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Digital Engagement Series: Align measurable objectives with communications

We recently published a thought leadership piece on how digital marketing leads to better public engagement. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will break down each step so you can put our plan to practice within your own organization. The following post will explore “Step 1” of the series, creating marketing goals, objectives, and tactics to maximize your engagement.


How does your organization define success? Success starts with answering why you’re communicating to begin with.

Success ladder

What Are Performance Measures?

Many marketers view goals as mysterious, abstract ideas. They shouldn’t be. Performance measures help define, clarify, and analyze your engagement efforts, and compare them to the results you achieve. Above else, they set a baseline for your organization to benchmark results.

It’s proven that goal setting for marketing streamlines communications from within as well. It helps your internal team by:

  • Empowering, aligning and focusing teams and colleagues
  • Managing senior management
  • Understanding a campaign within a wider marketing activity context

Spend as much time planning your communications campaign as you would executing your tactics.

Performance measures are broken down into the following categories:

  • Agency goals
  • Agency objectives
  • Agency tactics

Keep in mind that your performance measures should be SMART — specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time bound. Using SMART performance measures can be the difference between a successful campaign and a flop.

S: Answers the 5 W’s – “Who, what, where, when and why”
M: Progress can be measured
A: Resources match what you can accomplish
R: It is reachable
T: It is bound within a specific time frame

Let’s dive into each performance measure in detail.

Agency Goals

Agency goals are long term and broad. They are the purpose toward which all endeavors — including objectives and tactics — are directed. Always start your strategic planning with a goal as your tactics and objectives will follow suit once you’ve identified this.

Most communication campaigns have a goal, but then again, not all do. Many organizations “shoot from the hip” and execute various marketing tactics without an overarching goal. Goals, in my opinion, could be the most difficult to set because they are the most vague. But if you follow the SMART acronym, you should be golden.

Here are examples of stand-up goals from our partnership with National Institute of Heath (NIH):

  • “Foster fundamental creative discoveries, innovative research strategies, and their applications as a basis for ultimately protecting and improving health.”
  • “Conduct and support research in the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and cure of human diseases.”

Agency Objectives

Agency objectives should navigate towards your goal. Agency objectives portray key areas of your communications strategy, and are more short term than goals…. Think of them as the building blocks to accomplish a goal. Here are some examples of objectives:

  • Maximize participation
  • Create positive engagement within your online community
  • Increase numbers of subscribers, fans and followers
  • Enhance public awareness
  • Establish thought leadership
  • Drive customer engagement
  • Provide better customer service
  • Increase customer retention
  • Elevate adoption

And, pointing back to the NIH example, here is a real-life objective:
Increase awareness of HIV research results that show the spreading patterns of HIV and the need to increase HIV screenings.

Communication Tactics

Communication tactics align with and drive towards an objective, in support of the overall agency goal. They are specific campaign types that are executed — like emails, social channels, text messaging, event registration pages, website content and blog content. Within any campaign, there can be multiple tactics. But, each tactic MUST coincide with your goal and objective.

Here are a few great examples of tactics, again taken from the NIH campaign:

  • GovDelivery Network drives an increase in audience growth, increasing the number of people NIH reaches with HIV research findings
  • Segmentation allows NIH to communicate different components of an HIV campaign to Physicians, Nurses, Non-Profits, Universities and the Public in a way that resonates with them.
  • Web content automation allows NIH to communicate information and warnings about the spread of HIV and the benefits of early screenings from their website directly to their audience.

When you have SMART performance measures, you are able to better analyze your campaigns . Your results will take time to uncover, but it is worth the time… They are the most powerful proof point that shows you moved the dial with your goal setting.

Here are a few examples of goals that could be reached:

  • In 2014, XYZ increase in HIV screenings over 2013.  
  • Instances of late stage HIV reduced by XYZ% in 2014 over 2013

Now you should no longer be communicating in the dark – you understand how strategic planning lends to reaching goals.

Stay tuned for “Step 2: Identify and segment your audience” as part of our digital engagement series next week!