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I’d Do Anything for IC Measurement But I Won’t Do That

Robin O'SullivanRobin O'Sullivan·

No IC Measurer left behind

When responding to a survey most IC professionals say that measurement is a priority for the coming year, but the reality is that too few communicators give it the attention and time required to ingrain measurement into IC’s everyday business processes.

For example, in the 2016 Gatehouse State of the Sector survey, 12% of communicators confessed to not measuring at all, while only 38% of respondents provide regular IC reports to stakeholders.

Why is this? I’ve previously mentioned some of the issues that communicators encounter around IC measurement, such as tools not being fit for purposes, having to pull measurement data from multiple disparate channel data sources and manually patch a report together etc. While those factors certainly play a part, I think there is another piece of the puzzle that maybe is underestimated or overlooked.

The majority of internal communicators report very basic IC metrics (unique visitors, pageviews and average time on page being the big three). This measurement approach is rudimentary, often feeling more like a box ticking exercise rather than something that adds value to IC and the organization. It is this group of communicators that answer in the surveys that measurement is a priority for the coming year. These aspirational IC measurers are frustrated by their inability to measure and are stuck on a hamster wheel with basic metrics that don’t give much insight into how IC is performing or how engaged employees are.

And finally there are the small cohort of communicators that when you mention Internal Communications measurement, exit the conversation like a bat out of hell. The measurement ostriches just don’t want to know, thank you very much.

That missing factor is education. Education about how to measure, what to measure, when to measure, what insights can be gleaned from measurement and how powerful measurement can elevate the IC function and its profile within an organization. When I speak to communicators about measurement, some just get it. These people have invested time in it and measurement is a well defined process as part of how they work. These IC measurement gurus are in the minority but are thriving as organizations become more and more data driven.

For this  aspirational measurement group the keys to getting better at measurement is education and training.

Let’s go back to the basic measurement and the three main metrics IC reports on (unique visitors, pageviews, average time on page) these can be useful metrics. However, unless communicators are educated on how to elicit and present to senior stakeholders actionable insights from these metrics, these metrics are sitting there all revved up with no place to go.  

Communicators need help in understanding what the metrics they capture are telling them about their employees and about how IC is driving employee engagement. As an example we recently ran a pilot of our new IC Cross-Channel Analytics product during which I was surprised by some of the basic measurement questions that we received. We had overestimated the level of measurement sophistication among our audience. Some communicators are happy to go with the flow and are comfortable with reporting just on those three metrics. Indeed some communicators only report on two of these metrics, claiming two outta three ain’t bad. But the bulk of this group want to get better and see the potential in powerful measurement.

In answering the measurement questions we received from our pilot customers I began to notice something really interesting. Many communicators actually knew the answers to the questions being asked, but lacked confidence in their own understanding of IC measurement, which saw them come to us with the questions. But in reality, when reviewing the questions and what they thought might be the answer, their answers took the words right out of my mouth.  

A brave new world

As a senior communicator in a large organization put it to me, “It is clear that IC is having a moment in the sun as an organizational discipline”. My belief is that improving measurement for IC can play a big part in capitalizing on the opportunity that presents itself to make and maintain IC as a vital strategic function within the organization. The time is now. IC does not want to sit around a table in a bar in a couple of years and telling anyone who’ll listen that ‘For crying out loud’, we had a chance and we blew it’!!!

Imagine a dashboard that shows all your main metrics across all your main digital channels, where you can manage and report on your cross channel campaigns, where you can define your campaign audience to give you the ability to have focused smaller campaigns in areas of the business that require specific attention, where your data is segmented automatically into organizational units like department, business unit or country. Imagine the insights IC could mine from that information to really take ownership of its current moment in the sun and its future direction.

If that sounds like IC measurement heaven, at the moment heaven can wait. The next step on the road to better IC measurement is still education. Once communicators are educated on measurement and how it can help elevate the IC function, the sky’s the limit. And as IC professionals become more knowledgeable in terms of IC measurement, vendors in the space will offer more sophisticated solutions to support IC and over time IC measurement can reach the level where marketing measurement currently resides.

The good news is that this is starting to happen. The Gatehouse report for 2016 encouragingly reports that IC is slowly moving away from measurement techniques like the annual employee engagement survey (that IC doesn’t own), and are taking more and more ownership of IC measurement. Vendors, like Newsweaver and others, are innovating on IC working in partnership with communicators.  From talking to customers of Newsweaver, the training budget for IC is no longer only focused on content generation and management. Measurement courses are making more regular appearances in the training schedule.

I firmly believe that, along with other factors, if the shortfall in IC measurement knowledge and ability is addressed, IC will take a huge step forward toward finding IC measurement paradise by the dashboard light.

Want to learn more about how to measure? Download this free whitepaper on Internal Communication: Developing Metrics That Matter


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