A smart goal for a successful new year!
We hope 2017 is off to a great start! A new year is always a time of reflection and goal setting. Many of us have resolved to live better in 2017 – maybe you strive to exercise more, shed a few pounds, or to spend more time with friends and family.
On a professional level, a new year is often a time for us to evaluate our communication strategies and effectiveness. Yes…as communicators, many of us begin a new year with the goal of focusing on communication measurement. How can we ensure that our communication efforts are actually paying off if we don’t take the time to measure results?
Much like our personal fitness goals, we have the best intentions. Yet, communication measurement can quickly become an afterthought...or, get pushed to the “…I’ll start next month…really” category.
To help you get motivated, we’re sharing a few reasons why you should begin measuring your communication efforts…yesterday! And we’re providing some tips for how to make this resolution a reality in 2017.
Why track and measure?
As communication professionals, we KNOW that effective communication has a direct impact on results – and on a company’s bottom line. A well-executed communication campaign can encourage employees to take action, to feel engaged and motivated, and ultimately drive performance.
When you examine communication effectiveness, think in terms of outputs and outcomes:
- Outputs – this is simply analytics and counts – how many hits did you have, which pages of your site were read most, what feedback have you received, which types of media are most popular, etc.
- Outcomes – an understanding of how well your communication objectives have been met.
There are several different approaches to measuring the outputs of your communication efforts:
- Stats and analytics – look at site visits and page views, average length of time spent on a page, number of comments, etc.
- Intranet “pulse” surveys – consisting of one or two questions, these can be a good way of gaining instant feedback or revealing areas that require additional attention.
- Employee satisfaction surveys – usually conducted annually – larger surveys made up of multiple choice and matrix questions, plus perhaps one or two open-ended questions can provide valuable feedback about employees’ attitudes and perceptions. Be sure to keep it simple and focused on your communication objectives.
- Focus groups – small group meetings or workshops for gathering qualitative rather than quantitative responses about employees’ thoughts and opinions. When conducted before a campaign, a focus group can help you establish a baseline for awareness.
Measuring the outcomes of your communication efforts can be a bit more complicated. It starts with communication planning. Be sure you have a clear understanding of your communication objectives and measurable results before beginning any communication campaign. Then, be sure to do periodic check-ins. What is it that you want to achieve? (For example, maybe you want to increase 401(k) Plan participation by 25%.) How do you want employees to feel? What are the key messages? And, what actions do you want them to take?
Assessing how well you are meeting your objectives during and after a communication launch is a tried and true way to measure the outcome.
Measurement: the secret to smart strategy!
In addition to validating the work we do, measurement gives communicators the intelligence needed to develop smart, results-driven strategies. When you make an upfront investment in establishing your measurement approach, it will payoff two-fold with desired outcomes and happier stakeholders. And, the next time the CEO asks you “how’s it going?”…you’ll have a riveting response!