Moving from ‘how many?’ to ‘why?’ By Mazen Nahawi, CEO, CARMA.

At the core of communications work is the objective of driving individuals to action. With
audience attention increasingly fractured across multiple channels, communicators are
faced with a daunting task: they must find their audiences and quickly connect with them in ways that compel them to take action. The right measurement strategy can help communicators identify what specific factors motivate an audience to act, increasing the success rate of a programme.

It’s harder than ever to find and reachyour audience
Today, reaching your audience is becoming increasingly more complex and costly. There
are more ways than ever to connect with your consumers across mobile, digital, social, print, broadcast and outdoor media. Couple that with limited organic reach on channels such as Twitter and Facebook and the spiralling costs of social media influencers, and you’re on a path to an expensive outreach programme. It stands to reason that when you do reach your audience, you need to deliver a compelling message that resonates with them and drives action.

Knowing what motivates your audience is vital to connecting with them
Social media has given rise to a new demographic, a demographic that can no longer be defined by their age, income, nationality or even gender, but rather shared interests and values. Instagram and Snapchat are perfect examples of prominent social media channels in the Middle East where large groups coalesce around shared interests. However, there is very little by way of automated analytics to understand theseaudience groups, the content they share and what drives their engagement. Given the rising importance of creating meaningful interactions with your audience, a combined approach to tracking and evaluating what motivates them will help support the successful creation of relevantand personalised content.

How to find the answer to the “why” that motivates action
Creating messaging and visual content that accurately reflects your brand’s positioning and represents the consumers’ needs and interests requires more than just automated analytics that focus on the “how many”; it demands the “why”. The why is what characterises audience perceptions, attitudes, needs and behaviours, and it is these that give purpose to your marketing and  communications strategies. Automated analytics, which are predominantly quantitative by nature, describe the “how many” in terms of number of followers, posts, mentions, shares, likes, reach, even positive and negative interactions via the integration of AI tools. These offer a basic overview of communications performance in near real time, highlighting the peaks and troughs over time. What they cannot identify is what is driving those changes in performance, nor do they offer insight into the specific elements of your campaigns and messaging that resonate with your audience and trigger action.
If you want to understand what it is about your product, service or campaign that fosters loyalty or action on the part of your audience, you will need to ask them. Qualitative studies are designed to get at the “why”, and having this information at hand in addition to your quantitative metrics allows you to dig deep and uncover the emotional connections your audience has with your brand.
Understanding the “why” enables the interpretation of the available user information and content in the context of the specific brand and communications objectives, providing more insight than using quantitative metrics alone when it comes to communications planning and strategy.

An integrated approach closes the loop
Market research then completes the measurement loop by offering brands a holistic understanding of target consumers from a cognitive and emotional standpoint, so that you can shape products, experiences and campaigns that connect with them. Personalising the consumer experience through specific messaging that primes emotive connections and reciprocates the perceived needs of the consumer results in improved returns on your marketing spend.
An integrated approach, combining these methods, provides the most accurate insights you can have to date. To truly get value for money on your communications outreach and measurement programme, it’s imperative that you are specific in your objectives. A global or even regional measurement programme that is not tied to specific business objectives is simply a measurement of output, not impact.
The implementation of a communications measurement programme that provides such comprehensive insight has the advantage over ones that solely rely on quantitative metrics. Incorporating qualitative data provides another dimension to your target audience – and an understanding of the “why” that motivates an individual to take an action.