This is a modified version of a post I wrote for Spin Sucks earlier this year.
Are you tracking the effectiveness of your online content with offline results?
Let me step back and explain why I’m asking this question.
My Bernese Mountain Dog Jackson is really big. He has hip and elbow dysplasia, poor baby because the bones in his major joints grew too fast and don’t meet properly causing him pain and major problems.
Things came to a head earlier this year. I won’t bore you with the details, but our local vet wasn’t able to help us. So I did what anyone very concerned fur mom would do. I turned to the Internet for research.
In the course of my very targeted, long tail search, I came across an article in the Seattle Times titled “An Ailing Pup’s Owner Goes the Distance to Get Help.”
The story immediately tugged at my emotional heart strings. It told how Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital came to the rescue for this man and his dog’s issues. The “Mayo Clinic” for animals, it said, is only four hours from me and I had no idea.
I called the very next morning and made an appointment for the following week. Three days of visits, radiographs, CT scans, and arthroscopic surgery later, the ROI on that one Seattle Times story was <cough> more than decent.
The article was dated 2003.
No one asked me how I heard about them. And because the nature of their business is for me to pick up the phone and call, they have no digital path with which to record my conversion from that one story.
What have we learned so far?
- Stories do work. We know that. Your product or service is solving someone’s problem. Get those stories out there!
- Stories last a really long time. Our clients tend to want to see their stories in print; but online provides way more value over time.
The Two Missing Links in Your Content Strategy:
- Be your customers’ super hero. Don’t just make a human connection. Solve problems. Come to the rescue! I was desperate for help. Each and every organization should be in existence for that purpose. And therefore, each every organization has that story(ies) to share.
- Don’t rely on technology alone to track it for you. Please, for the love of all things good in your storytelling, integrate your traditional with your digital tactics. Keep an inventory of your stories on the web, and make sure your point of sale and front line people are asking the right tracking questions. Don’t just say “internet.” Ask them which story. I know a majority of people don’t know how they found you, but for those people to whom you “came to their rescue?” They will remember, and you can then assign ROI to that piece of content.
One article from 2003. Can you imagine how much revenue that has brought in for them in the past nine years? And yet, they say PR is just a bunch of fluff. We have to do the extra work to do our own PR.
By the way, Jackson has fully recovered from surgery and is happily playing in the snow these days.