Posts filed under ‘Web metrics’

Evaluating online communication tools

Online tools, such as corporate websites, members’ directories or portals increasingly play an important role in communications’ strategies.  And of course,  they are increasingly important to evaluate.

I just concluded an evaluation of an online tool, created to facilitate the exchange of information amongst a specific community. The tool in question, the Central Register of Disaster Management Capacities is managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The evaluation methodology that I used for evaluating this online tool is interesting as it combines:

  • Content analysis
  • Network mapping
  • Online survey
  • Interviews
  • Expert review
  • Web metrics

And for once, you can dig into the methodology and findings as the evaluation report is available publicly: View the full report here (pdf) >>

November 9, 2009 at 9:25 pm Leave a comment

Communications evaluation – 2009 trends


Last week I gave a presentation on evaluation for communicators (pdf) at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. A communicator asked me what trends had I seen in communications evaluation, particularly relevant to the non-profit sector. This got me thinking and here are some of the trends I have seen in 2008 that I believe are an indication of some directions in 2009:

Measuring web & social media: as websites and social media increasingly grow in importance for communication programmes, so to is the necessity to have the capacity to measure what their impact is. Web analytics has grown in importance as will the ability to measure social media.

Media monitoring not the be-all and end-all: after many years of organisations only focusing on media monitoring as the means of measuring communications, there is finally some realisation that media monitoring is an interesting gauge of visibility but not more. Organisations are now interested more and more in having some qualitative analysis of data collected (such as looking at how influential the media are, the tone and the importance).

Use of non-intrusive or natural data:  organisations are also now considering “non-intrusive” or “natural” data – information that already exists – e.g. blog / video posts, customer comments, attendance records,  conference papers, etc.  As I’ve written about before, this data is underated by evaluators as everyone rushes to survey and interview people.

Belated arrival of results-based management: Despite existing for over 50 years, results-based management or management by objectives is just arriving in many organsations. What does this mean for communicators? It means that at the minimum they have to set measurable objectives for their activities – which is starting to happen. They have no more excuses(pdf) for not evaluating!


December 23, 2008 at 6:08 pm 3 comments

Key performance indicators for non-profit websites

i’m just back from my first Web Analytics Wednesday (that’s their logo above), held here in Lausanne, Switzerland. I’m interested in web analytics (as I’ve written about before) as it is can be a key component in measuring communications activities today.

The focus of this get-together was on Key Performance Indicators – and in particular KPI for non-profit websites. Here are some of the KPI suggested:

– Bounce rate – number of persons visiting only one page compared to number of people visiting more than one page or vice-versa

– Length of visit (time) – compared to same time last year/month/week

– Depth of visit (number of pages) – compared to same time last year/month/week

And quite some interesting KPI for search:

– Number of visitors using search

– Average number of searches per visit

– % of zero search results (my favorite -high % means people don’t find what they are looking for!)

These are all interesting IKP to think about in monitoring website usage – it also is a good addition to the standard measures usually looked at (e.g. number of visitors and page views).

As we discussed during the get-together, some of these IKP need to be taken in the particular context. Take for example “depth of visit” (average number of pages viewed per visitor). A lot of pages viewed can be both positive and negative. It can mean that someone is really doing some in-depth browsing – or it can mean that someone doesn’t find what they want and is clicking everywhere on the site. A solution was suggested by the WAW moderator, Jmarc Vandenabeele – combine both depth and length (time) of visits. If you have short visits with a lot of pages viewed it could be negative (sign that visitors are clicking on many pages in a short time to find something) whereas long visits with a lot of pages viewed could be more positive.


December 3, 2008 at 9:21 pm Leave a comment

Measuring social media

An interesting post from the Buzz Bin which provides a good summary of current thoughts on how to measure social media such as blogs, social networks and podcasts. Well worth a read…


January 8, 2008 at 8:00 pm Leave a comment

Measuring online behaviour – statistics to indicators

I’ve written previously about measuring online behaviour and how it can be linked to overall PR evaluation. I found of interest the recent news from Nielsen that they will now rank websites by time spent on sites rather than number of pages viewed. Interesting, as this is a recognition that an indirect indication of “interest” or “engagement” is the amount of time spent on a website, e.g. watching a video, clicking through a slide presentation, reading a text, etc.

When looking at measuring online behaviour, I’ve seen quite some organisations simply drowning in data from web metric software packages and are unable to pull out a real analysis of what they have achieved – or not through the web.

Ultimately indicators should be set to measure success by. These could be:

  • “engagement” (average time spent on website),
  • “interest” (number of podcast downloaded),
  • “conversion” (number of sign-ups for a sales offer),
  • “preferences” (growth in visits to a new language version) ,
  • etc., etc .

On a related note, when thinking about how to measure online social networking, the Measurement Standard blog provides an interesting list of suggested indicators to measure.


July 17, 2007 at 7:48 pm 2 comments

Beware: dodgy Blog ROI in circulation

Forrester Research have published a new report on the “ROI of blogging” (at USD $ 379 a pop). And I’ve seen that many bloggers have jumped on this with utmost enthusiasm.

Well hold on….

Although Charlene Li of Forrester explains well the ROI model there are some fundamental flaws of the ROI calculation that KD Paine and David Phillips explain further. As KD Paine put it:

“The false assumptions and inaccuracies in this report are scary”

What is the main flaw? Well, the whole blog ROI calculation falls down as it is based on comparing purchased advertising to editorial content, which is a highly discredited way of measuring PR value (read more about comparing advertising to editorial content in this report (pdf) by some leading scholars).

The report does have some interesting points in that it attempts to pull out some of benefits of blogging (such as customer insights) and comparing this to the cost of market research). Certainly the idea of showing how visibility grows from a blog post (through generating comments, thoughts and referrals) to changes in attitudes and behaviors is heading in the right direction, as I’ve written about before.

And as for blogging ROI, I would look more at the cost of working hours in blogging and comparing it to working hours needed to mount a traditional campaign – and comparing the changes to behaviour and attitude using both methods (admittedly easier said than done). That would be more a measure of “efficiency” than anything else.


February 16, 2007 at 8:32 am 1 comment

Measuring Online Behaviour – Part 2

Further to my earlier post on measuring online behaviour, I would recommend this article in Brandweek. The article (which I read about on K D Paine’s blog), explains well the current practices of many companies in tracking online behaviour (particularly linked to online campaigns). It goes in the direction that I think – that is, in the online environment, we can measure behaviour of publics to supplement “offline” measurement.

I encourage companies to focus on performance indicators, that moves away from looking at visit statistics and more into what actions are undertaken by a user when visiting a website, for example: referral (referring a page/issue to a friend), commitment (signing-up or endorsing a given activity) or task completion (completing an action online – e.g. playing a game, requesting information, etc.).

Some point of interest I noted from this article:

– Time spent looking at a web feature is an important measure for some campaigns

– IBM looks at registrations and opt-ins as success measures for campaigns

– The Pharmaceutical industry is increasingly turning to online measurement as more and more patients seek medical information online.


August 27, 2006 at 8:36 pm Leave a comment

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