3 ways to measure how your message changed behavior
By Angela Sinickas, ABC, Diva of Diagnostics
You send out a brochure, and widgets start flying off the shelves. But who owns that success? You and your brochure? The sales team and its efforts? The in-store marketing folks and their signage?
Answer that question — and make sure communicators get credit for their share of sales — with these three measurement models:
1. Before and after
First conduct some baseline measurements to identify the current levels before you begin communicating. Next, establish your target levels and track objective reality over time.
Example: A privately held client wanted to increase its profitability. They established a profit-sharing plan that would reward employees as profits rose. We conducted a random telephone survey of 100 employees asking two questions:
- What percentage of profit do you believe the company is making (knowledge)?
- What percentage should it make (attitude)?
While the company wanted to improve profitability from 6% to 12% over two years, most employees thought it was currently at about 15% and thought it should be 15% for a comforting sense of company stability and job security.
These questions were inserted into a regular employee survey to track knowledge and attitude levels over time. In addition, at the quarterly employee meetings to review financial progress, the two questions were asked before the meeting started and as it ended.
The “before” measurement helped quantify one of our objectives: the percentage of employees who should know the current levels of profit. The upfront research also changed the communication plan significantly, ultimately making it more effective with our target audiences.
2. Here and there
Establish baselines by geographic location or business unit. Identify pairs that are substantially similar to each other. Conduct a pilot test of your communication campaign in half the pairs and not in the others. Track outcomes to identify any differences among the groups with different communication approaches.
Example: We developed a multimedia communication campaign for a client who wanted to establish a tax-sheltered employee savings plan. While all of the production plants distributed the brochures, only about half allowed employees to come to a meeting in which a benefits representative made a presentation and answered questions.
When we looked at enrollment figures after the campaign, employees at sites that allowed meetings had about 20% more employees enrolled in the plan, and the average contribution made to the plan was 6% of pay instead of 4%.
This demonstrated the impact of face-to-face communication in affecting behaviors.
3. Ideal versus actual
Ask employees ideally what they would like to know about a subject and how they would like to receive that information. Ask executives what they believe employees ideally should know. Track what is actually communicated and how.
Examples: From executive interviews and employee focus groups, we identified for one client a list of ideal communication content. Then we conducted a content analysis of the main employee publications to determine how much space was actually devoted to each topic.
We found that many of the topics were hardly covered. This analysis led to a more proactive way of setting measurable content goals for the publication.
For other clients, we used the ideal content list as the starting point for a communication questionnaire. For each topic, we identified:
- Level of interest in the topic (ideal)
- Level of understanding (actual)
- Current main sources of information (actual)
- Preferred sources (ideal)
Over time, the communicators are working to close the information gaps between level of interest and understanding, as well as to use employees’ preferred media so that they become the “current” media by the time of the next communication survey.
Angela Sinickas, ABC, is president of Sinickas Communications Inc., an international communication consultancy specializing in helping corporations achieve business results through targeted diagnostics and practical solutions.