The Insiders’ Guide to Employee Communications

By Poppulo

Table of Contents

Chapter 4 – Add value: measuring the right things

Essential steps to nail employee communications measurement

Poppulo has created the world’s most powerful measurement software specifically for employee communications and we know the enormous value it brings organizations. Still, we also know measurement can appear daunting so we’ve put together this advice to make it painless.

1. Start at the end

Great plans always define what their purpose is, what they want to achieve and then list the supportive tactics to reach that goal. It’s the same with measuring the effectiveness of internal communication. Start all measuring planning with the end in mind. What is the outcome you want? It can be as simple as what do you want your audience to know, feel or do as a consequence of your communication efforts. Focusing on outcomes will keep you on track when you are caught up in a mountain of tactics and data as your campaign progresses – they are the wood in the forest of trees.

Sources to help you define your desired outcomes and business impact:

  • Organizational strategy and goals
  • Leadership vision and expectations – what outcomes do they expect?
  • Communication strategy
  • Team thinking – engage with colleagues to define desired outcomes

2. Define the right measures

Once you have your outcomes and desired business impact clearly defined this gives you the guiding compass to define the right measures. Having your outcomes outlined makes defining your communication tactics easier and more focused. And when you’re clearer about the comms tactics you need to deploy, the measurement and metrics should almost fall into your lap.

Define the right measures

With continual monitoring of key data measurement points, if any of your indicators don’t show a positive trend you can then deploy additional or alternative communication tactics in good time to influence the outcome of the campaign.

Poppulo Insights gives real-time data measurement of communication performance across multiple digital channels during a campaign.

This means underperformance of engagement in specific geographies or departments can be addressed during the campaign, enabling early intervention for a more positive outcome.

Cross Channel Report

3. Make sure you map your audience

Audience segmentation is a really important element of any communication measurement. The way to keep your communication efforts focused, effective and simple is to map out your audiences.

All impactful communications are targeted and consider the audiences for which they are intended, and effective measurement is exactly the same.

Here’s a simple, basic example of audience mapping:


The benefits of visual mapping is you can easily see where you might face challenges and resistance (in this case office staff), and where you might get some quick wins (new starters).

Audience mapping can be subjective and open to interpretation, but is useful as a (not for public-sharing!) tool for your communication team to enable you to get a clear view of your collective audiences and where you want or need them to be in the future.

Using audience mapping and visualization generates useful team discussions regarding the critical areas where our communication efforts and, importantly, monitoring of metrics, should be focused for maximum impact.

4. Adopt a ONE STEP approach

We all know that measurement can be overwhelming so remember: don’t try to swallow the ocean. You can’t go from zero to measurement hero overnight, so take one step at a time. For example, here are three small and easy ways to begin measuring the effectiveness of your communications.

Adopt a ONE STEP approach

You could start by simply measuring one event, a town hall, for example. Monitor the email open rate and the time spent engaged with the content advertising the town hall, as an indicator of awareness and interest in the event. And then follow up afterwards with a short online survey to measure against your desired outcomes.

This simple approach gives you a manageable opportunity. It’s also not that high profile and gives you a chance to easily debrief as a team and reflect how you can improve your measurement approach quickly next time.

Alternatively, you could start your measurement on just one channel; for example, leadership emails, where Joanna Hall of Afire Consulting first started using Poppulo.

With the Insights that Poppulo gives you I could see the levels of interest in the leaders emails or the type of content by department and location, and in that process our team’s curiosity spiked

– Joanna

We began to get our heads around the data and asked ‘what does this actually mean, or what does this tell me’? Nobody else had access to the analytics so we had a really safe place to question and learn and challenge ourselves, before we reported on the data to our leadership.

Another way to make measurement simpler when you’re starting out is to focus your measurement on just one audience group in a large communication campaign.

This helps take a manageable, less-overwhelming step towards measuring something. Identify an appropriate population and tell them what you are doing, tell them what you’re piloting and involve them.

Ask for their help to critique your survey questions or to analyze your data – anything that leads to more robust measurement in the future. Don’t think that comms has to do everything alone!

5. Become a data Ninja

It can be a confusing place for communicators when the data comes flowing in: the email and video open rates, the engagement data and numbers of roadshow attendees, the employee survey data and website analytics. So, at this point it’s important to remind yourself of the outcomes you set out to achieve at the start.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • So what? What does the data mean in relation to the outcomes?
  • What’s the context behind the data gathered?
  • What alternative perspective might the data be showing? How might others interpret the data?
  • What are my biases? (We all have biases and it’s extremely important to acknowledge this)
  • What other data might validate my thinking? (For example, from HR or IT)
  • What does the data ‘big picture’ tell me? Don’t look at data sets in isolation – look at the holistic view.

6. Learn the skill of data reporting

But before you even begin to start pulling your reporting together, go back again and look at your desired outcomes: What did you want your employees to know, feel and do as a consequence of your communications?

And having gained insights from the wider business, what were the business impacts your campaign was going to achieve or support? With this framework, that’s the content of your reporting scoped out.

You’re aiming now to show that what you set out to achieve has either been done, is progressing well or, equally important, hasn’t made a difference – yet! (Knowing that no progress has been made is sometimes more important than celebrating complete success).

Three top tips are:

  • Report outcomes
  • Tailor the content for the audience you’re reporting to
  • Keep it simple

7. Take a confident step forward

  1. Commit to an action plan. Now that you have your measurement insights and made your reports, commit to your own initial step, no matter how small
  2. Learn. Remember that you’ll most likely make mistakes along your measurement journey. But that’s OK because from every learning comes a more knowledgeable, capable and confident person
  3. Remain curious. And remain open-minded to the data that you’re getting, open to the feedback you receive, be open-minded to making changes on your approach to measurement
  4. Be strategic. The importance of developing a strategic measurement plan that aligns with and supports your communication strategy is crucial

The best internal communication practitioners and trusted advisors will be strategic in their thinking and their planning. But build your measurement confidence first, because that way your whole approach to communication will have the greatest impact and greatest credibility possible.

For more on measurement, download Poppulo’s Ultimate Guide to Measuring Internal Communications.

This section is based on a Poppulo webinar with Joanna Hall, Founder & CEO, Afire Consulting: 7 practical steps for IC measurement and the Poppulo guide – The Essential IC Measurement Workbook.

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