The single most valuable resource for any political campaign or issue group is cash. Much time and effort is spent raising it, and cash is needed in order to exist, to operate and definitely to win. With this being so valuable, it should unquestionably be protected and used wisely, yet so often this is not the case.
Today there are more resources available than ever before to measure the return on investment (ROI) for everything you and your consultants do. Many of today’s campaigns fight hard to raise money, yet they don’t match that effort to protect it from being squandered.
Here are five ways to gauge ROI in your political campaign or issue effort:
- Develop KPIs
We always say that campaigns are like startups and some parallel businesses better than others. Every successful business develops key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure how effective they are at meeting objectives. Assuming your campaign defines objectives, now layer in ways to measure how your efforts align towards meeting those goals. For example, if your objective is to identify 1,500 strong supporters with door knocks, you might discover that it will take 10,750 knocked doors to accomplish that objective. This discovery leads you on a journey to uncover the number of door knockers you will need, the time you’ll need to spend on this activity, etc.
It may be difficult at first to make sense of what is necessary to measure and how to gauge value. Many consultants are distracted by vanity metrics and lose focus by measuring numbers that don’t matter. Taking the time to clearly match KPIs to objectives will help you decide when it is helpful to measure clicks and impressions or when you need the deeper insights of knocks and calls.
The easiest way to think of this is to question how every effort leads to engagement, votes or persuasion. Find resources that allow you to measure those types of conversions. Most importantly, write down your KPIs and track them weekly and, toward the end, daily.
- Make Everything Measurable
With the disdain of yard signs aside, many campaigns and groups use them. Maybe it’s because they’re ingrained in the industry or just an exercise in vanity. Has any candidate ever been able to tell us how many votes or conversions came from using them?
We are getting used to technology and tactics to gain insights from and track many activities, but with today’s available resources, we should be tracking all activities. If this seems impossible or foreign to you, it may be time to update to systems/software that measures all the routine activities in a campaign.
When you know how many calls or knocks it takes to create a conversion, you can decide how many volunteers to recruit. If you can measure how many households are engaging with your mail piece versus a television commercial, you can better determine the percentage of your budget to accommodate the best strategies. Look at it like a funnel – if you need one voter to come out of the bottom, how many do you need to put in the top to achieve that result?
- Track Your Efforts
You also want to include pieces that generate reporting so you will know how things are tracking. Do you know how much activity it takes to get one supporter? Again, if you can’t tie back your conversions from all your activities, it may be time look into a different system.
When you can make these connections, you’ll gain better insights to how you should allocate resources along with a clearer picture of how your efforts are affecting your audience.
- Avoid Outdated Systems
Dinosaurs have their place… in a museum. If you’re relying on the systems and processes of old to track your efforts, you’re not keeping pace in the modern world of campaigns and issue advocacy. Just because it may be scary to make the leap, pretending to do so is dangerous.
Find an expert or develop systems that manage the entire process – from target development to identification to conversion. With everything under one roof and easily accessible, you will know more about your audience and see how every effort is contributing to conversions and your end goal – winning.
- Don’t Rely Solely on Instincts
Instincts can only go so far. Although it’s important to have good ones, when it comes to gauging your effectiveness, they cannot be your only guide. Combine your instincts with clearly defined, measurable metrics. Make sure you have access to visualize these metrics continually and consistently so you stay on top of the bottom line.
You have to know what drives your conversions – votes, supporters, whatever it is. Is it impactful to have thousands of impressions for an ad if you can’t tell how many new supporters you receive as a result? Your instincts tell you it was a great ad – that’s why you developed it. That’s great, but you need to amplify that by discovering the tangible measurements of its success.
Imagine the Possibilities
Can you measure absolutely everything that has an impact on how you reach the finish line? No. Some things have no definable metric to be assigned – public awareness, social pressure and earned media to name a few – but we’re constantly developing new ways of defining these types of results. Still, realizing everything can’t be measure is not an excuse for not measuring everything you can.
Take the time to access how you are gauging ROI now for your campaign or organization. If any of these points hit a nerve, it may be time to speak to an expert or research new systems that better help you measure and meet your objectives. You work hard for the money you have, now protect it and be more effective in the process.