The KPIs Of Making A Difference
How to measure the impact of powerful stories + changed lives
Working in digital marketing means accessing (and understanding) data. These metrics (and what we do with them) help determine our campaign KPIs, or—for people who aren’t familiar with this acronym—Key Performance Indicators.
Put simply, KPIs are the benchmarks that demonstrate success for our carefully crafted advertising campaigns. From return on investment, conversion rates, and organic traffic, to generating a leads percentage, we LOVE to assign quantifiable, measurable results to showcase the success of our efforts.
While KPIs are critical to evaluating the success of advertising campaigns and content strategy, I think it’s fair to say that we sometimes lose sight of the stories and messaging that do the work for the data. It’s hard to quantify or put measurable parameters on the emotions and feelings one experiences when consuming (or in this case creating) an advertising campaign. Lucky for me, I was re-introduced to the unquantifiable experience of creative storytelling when my passion became a work opportunity.
A LITTLE leap became a BIG life change
In 2016, I was in my mid-20s living in Milwaukee, and felt that there was something missing from my life. Growing up I was an active volunteer, and I didn’t realize how much that meant to me until I had enough free time to think about what fills my cup. I knew I wanted to give back to my community, so I googled “ways to volunteer with kids in Milwaukee.” Big Brothers Big Sisters was the first organization that popped up. (By the way, that’s a nice SEO win right there.)
The more I learned about the program, the more I wanted to be part of an organization that commits itself to empowering the youth of a city I love so much. After the application, background, and interview process, I got a call from Erin, my Match Support Specialist. (Spoiler alert: Erin has now been invested in our Match going on 6 years). “We have a Little in mind for you,” she said. “She just turned 6. Her name is Bre, all her older siblings are in the program, and she is desperate for a Big. Full disclosure: she has a ton of energy. Are you ready for the next steps?”
My enthusiastic answer was yes, but the true story is that I was not ready. I wasn’t ready for my entire life to be changed through “being a Big,” which is what Big Brother Big Sisters call the adult mentors. The past 6 years with Bre have taught me so much about myself, challenged many preconceived notions and beliefs, forced me to grow in positive ways, and brought one of my very best friends into my life. Growing up together, exploring together, facing life’s challenges together, and eating chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream together quickly evolved from a weekly volunteer opportunity to a passion for helping kids in Milwaukee defend their potential.
When Passion and Profession Collide
It’s now 2022 and here I am, working in account management at EPIC. Great news has made its way through the agency: “We’ve won a new client!” Needless to say, my interest is piqued when I find that this new opportunity is none other than Big Brothers Big Sisters. A grant from Walmart has provided a unique opportunity for all 15 Wisconsin BBBS affiliates to band together to select an agency to execute a multi-channel campaign to recruit more volunteers statewide. The campaign has a special emphasis on Big Brothers and Big Couples, to help alleviate the long waiting list of male youth who are looking for their Big. Representatives of the 15 BBBS affiliates chose EPIC to create and execute the campaign.
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” said Confucious. While incredibly cliche (no offense, Confucious), this statement came to life as my everyday work melded into passion. Planning was in motion. Through social media, digital radio, streaming TV, and a media kit, we’d target potential Bigs to visit our freshly designed landing page and connect to their local agency (check out the landing page here).
We began production planning for the video creative that would run across these channels. Thanks to Jaymee Harvey Willms (former CEO of Washington County and active Big Sister), we spent a day at her family’s property with six Big/Little matches, creating memories and lots of laughs that were captured for our campaign footage. The six Littles each had a fantastic day, with their own personal stories that could be a campaign in itself:
- Ryleigh, age 18: Shared news that she is college-bound with a pre-pharmacy major. Today she got to take a break from her grueling academic schedule and make popcorn over the fire, something she’s never done before.
- Chase, age 14: Bonded with a 6-day-old chick…it was snuggling on him for hours like a kitten.
- Azer, age 14: Whipped up their favorite peanut butter cookie batch from memory, subbing ingredients with whatever was available in the kitchen. They tasted amazing.
- Bre, age 12: Now a quiet introvert, she celebrated her birthday by making new friends and trying a new art medium: watercolors.
- Esayas, age 10: Wants to be an engineer because he loves learning about cars. Today he got to take a ride in a Tesla.
- Josiah, age 9: Josiah has never had a s’more. He quickly mastered this craft and made/ate five. We sent him home with a belly full of sugar as he also ate Azer’s cookies for dessert.
KPIs: Key Passion Indicators?
By all measures, the campaign was a success. With a very modest investment, the campaign had almost 2 million total impressions and drove over 1,000 new users to the statewide website. Almost 15% of the people who went to the website clicked through to volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters. While the data, insights, and campaign optimization are of course important, working on this campaign reminded me that—in successful advertising—stories still matter. Feelings still matter. Showcasing all the beautiful, unique, and joyous aspects that make us people matters. It may not be easily measurable or quantifiable, but it’s a beautiful feeling to reconnect with the power of creative storytelling … especially when the cause holds a special place in your heart.