Are you measuring the wrong things?
Why do we measure click-thru rates? Web analytics? Follows, comments, likes and shares?
Because they’re there. We measure them because they’re easy to measure.
Some of these measurements can be helpful. Click-thru rates, for instance, might help us make the link between, say, an e-zine article and increased sales.
Other measurements can actually lead us astray: Do we really want, for instance, employees to spend more time on an intranet page? Does that mean the page is more useful? Or does it suggest that it’s so poorly written that the reader must burn extra seconds finding and figuring out key messages?
More employee time, after all, costs more money.
Measure the cost of communicating.
The goal of corporate communications is to help the organization achieve its business goals — make money, save money or save time, for instance.
So most of our measurements should evaluate outcomes (Did we sell more Greek yogurt sundaes after the e-zine came out?) instead of inputs (Was that not a totally awesome Greek yogurt sundae e-zine I put out last week?)
But in your zeal for evaluating outcomes, don’t neglect measuring communication efficiency. If you reduce the cost of communicating, after all, you’re directly contributing to the bottom line.
Case in point: If it took 7 minutes of your employees’ time to read the United Way campaign message last year, and you can get the same results in only 5 minutes this year, how much does that save the organization?
That’s a question all employee communicators should be asking — and answering — as part of their annual reviews.
Quantify communication efficiency.
Here are the numbers you’ll need to answer that question:
- Average hourly salary. To figure this out, get your organization’s average hourly compensation. Let’s call it $60 an hour.
- Average hourly cost of staff time. Then add the cost of benefits and overhead. (Just have the salary? Multiply salary by three to cover benefits and overhead.) Let’s call it $180 an hour.
- Average per-minute cost of staff time. Divide by 60 to get the per-minute cost: $180 divided by 60 equals $3 a minute.
- Word count. Divide the word count of your piece by 200 to get average reading time, or ART. If your intranet article is 400 words long, for instance, ART would be 2 minutes.
- Number of audience members. Let’s say 2,000 employees have a chance to read your intranet article.
Now do the math:
$3 a minute x 2 minutes = $6
x 2,000 employees
= $12,000 cost of communicating
Does that seem like a reasonable tab for getting the word out? If not, adjust the word count or drop the piece entirely.
Side benefit to writing tight
Shorter articles are more effective, as well as more efficient. So weirdly, you may well achieve more bottom-line business goals while reducing communication costs.
And that’s worth measuring.