Measuring communication effectiveness: 4 ways to know you’re nailing it
People analytics can often be a quagmire of numbers.
There are so many things you could potentially measure that it can be frustrating. Especially if the only thing you want to know is, “are we doing well, or not?”
We hear you.
In an effort to keep things simple, we have identified the four most crucial metrics that speak specifically to measuring communication effectiveness.
Like with many employee metrics, some of these numbers are easy to capture and some are not. Having a digital communication platform in place will make it much easier to track the four metrics we’ve listed below, but there are other ways to collect some of these numbers – more on that below.
Also, one caveat: numbers are tricky. No metric will tell the whole story. Part of the magic of workforce analytics is finding the full story behind the numbers, and reacting to that. Again, if you’ve got a communication platform in place, finding the stories that will measure communication effectiveness are exponentially easier when you have robust analytics and an incredible CS team to guide you.
1. Reachable rate
A “reachable rate” basically tells you what percentage of employees that will receive your communications. In other words, it’s the percentage of your workforce that have access to (and are active on) your communications tool.
It’s not just the employees that have your tool – that’s your adoption rate. Reachability is more about who’s actually using it. For example, if you have a digital communication platform like Nudge, your reachable rate would be what percentage of your workforce has downloaded the app and set up an account, and then used the app within the past 90 days.
Email is trickier. If all of your employees had an active company email address, your reachable rate for that tool would technically be 100% – however, a big part of reachability is whether your workforce is actually active on the platform, so email is harder to measure unless you, for example, took into account how many employees have opened an email in the past three months.
Reachability is crucial to measuring communication effectiveness because it tells you what percentage of your workforce you actually have access to. You could be sending the most engaging employee communications in the world, but if your reachability rate is 20%, you’re not connecting with much of your workforce.
Reachability is especially important in an emergency, like the pandemic, where you need to get in touch with your entire workforce as quickly as possible.
2. Reachability vs. open rate
Those of you who’ve ever measured email metrics before will find this very familiar. Of all the people who could see your communication, this is how many people actually opened it.
Comparing your reachable rate against your open rate tells a few stories that can help measure communication effectiveness:
How enticing your introduction or subject line is. This depends a lot on the message format of your communications tool, since not all tools allow for subject lines or any kind of snippet. But when possible, this metric will tell you how effectively you’re enticing your workforce to actually open your communication.
What your user experience is like. Your open rate is going to be pretty low if your communications tool is hard to navigate, or people rarely get (or see) new message notifications. If you’re seeing a low open rate compared to your reachable rate, that might be a sign you need to make some usability changes. Consider running an internal survey or focus group to evaluate your tool’s user-friendliness.
How relevant your communications are. Employees will ignore messages that aren’t relevant to them. This is a problem, because if employees start ignoring irrelevant messages, they might start ignoring the relevant ones, too. A low open rate may be a sign that you should audit your communications strategy or consider segmenting messaging to different regions or groups.
3. Read rate
Next, a “read rate” will tell you how many employees actually read the content you shared. Again, the metrics that you’ll have access to will depend on your communication channels and tools. Sometimes, a tool can even tell you how much of the content they were able to finish.
This is a great metric for measuring communication effective. If you get a consistently high read rate, then you know that your communications are hitting it out of the park. But watch for any variations. If any of your messages receive a surprisingly low or high number, investigate why. Compare it to previous communications and scan for differences. You may learn something valuable.
Note that you won’t always be able to reliably track this metric, as it depends heavily on the comms tool in which you’ve invested. Nudge Analytics, tracks read rate through “response rate,” which would tell you if a user has read an in-app message and clicked the button at the end of it.
4. Knowledge rate
“Knowledge rate” is basically a fancy term for skill testing.
This is where your employees (whether all of them or a specific segment) are given quizzes or spot-tests to evaluate their knowledge on important work-related subjects. It tells you how well information has been consumed and retained. Depending on the nature of your communications, this might be one-off knowledge testing (like for a specific retail campaign) or ongoing (like for safety regulations).
Any survey or testing app can put together a quick learning test, of course. But not all platforms are created equal. Some might be intended for desktop workstations, which means that frontline employees would have a hard time completing the tests. Other platforms might not be able to aggregate the data across the entire company, or might not go deep enough when it comes to calculating scores.
Using a communication tool with robust knowledge analytics is a valuable asset for deskless and frontline organizations, because it allows you to zero in on red flags at scale. Even if your organization employs hundreds of thousands of workers, knowledge rates can tell you quickly if there is a region, location, or even individual workers that need extra training.
To get the most visibility – and the most useful insights – into your communication effectiveness, having access to all of the above metrics will give you a more complete picture and allow you to take appropriate action.
Remember; those are not arbitrary or abstract numbers you’re tracking. Every metric represents an employee who relies on internal communications to do their job. The longer you take to put those metrics together, or the fewer metrics you take advantage of, the more risk there is of the employee making a crucial error or becoming disengaged from the organization.
In contrast, if you’re tracking all those metrics and doing consistently well across the board, then you can rest assured you’re on your way to building an engaged, agile team ready for anything.