Once upon a time it was said that the success of efforts in Internal Communications could not be measured. This was one of the many accusations leveled at what was seen as a “fluffy” department that had no real impact on the business apart from organizing the Christmas party and posting articles on the intranet about the latest money grab for Doris’s charity walking challenge.
The thing is, that’s total bulldust. It has been for years. And now, with Internal Communications specialists being pushed to take a more strategic position and a seat at the top table, to get the ear of business leaders and the C-Suite and to align their work with overall business goals, it’s more important than ever to shout this from the rooftops: your Internal Communications strategy CAN be measured. It should be measured. It needs to be measured, if you’re going to prove ROI - numerical or sentimental - on your efforts and get more budget and resource to improve year upon year upon year.
Why it’s important to measure your Internal Communications successes
Armed with robust data gathered from your Internal Communications platforms, your Internal Communications strategy is emboldened. It’s built on a solid foundation of actual activity, a benchmark taken from within your own business rather than a list of nebulous Internal Communications best practices you pulled from the intranet.
Importantly, though, this lets you communicate with the C-suite and senior leaders in language they understand. Those leading businesses are very numbers-driven, and they want to know about ROI and how your activity has delivered tangible outcomes for the business. Happy and engaged workers are of no interest unless those workers are increasing productivity, selling more because they understand the purpose of a service, or staying in their jobs longer (saving recruitment costs) because they feel valued by their bosses.
While there is a raft of Internal Communications measurement techniques that can prove useful to your strategy, and a load of Internal Communications best practices that show the importance of measuring outcomes, one of the best and most readily available techniques is engagement with the intranet — and this becomes a lot easier if you have a G Suite intranet using Google Analytics. That’s why it’s so important to get management on board with intranet adoption.
What Google Analytics can tell you about your intranet
As a central portal for all things about your company, your G Suite intranet can be a good indicator of employee engagement and how your Internal Communications strategy is faring. And as it’s based in the Google ecosystem, a Google intranet can have Google Analytics plugged in, which in turn puts a world of measurement and statistics to your fingertips. Like these.
Track logins and usage
It goes without saying that the number of times someone logs into a system, and the length of time they spend within that system, gauges how useful that system is to them. Tracking how many users are getting onto the intranet, how often, and for how long they stay connected, can give an indication of how engaged your employees are with your intranet. Consider measuring the percentage of employees logging in daily, the increase in employee logins since implementation, the percentage of employees who stay logged in for X hours, or even the amount of times your intranet mobile app is used.
Track the location of logins
If your business stretches over multiple locations - or if you have a large remote workforce - Google Analytics can show you the location of logins, which in turn can help you identify if a particular part of your employee base is lagging behind in engagement. Likewise, if there are a lot of logins after hours, it can be an indication of an epidemic of overworking.
Track when users visit
Using Google Analytics to dig deeper into those logins and usage stats can show you any hot spots during the day when the intranet is crawling with users. This can in turn help you to plan times, for example, to get senior leaders to run a Q&A, or get into a Slack group to take direct questions from staff.
Track user journeys
It’s not just about the login page, right? You want to know which sections of the intranet are proving popular to help move your Internal Communications strategy along. Google Analytics can let you see which pages users are visiting, and where they go to from there. This can help you to bolster engagement with, say, the expenses system — you might discover it’s hidden behind too many layers of navigation, or linked from a page that no one ever visits.
The other metrics for judging Internal Communications strategy
Don’t forget it’s not all about the intranet — there are other ways to measure your Internal Communications strategy that don’t involve poring over website analytics or spreadsheets full of numbers. Internal Communications best practices suggest the following as good starting points:
Open rates for emails sent can tell you simply and easily if anyone is paying attention to your communications. Low open rates also indicate bad subject titles.
Click-through rates from those emails highlight the content seen as the most interesting or important by employees — and it might not match what you or the boss thinks is most important.
Responses and feedback show employees are listening and engaging with what you’re saying — which makes it super important to make sure you respond so they feel they’ve been heard.
An eNPS, or an employee net promoter score, works in the same way as a customer NPS does — this time measuring how likely an employee is to stay in their job, or recommend talented staff to join the company. It’s a tangible way to track the effectiveness of your Internal Communications strategy.
Likewise, the staff turnover rate — while a bit grim to think about — is a good measure of Internal Communications success. It’s said people leave managers not companies, and it’s the job of Internal Communications to facilitate communications from the top down and bottom up. If there is an increase in turnover, you might want to revisit your Internal Communications strategy.
Event attendance rates can be another indicator of success. If you organize a town hall meeting, an all-hands call, or a special lunch and learn session, your RSVPs will be a good metric of success.
And, of course, the good ol’ staff survey is a chance to ask employees directly what they think of the work you’re doing.
Just remember that the senior leadership don’t care about fluffy data — they won’t want to know that you’ve had an increase in traffic to a micro site unless that micro site is dedicated to a new process and demonstrating employees have conducted eLearning on the new process is essential for compliance.
As Ethan McCarty, Global Head of Employee and Innovations Communications for Bloomberg LP, writes for the Institute for PR, business leaders won’t accept measurements of activity as proxies for value. Volume does not equal change, and Internal Communications specialists must be able to define reasonable action to take to contribute to observable behavioral change. After all, Internal Communications best practices are geared towards influencing employee behavior for the good of the company.