstrate impact

4 Takeaways for Measuring Effectiveness

Panelists provided four tips for measuring the effectiveness of your campaigns and outreach:

  1. Measuring effectiveness requires setting KPIs (key performance indicators) early on, and reviewing them often in conjunction with the program and the action that is expected from the audience. These KPIs should be channel-specific, i.e., social media engagement, which is good to measure a tactic. But measurement of program success needs to have holistic KPIs as well i.e., audience reached or net new reach, or actions on the website to truly measure the impact on the American public.

  2. Create a culture of education and storytelling to proactively get buy-in from stakeholders. It doesn’t have to be a complex interactive dashboard or data visualization if your organization is not there. It can be small and simple such as a one page snapshot of results like views, shares, followers. Important is that you show a week over week or a month over month progression based on the length of the program. This will build credibility for you, your team and your strategies but also gives senior leadership sound bites to socialize building support for your organization at a large.

  3. Testing at various stages during the lifecycle of your program is important for continued success. A/B testing pre-launch via focus groups is very effective and critical when you have a message that is complex, has a diverse audience, or a very selective audience. Digital communications and outreach also provide a real-time opportunity for testing and optimization by putting out relevant iterations of messaging on various platforms. Over time, you will develop a strong understanding of what resonates best with your audience—but it is critical to keep a test-and-learn approach to ensure that your message and visuals are always resonating with your customers.

  4. Work with your IT department to supplement existing approved tools with free tools, and/or solutions that your contractors may have access to; they can help you to make sure the tools are secure and accessible. A sample toolbox could contain:

    • Website measurement: Google Analytics and Digital Analytics Program (DAP).
    • Social media growth: native analytics built within social media platforms.
    • Audience engagement: social media management and monitoring tools.
    • Email marketing measurement: reporting tools to streamline and analyze external outreach.
    • Plug-ins or extensions for internal email programs: to create mobile-friendly, responsive design emails and measure engagement.
    • Paid advertising: contractor-provided access or information.

Establishing KPIs, sharing data driven insights, instituting a test-and-learn approach, and leveraging relevant tools are best practices to effectively measure communications and outreach programs. All of these suggestions can be applicable to any and all programs, agnostic to the size and goals. Based on your organizational culture and process, you can start small and iterate over time.