Posted August 25, 2020
Do you know if your organization’s communication strategy is really working?
Your team might get indirect and anecdotal indicators of success or failure, if communications cause confusion, generate complaints, or result in people taking actions they shouldn’t. But this kind of haphazard evidence won’t help your organization genuinely understand the effectiveness of its communications or what needs to be done to get back on track.
A communication audit can, but such an audit can be challenging to undertake. The biggest difficulty: simply figuring out how to measure success in the first place.
Here are five ways to do just that.
1: Use quantifiable metrics of success
The easiest way to measure the success or failure of communications is to identify specific metrics of success, like:
- Response or read rate
- Time spent on page
- Click-through rates
Metrics like these measure reader engagement with the communication and the success of the material in driving desired actions. Just ensure you come as close to direct measures as possible. For example, time spent on page is a great indication of reader engagement with web content, but if the ultimate goal is clicking a “buy now” button, that’s what you should focus on.
2: Create a s scoring system
Another approach is to review written materials and ask questions about its success and quality. Design each question as a yes/no and score 1 point for each yes. For example:
- Does the material speak to the right audience?
- Is it understandable to that audience?
- Was it distributed via the right channel(s) to reach that audience?
- Does it make a clear call-to-action?
- Does it include all the information the reader needs to make a decision and take action?
3: Sort communications using the charting method
You might have heard of the Eisenhower Method for setting priorities. It divides tasks into one of four quadrants along two axes of importance and urgency.
We’re going to adapt this matrix for evaluating the quality of your company’s communication. Instead of importance and urgency, you might use “writing quality” and “writing effectiveness” (the content’s ability to successfully produce desired outcomes) as the two axes.
As your team reviews different communications, they’ll be sorted into the appropriate quadrant. Here, well-written should mean that the communications are clear and understandable, present your company with the right tone, and successfully capture the voice (and brand) of your organization. In other words, we’re talking about good writing.
But even the best writing is useless if it doesn’t bring about desired business results, so that’s the second continuum to evaluate: is the communication effective at achieving the organization’s goals for it?
Then, take a look at the final assortment. This should give you an idea of how your communications stack up overall and where you need work.
4: Compare to benchmarks & competitors
This method requires some research, but you can also compare and contrast your materials to those of companies you admire and competitors whose success you want to emulate or beat. You can use this as the basis of a SWOT analysis for identifying relative strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
5: Get a third-party perspective
Another great way: get an impartial, third-party, expert perspective. It’s often prohibitively difficult for an organization to evaluate its own communications objectively. The people inside may be protective of the material or may simply lack the requisite expertise to accurately evaluate it; the process may be vulnerable to intrusion by turf wars; sometimes people feel the need to comment or criticize just to add something, even if their contribution is unhelpful or counterproductive. Bringing in an outside party to conduct and assist with the communications audit can cut through all these problems immediately, helping to bring about the best results.
About Hurley Write, Inc.
Hurley Write, Inc., a certified women-owned small business (WBENC and WOSB), Historically Underutilized (HUB), and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), has been designing and teaching customized onsite and online technical, business, and scientific writing courses for over 30 years. We also develop and teach specialty courses, such as how to write proposals and standard operating procedures (SOPs) and deviation and investigation reports, and how to prepare and give great presentations. Links: Internal, Wikipedia