Marketing Communication Measurements That Matter with Andy Hilton

Andy Hilton

Marketing and Communications Measurements that Matter with Andy Hilton of ADP

With such a wide range of channels being used to market to prospects comes a variety of ways to measure the success of a campaign. Not every marketer values each metric the same way, or uses the same tools to gather those insights.

We tapped our friend Andy Hilton, vice president communications and brand for payroll and HR software giant ADP, to share his thoughts on which marketing and communications measurements are important.

Andy has 20 years of agency and corporate communications experience so he knows a thing or two about which measurements to focus on and what tools use.

Arketi Group: Why does marketing and communications measurement matter at ADP?

Andy Hilton: It’s important for us to measure so we can understand the effectiveness of the dollars invested, optimize our work and to better understand how we stack up against competitors.

At a brand level, we measure to distinguish how the outcomes are impacting the ADP brand. We measure messaging to understand if it resonates with our target audiences. In campaigns, we measure to understand if a specific campaign is creating the desired outcomes. We are seeking to know if it was the best course of action.

As much as we use measurement to grade our papers, it’s just as important for providing what I like to call “in-game intel" - information we can use to adjust and optimize while we are delivering and executing to ensure we reach a desired outcome.

What marketing and communications measurements matter most to ADP?

On the PR side, we do a strong job of measurement — and we've become increasingly sophisticated. In the last 12 months, we’ve improved measurement to keep tabs on how we're performing and used data to fine-tune our approach and make any “in-game” adjustments. 

We look at all the things you might expect us to look at in terms of reach, impressions, sentiment and share of voice. Share of voice is important to us, but we’re most interested in engagement. Our engagement metric employs social sharing as a proxy for online interactions. We believe the more you see, the more you know – the more engaging the content, story or idea, the more times you will see it on social media. 

When it comes to content, we're looking at new individuals who we can introduce to the ADP brand. We do that by bringing organic search traffic to our content marketing properties. Our content marketing strategy aims to increase the relevance of ADP among target audiences – to connect with them on content that matters to the both of us. The more eyeballs we're attracting to the ADP properties, the greater the opportunity to engage them and bring them deeper into the sales funnel. So, in the case of content marketing, organic search traffic is of paramount importance to us. 

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Are there any red herrings in measuring that you have discovered during your career?

I don't think there’s anything I've come across in the last couple years I consider a useless or potentially dangerous metric. I tend to look at them all, but at the same time, there's no golden metric that can give you the whole story, or enough insight to act and make well-informed decisions without supporting metrics or evidence.

I think you need to look at all the data points and assemble a story, then challenge yourself to make sure that the data you see depicts a clear representation of the truth. 

If you could only measure one thing in marketing and communications for ADP, what would it be?

It would be engagement. As marketers and communicators, our ability to connect with people to earn their trust and have deeper conversations is the most important thing we can do. We're not just sitting around pumping out content or doing social media just to get shares – that would be a different strategy – we're doing it to get the right kind of shares.

The right share for ADP is someone who we serve, sharing content that we helped produce among their influencer networks. In return, this tells us we've shared an idea or a perspective that resonates — whether they agree with it or not — and is valuable enough they want others in their network to apply or share the idea. 


“…there's no golden metric that can give you the whole story, or enough insight to take action and make well-informed decisions without supporting metrics.”

Andy Hilton, vice president communications & brand for ADP

What’s the most cost effective measurement you have found during your career?

I would say content marketing metrics provide the fullest story. It’s the most real-time view that costs us nothing to measure through organic search and traffic to our owned online properties.

It instantly tells us if we’re onto an idea that is connected and if it has contextual relevance for the markets we serve, or if it’s something people care about.

You can get a sense of that quickly by looking at how traffic is coming to your properties — especially when you isolate those properties that are not benefiting from paid media or even traditional PR work. You're literally trying to tap into an ethos of the world that you're serving by understanding what it is they're searching for. 

What tool(s) do you recommend for measurement and why?

In the last year, we completed our PR measurement and engagement through a service called PublicRelay. Their model is effective in terms of providing a PR measurement solution that is a hybrid of technology-enabled media measurement with a smart overlay of human evaluation. It helps ensure we're applying the right context to how we evaluate earned media.

The tool also makes it easy for us to dig into the analytics. From there, we’re able to understand what's driving our success and dial-up or dial-down where we are spending our time to ensure we aren’t chasing our tails on a topic or with an outlet that ultimately won’t deliver impact.

PublicRelay serves our needs in a cost-effective way, in real time. It helps us avoid waiting for monthly reports. We can simply log in and see how we're performing across various competitive stats versus various themes and messages.

Thank you, Andy for these insights on communications measurements that matter.

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