Internal Communication Analytics – what’s behind the numbers?
At first glance, internal communications and analytics are far from each other – assigning numbers and tangible goals to IC campaigns is a much harder task than setting a sales goal such as “increase XY product sales by 15% in the next year“. However, today’s communication platforms and tools offer several ways to track, measure and analyze user activity, making comms professionals’ lifes much easier than before!
Internal communications in numbers
The most evident data to track is the opening rate / clickthrough rate of e-mail newsletters, which can give a good idea of an internal campaign’s effectiveness and the way your company culture works. It’s even more interesting to analyze the trends of these e-mails: how do the opening rates / clickthrough rates vary from one month to another, which e-mails produce the highest rates, and which ones are the “underperfomers” – these can help identify your internal communication’s strengths and weaknesses, and build upon these later on.
To make these analytics trackable, it’s recommended to choose a mailing platform that exceeds Outlook’s capabilities. MailChimp or Maileon for example are great solutions not only for external marketing, but internal comms as well, automatically analyzing user behaviour and collecting data in every sent newsletter. The system handles everything, you only have one more task: find the real meaning behind the numbers!
That’s something that I have experienced as well – when I first started to set up an internal comms dashboard at my workplace, I wanted to highlight too much data and numbers without actually having any key messages and making colleagues feel interested in them. After sorting out the meaningless numbers, changing the structure a little bit and putting a story behind the analytics, the results were much better – now even the leadership can quickly understand and use this “executive summary” of IC metrics.
What else can be tracked? If your workplace has an Intranet platform that’s being used actively, it’s very useful to map your user’s behaviour there as well – although this one hugely depends on the platform you use. For example, a SharePoint Intranet site can go hand in hand with analytics platform of Adobe Omniture, which might seem a little complex at first glance, but provides very deep & detailed data regarding your users’ activities. With Omniture, you can track who are doing what on a given site, how much time do they spend there, where do they click, and so on – the real challenge here is the same one as before, finding the real meaning of the numbers and setting up an action plan based on this.
Trackable communications – beyond the numbers
We’ve talked a lot about statistics and trends, but data doesn’t only exist in the form of numbers. Take a change management campaign for example: how do you track the results of implementing a new software, or moving a team to a new working area? In these cases, the only thing you can analyze is the way your colleagues’ behaviour changes – this is mainly examined through qualitative tools and surveys instead of quantitative aspects. If you happen to face a similar situation, try to make your goals as concrete as possible, e.g. by using the SMART methodology. Set up a deadline, and on that day, answer the question with a simple “Yes” or “No”: “Did I achieve the change I was looking for?“
To sum it up, measuring internal communications in today’s world is not only an option, more like an expectation from the business side. This is the only way you can give feedback to your colleagues, leadership and management team, give them tangible results and success stories, and identify weak points based on numbers. If your IC analytics are not reliable (or worst, doesn’t exist at all), building effective internal communications processes and framework is nearly impossible – that’s why this topic is going to return very frequently to the blog!