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Measuring and benchmarking internal communications


Yesterday, I listened in on a webinar put together by Melcrum and Newsweaver titled, "Measuring and benchmarking internal communications." For the price (it was free), I'm glad I signed up.

Melcrum I'm very familiar with and was a former member in a past life, but Newsweaver was new to me. They are an email marketing company but also have an internal communications spin so it interested me. 

The webinar promised I would learn:

  • Methods to measure engagement.
  • How you can meet IC objectives with engaging & interactive communications.
  • Tips for creating timely, targeted and relevant communications.
  • How to improve the flow of information across organizations.

Measurement is one area where a lot of internal communicators struggle so any advice or tips on the topic are certainly welcomed by the industry. I did take some screen shots throughout the webinar and found some of the data quite interesting. 


Melcrum Newsweaver webinar internal communications tools

I'm assuming some of this data came direct from Melcrum (thanks to the handy little logo on the left). It's no surprise that of the tools currently used Email ranks as numero uno. The almighty intranet came in second and leadership communication (face to face communication) rounded out the top 3. 

Of the tools communicators were planning to use, social networking and blogs were at the top. Again, no surprise, but it was disappointing to see video still so far down the list. I'm not quite sure why video isn't being used (now or in future plans) when it's so easy to do. 

The saddest part of all in this chart? That so many were stopping the use of newsletters. In my opinion, it's not because newsletters have become irrelevant. Oh no. It's because people have grown tired of doing them. 


Melcrum Newsweaver internal communication effectiveness

Now with this slide, I'm not questioning the data at all. I'm questioning the data source. I have yet to talk to an honest communicator would would claim that their intranet is the most effective part of their internal communication strategy.

I was with a Symon prospect in Baltimore just this week where the talk was around the ineffectiveness of their intranet and email communication. Funny enough, those rank #1 and #2 on this chart. This company is looking at touch screen digital signage to provide an interactive communication platform for all workers, those with and without computers. 

If this chart reflected time spent on communication vehicles, I bet it would look pretty similar. Time spent does not equal effectiveness. 


aon hewitt icons

Now I thought this was a pretty cool idea. Aon Hewitt has an icon-based system for signaling to employees not just the urgency of the content but who the audience is for that content. The example shown looks to be on an intranet page.

But this same set of ideas could be applied to a printed newsletter (gasp!) or even a digital signage screen, touch or non-touch. It's a subtle way ot teeing up the content for the audience. You know if you see a red dot, it's important. Or if it's a green dot, no rush. I'd love to hear direct from an Aon Hewitt employee on how this works for them. 

If employees trust the level of prioritization, it could work across multiple platforms. 


The rest of the webinar went on to talk about the benefits of engaging design (big thumbs up), the value of surveys and polls, as well as storytelling (one of my personal favorites). All great topics. 

But "benchmarking" is another interesting area to discuss. Denise Cox, a lead consultant for Newsweaver, led the webinar and shared that internal emails have a 52% open rate. That's Newsweaver's "benchmark." In this case, that was the average across all of their clients as I understand it. 

Benchmarking is something that organizations have done for a long time for a lot of good reasons. But there are also some inherent dangers of benchmarking. By just trying to be as good as everybody else, are you really challenging how great your organization can be.

If you get a 52% open rate on your internal emails, is that good? If you compare it to the benchmark, it is. If you think that half of your company isn't reading the communication you're sending, that isn't good. So while benchmarking can be a part of measurement and comparison, don't let it hold your communications creativity at bay. 

/end rant