Conduct process evaluation
What is it?
Process evaluation looks at whether the intervention worked as planned. Here you are concerned with how it was implemented and functioned.
Why do this?
- This is a vial element in social marketing. Without it, you will be able to assess outcomes, but not how they were achieved. You will need this information to have a fuller picture about why the intervention has been successful or not. More >
Hamilton et al. (1977), in their book Beyond the Numbers Game, make the case for process evaluation: “It’s rather like a critic who reviews a production on the basis of the script and the applause meter readings, having missed the performance.”
How might you do this?
- Think about, and take account of, the context (the social, cultural, political, and economic environment) in which the intervention has been delivered, as this will have a bearing on what you have been able to achieve. More >
For example, in some parts of the UK (and among some social groups), smoking is much more prevalent than the national average. Consequently, the effectiveness of a social marketing intervention will be influenced by its social context and this context should be taken into account in any evaluation
- Include awareness (or ‘reach’) as one of your measures of effectiveness, because if customers are not aware of your intervention, there is little chance of things changing
- Consider how much (or ‘dose’) of what you are delivering the target audience will receive. More >
For example, if your audience is not receiving as much of the intervention (for example, the number of presentations to the GP) that you expected, this could indicate problems in the delivery of your plan. Another possible reason for a lower than expected ‘dose’ being received could be that the audience is not responding to the offer or key messages in the way you expected
- Take account of the possibility of some ‘project drift’: where the intervention has moved to some degree from key objectives. More >
This can often happen where there are many players involved with their own ideas and agendas. For example, implementation plans based on robust scoping research may drift off course and look very different in terms of exchange, the propositions and the marketing mix. In evaluation, it is important to assess this. Many good ideas are judged to be ineffective and discarded when in fact the evaluation has assessed something which has drifted considerably from the original idea
- Strong project management is required to keep the implementation process on track and avoid project drift, particularly where there are many players involved in delivery
- Monitoring data that will allow you to assess if the intervention is on track and if not, where you might be able to refine and strengthen it
- Corrective actions that can be made during the implementation process, and an understanding of how to deliver a similar intervention better in future