The city’s Edmonton Stories website is supposed to tell the world why Edmonton is a great place to work, live, play and do business.
This site has cost about $3 million during the past three years and it’s going to cost more. “But it’s working,” say our civic captains of communication. They point out that it has received almost 559,000 visits. That is an impressive number until you realize it amounts to paying $5 for every hit.
It’s even less impressive when you realize that a talking kitten on YouTube got more than 14-million hits in two years. And that’s without the aid of the hundreds of thousands of advertising dollars the city spends to promote the site.
There’s no counter on the Edmonton Stories site. So you and I will just have to accept that the site visit numbers are accurate. However, it’s important to note that there’s a big difference between 559,000 visits and 559,000 unique visits. If I look at a story five times, that counts as five visits.
In any kind of business or organization, ROI is an important acronym. It stands for “return on investment.” Anyone who puts money into any venture expects a return. The desired return is usually set out before hand. This gives you the ability to measure how well your investment is actually doing.
Is it meeting or exceeding the desired ROI?
So what did we get from the site that we would not have gotten otherwise?
“We increased awareness about Edmonton,” might be the answer. To which I would say, “So what?” Awareness and action aren’t the same thing.
If you’ve ever received a speeding ticket, the police officer probably asked you if you were aware of the speed limit. The answer would probably be yes, but clearly, being aware of the speed limit and going at the speed limit are two different things. Do you think people continue to smoke because they are unaware it’s unhealthy?
How many investment dollars flowed into Edmonton because of the site? How many people moved here because of the site? How many tourists came here because of the site? It’s only the answers to those kinds of questions that would tell us if we are getting a decent ROI on our $2.8 million. If there are no answers to those questions, then Edmonton Stories is yet another example of communications flimflam.