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Digital Signposts: Measuring Communications Effectiveness

Now more than ever, the business sector is looking for hard evidence that communications programs are meeting objectives.

Now more than ever, the business sector is looking for hard evidence that communications programs are meeting objectives. The economic downturn has forced corporate communicators everywhere to apply a laser-like focus on costs and show the ROI for communications campaigns. This is a very difficult task. For example, how does one show hard numbers that a target audience has been sufficiently influenced by a communication or that a new technology installation has “engaged” more employees?

Communication metrics tend to be a combination of hard data (actual numbers of users interacting with the content) and soft data (how effective the content experience is). To complicate matters, some methods of measurement, such as time spent on an intranet site, may lead to ambiguous results. The employee could have spent time on the site because they were genuinely engaged, or because they couldn’t find what they were looking for.

The channel concept helps provide a more complete measurement picture. Corporate communications channels that appear on multiple devices dramatically increase the likelihood of content reaching its intended audience. By its nature the interactive communications channel provides a variety of functions that demand the user click through. Clicks can be measured, as can time spent watching a video or using a particular channel application. Interactive features can also report back important usage data such as content downloads, participation in a game, social media messages distributed, and much more.

Clicks, however, are only a part of the measurement picture. Qualitative data must be captured to determine if audiences are actually being impacted and to what degree. Surveys, focus groups, and other feedback methods can be driven directly from the channel, giving corporate communicators important feedback that relates directly to the impact of a specific message or campaign. Together, clicks and qualitative data provide a thorough and insightful view of communications effectiveness.

One of the first questions an integrator will face when pitching an enterprise installation is, “What is the ROI?” Beyond a vague response about communicating more effectively and increasing employee engagement, integrators can also discuss measureable and tangible data that can be captured and relates directly to ROI.

Vern Freedlander is vice president of production services for Montréal-based X2O Media, a full-service provider of technology, network management and content services for professional digital signage applications. With more than 20 years of broadcast television experience as a producer, director and executive, Freedlander oversees all of X2O Media’s content initiatives. He can be reached at [email protected].

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