This is where you establish how you will evaluate the effectiveness of each tactic and strategy you built in the action plan. These need to be selected before implementation so that the evaluation is built into the tactics you are pursuing. Your evaluation methods must also be able to be examined throughout the time that the communication plan is being used so that adjustments can be made. Finally, it must be possible to do a final evaluation after the planned timeframe finishes so that your next communications plan can improve upon this one. Remember that evaluation also requires some of your budget.
Evaluation is often left to the wayside because it is often seen as not directly contributing to the campaign or because the immediate needs become more pressing than evaluation appears to be. This is a critical mistake, because without evaluation, there is no way of know if your efforts in other areas are worthwhile. Good evaluation can provide the consistent improvement and credibility that many small organizations need to be able to stand out.
Evaluation can be both based on numbers or descriptions. For example, number of customer complaints as a percentage of monthly customers would be a great way to evaluate over time whether your product quality is going up, and combined with a survey evaluating customer service satisfaction can determine the effectiveness of your customer service communications. Finding appropriate ways to evaluate your communications is important to ensure that you can improve upon it.
Some examples of description based evaluation can be recording the comments that your clients or customers use when asked about your product or service. These responses can be gathered in focus groups, surveys, informal interviews, and follow up conversations for example. Don’t feel limited by these options, as there are many other ways of evaluating. You just have to make sure that your evaluation is consistent so that it can be used to compare over time, and that it is accurate in reflecting how your audiences are responding to your messages.
Interim evaluation is important for long running and continuous communications. Before you start, you should decide how often you will check in on the evaluation. This can include daily, weekly, or monthly evaluation, or some combination of the three. Anything less than monthly loses track of where the effectiveness is, and you start to lose the flexibility to change direction if something isn’t working, or if a specific area is doing exceptionally well. There should also be an annual review where the overall campaign can be examined and changes for the next year’s plan can be made.