In our latest ebook, Influence and impact, we provide insight on how to influence your audience, using techniques from behavioural science, advertising, storytelling and the work of persuasion experts.
But the real test of influence is whether it leads to outcomes.
Most B2B marketers will be looking for evidence that influence will lead to a tangible commercial or brand return: increased sales and inbound enquiries, stronger long-term relationships with customers and other stakeholders such as investors or employees, and even enhanced pricing power and customer life-time value.
Measuring the impact of influence
The Thought Leadership Network report Proving our value explains how the traditional metrics for content – the so-called engagement KPIs such as downloads, bounce rates and open rates – are poor ways to determine whether content has had any real influence. They tell you whether people have engaged with your content, but they reveal little about whether it has encouraged them to think or act differently.
Measuring influence, as opposed to engagement, is challenging. But it is possible. It typically requires a combination of quantitative research methods: brand surveys, social media sentiment analysis, media/PR metrics, and qualitative input such as anecdotes and examples from client-facing teams.
There are numerous metrics that you can use to track influence, and numerous indicators that can suggest content is having a positive impact by encouraging tangible outcomes. We recommend thinking about the components of influence and then determining the most suitable metrics to assess performance in each.
The four dimensions of influence
Expertise. The audience trusts your knowledge and ability to solve their problems.
Empathy. The audience sees you as an ally and has a positive, open relationship with your brand.
Practicality. The audience is confident that you can solve their specific problems.
Brand strength. Your business is one the audience wants to work with – and they feel comfortable about their association with you.
The graphic below shows these four dimensions of influence and provides some metrics for tracking performance.
Some of these metrics may be harder to measure and track than others. But by ensuring you have a robust and repeatable method for collecting reliable and consistent data on each of these metrics – and that you have an effective platform with which to report back to the business – you can start to demonstrate the impact your content is having on creating preference for your brand.
For more on measuring thought leadership outcomes, read our blog: A new approach to gauging thought leadership impact.