Often articles and how-to guides about internal communications will offer a piece of advice like “identify the KPIs that work best for your organization,” but don’t specify exactly what those KPIs or metrics should be.
There’s a good reason for that: Different types of organizations have different goals, and thus most likely have different needs when it comes to measurement. Measuring intranet use isn’t particularly useful for companies that don’t have one or don’t have a goal of increasing participation, for example. Some organizations may prefer other channels.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled this list of six metrics that may not be completely universal, but should certainly be on every communicator’s radar.
- Email open rate.
Open rate is often dismissed as a simplistic or elementary KPI, but it has very clear value. According to Politemail research, email is the most-used communications channel in all kinds of industries. Open rate answers two key questions, according to consultant Michele Richardson: “Did the message reach everyone?” and “How many messages were opened and/or forwarded?” Before you can expand into more robust measurement, you need a baseline of knowledge about how interested your employees are.
- Time spent on page.
Open rate can let you know if your employees are interested in your content; time spent on page (or “dwell time”), which can apply to internal blog posts, wiki pages, web content or email messages, can clue you into how interested they are. As Wordstream puts it, “the longer the dwell time the better, as this indicates that the visitor has consumed most (if not all) of the content on a page.” It can be a sign of whether your messages are getting through to employees.
- Click Throughs.
The ultimate goal of internal communications is to create not just outputs, but outcomes: Changes in employee behavior. The first step in creating those outcomes is persuading employees to click on what Denise Cox calls “destination traffic links” on the International Association of Business Communicators website.
- Actions after clicks/adoption rates.
After the click, there must come the follow-through. Simply Communicate’s Alison Boothby explains: “If your HR team are looking to switch to a new benefits system, their likely success measure will be how many sign ups on the new system they get. That’s your success measure too.” It’s not enough to just get employees to follow links; you must also measure whether they’re taking the actions you intended for them to take.
- Engagement rate.
Engagement rate is a highly useful metric that combines lots of other metrics—time on page, clicks, social shares, comments, likes, and so on—into one measurement of overall interaction with your content. Neil Patel explains quite a few of the elements that go into it here. Engagement rate won’t provide very specific details of how employees are interacting with messages, but for a high-level view of how engaged they are, it’s very handy.
- Turnover rate.
You may be wondering how turnover rate is a communications measurement, and true, it is not necessarily a direct, granular measurement of communications efforts themselves. But it is a measure of communications outcomes. Employee retention is a huge goal many organizations have, and effective communications play a key role in making sure employees stick around.
With any metric you use, it’s important to make sure you’re not accidentally taking the wrong insights away from what you’re measuring. “Through our IC lens, we may be guilty of too much positive interpretation of measures simply because the things we are measuring are open to misinterpretation,” Boothby says. Any metric warrants interrogation and analysis so you know the numbers you’re presenting give an accurate snapshot of what’s really going on.