Inputs, outputs & outcomes: unlocking value through internal communications metrics
Best practices

Inputs, outputs & outcomes: unlocking value through internal communications metrics

“Spray and pray.

These were the words shared by a senior communicator at a recent Reach demo when describing their current approach to measuring their internal communications efforts. It wasn’t that they didn’t know better—they simply lacked the right internal communications tools to be able to gather the metrics. Sound familiar?  

If you’re struggling to bridge the gap between internal comms successes and being able to actually track and present those successes in a tangible way, you’re not alone. Let’s walk you through why data collection is important, what you should be looking for, and how to bolster it. 

External marketing vs internal communications tools 

While most marketing departments are provided with relevant, job-specific tools like HubSpot to be able to create, execute and measure their external communications efforts, internal communicators aren’t often equipped in the same way. Why might this be?  

Marketing budgets are a norm within most annual business plans, and senior executives understand that it takes money to make money because over time, they’ve taken the time to measure the ROI of these expenditures. Marketing is counted on as a catalyst for generating revenue, forming part of the dynamic duo with Sales, to be an engine of the business.  

But when it comes to the role that internal communicators play in their organization, a clear connection to departmental results and the overall business has historically been lacking, so budget and mandate may be lacking, too. Like Human Resources before them, internal communicators have traditionally been positioned in more transactional, order-taker type roles, not as strategic partners counted on to inform and power the strategic direction of the business with insights and data.  

But that situation can be changed. 

Providing strategic value as an internal communicator 

So how does an internal communicator deliver strategic value? First you’ll need a grasp of which internal comms metrics to measure and how to utilize job-specific tools. 

As IC Thrive Communications Specialist, Alfie Penfold, shares, “…[using] metrics to measure the activity you’ve established will help other areas of the business deliver against corporate objectives, and is a sure-fire way to demonstrate your value to the leadership team. By clearly demonstrating how you have helped them, you can prove your worth. Once word gets out that you’ve helped one area of the business, other areas will pay attention and should be keen to get your help as well.”  

For those internal communicators newer to metrics, our IC Thrive Communications Team suggests checking out our internal communications metrics template for a greater understanding of what to measure. 

So now what? 

Now that we understand what needs to change and why, how do we do it? 

Alfie suggests that “it’s difficult to gather any kind of meaningful metrics without a digital tool to help you.” That’s where Reach comes in. It’s IC Thrive’s own methodology-based technology, built for internal communicators with input from internal communicators. 

Reach provides a tool to create and deliver messages across multiple channels, while capturing a variety of metrics from your audiences on each message. You’ll get a clearer understanding about how your content is resonating and how you could improve. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results—so let’s stop doing that by leveraging metrics. 

Reach enables the internal communicator to demonstrate value to peers and the organization, through capture of metrics across three categories: 

1) Inputs (tracking)  

2) Outputs (effectiveness)  

3) Outcomes (impact) 

Here are the metrics currently captured with Reach (and growing):

Which metrics should I use? 

IC Thrive’s team of Communications Specialists suggests that to provide a full account of your communication activity, a blend of input, output and outcome metrics are required. To achieve this, combining metrics from tools like Reach with external resources is likely to provide the best results. Ideally, the metrics information will help to tell the story of what worked well, what did not and recommendations moving forward.  

OUTPUT insights: 

  • Who is seeing the message? (The same person or variety of employees?)  
  • Did they open the message? 
  • Did they complete the action on the message? 
  • At what time of day did the message get engaged with most? 
  • Which audience was most/least engaged with? 
  • What was the total attendance at a company event? 

When it comes to the long-term of your internal comms efforts—perhaps less tangible metrics like employee engagement or reduced turnover—you’ll need to get a bit more creative. While Reach cannot measure those outcomes in a cut-and-dry sense, you can use “proxy metrics,” such as how many employees participated in the newsletter re-naming poll. Reach outcomes paired with external outcome indicators are your best bet for tracking overall growth, activity, and results . 

And remember—simply asking employees how your messaging is resonating is a surefire way to keep your finger on the pulse! Don’t be afraid to pair the quantitative data of your internal comms platform, such as Reach, with qualitative data, too. 

External OUTCOME indicators include: 

  • Number of policy sign offs completed using the online form on the intranet 
  • Number of employees who successfully re-set their log-in passwords 
  • Number of employee referral candidates 
  • Satisfaction rate on the employee survey 
  • Product add-ons sold vs the previous time period 
  • Number of employees who completed the certification training 

As for the INPUT metrics, these should be something that the communicator is aware of to inform their approach, or share with their boss when reporting on activities, however, not necessarily shared out across the organization. Think internal diagnostic instrument. 

Measure and treasure your internal comms data 

For those responsible for internal communications, sourcing the right technology solution and knowing what to measure are essential to help provide strategic value to the organization. While getting started with metrics may feel daunting, especially if it is a new frontier within an organization, following the recommendations that we’ve shared is a solid start. We hope that you’ll feel outfitted and ready for internal conversation and action towards a “measure and treasure” approach, while doing away with the “spray and pray.” 

If you are interested in learning more about internal communications metrics, we invite you to register for our free IC Thrive Academy.  

And if you’re ready to explore how to capture metrics with Reach, book a call with a member of our team to chat further.