Monthly Archives: April 2015

Adopting New Technology: Get Your Employees On Board

Regardless of the industry or size, organizations today are experiencing a digital transformation. With the addition of new technology these organizations are able to better serve their customers and increase revenue. However, the digital transformation isn’t always as smooth as one would think. Often we hear of organizations who have spent a pretty penny on various tools only to find out that their employees aren’t using the tool. Although implementing new technologies is something many organizations say they are focusing on for future success, many employees are finding the process to be too complex and slow. How can this be fixed?

Employee Adoption of Technology Matters

When considering implementing a new technology, consider this: employees perform and deliver value, and the use of technology helps them do it better. It’s crucial to consider if the tool is going to make the end user’s job easier. If the tool is difficult or confusing to use, they are not going to use it. Keep your employees involved in tech initiatives and get their opinions on what will or will not work; keeping them involved in this process will save you time and money.

Often employees turn to non-approved apps and tools that they are more comfortable and familiar with, knowing it will be easier than the company provided tools. As a result they may be unintentionally putting your organization’s privacy and security at risk. Work with your IT team to create a brief explanation of how the tool works and explain how using other tools may present risks to the organization.

Choosing the Right Technology

No matter what technology you are looking to implement, keep in mind the interests of those who will use it daily. Consider functionality and ease of use from the end user’s perspective. Tools that take a great deal of time to learn are almost always rejected by employees. Have the users complete multiple trials, get their feedback, and then determine if the technology fits their needs. This will help users across all levels of your organization make the most out of your software.

Show Off the New Technology

What better way to get people excited about using a new tool than to show them what it is capable of! Prove that the technology works, and how simple it can be. Show it off to a small team who can work with others to show them how the tool works, and help promote the tool among co-workers. Engaging employee along the tech adoption process is one of the best ways to ensure that the tool will be used at all levels of the organization.

Read the full article from Pivot Point here.

How Modern Internal Communication Affects the Role of the Communicator

There has been a lot of talk lately about the shifting nature of and purpose of internal communications. the question is, how are these changes affecting the role of the communicator themselves. A recent Melcrum article discusses these changes, examining what skills and characteristics the modern communicator is going to need.

Internal communications practices today are a lot more complicated than they were in the early stages. As the article notes not only are business communications taking place on an increasingly global scale, but there are a number of other external factors such as change management, political concerns and even social psychological influences.

There are now more platforms on which to communicate than ever before; from email to social media and company intranets, communicators must find new ways to engage and inform employees and coworkers.

As well as knowing what to say- and how to say it, they must also know how to create engaging content with visuals, understand the latest technologies, and use data and research to reinforce their messages. Keeping this in mind the article offered an “ABC” guide on the roles that today’s internal communicators will need to embrace:

Achiever

It’s not just about knowing who has received your messages, but also how they’re acted upon and what changes they will lead to. As time goes on, and as business leaders from all types of organizations expect faster changes in staff behavior, campaigns will become less about boosting employee engagement and more concerned with change management.

Business Person

Communicators will need to become more involved with the business itself, rather than writing from a distance (mental, physical or both). Being able to consult and give advice are important skills, but so is having a detailed knowledge of the business and wider industry.

Connector

Often, communicators are the point of contact across all departments within a company. Communicators need to have the ability to integrate messages, align strategies and replicate their efforts. It is becoming more common that internal communications professionals are now having to work in accordance with external communications teams.

Read the full article from Melcrum here.

Measurement, Metrics or Analytics: Which is it?

At conferences and in conversations with internal communicators, the topic of measurement is coming up more and more often.

I have noticed people, myself included, using the terms measurement, metrics and analytics interchangeably.

These conversions are always about putting some numbers to your intranet and Outlook email communications efforts, but while these terms are related, they do not mean the same thing.

Measurement is simply the action of measuring something. Internal communicators are often near ground zero in this department.

Metrics are the result of measurement, the standard measures you use to monitor performance. Sometimes internal communicators have some basic metrics, say intranet page views or, when given marketing tools to work with, maybe email opens and click through.

Analytics has become more of a buzzword, if only because a number of business intelligence tools use the term in the product name (Google Analytics for example) . Analytics can be thought of as the systematic analysis of your metrics and measurement data.

You might think of the tool you use to do your measurement as an analytics tool, which it should be. At the same time, know that the objective of analytics is the analysis and insights to be found in the data.

Basic metrics allow you to report on your activity, but often won’t give you much in the way of insights.

Analytics tools (which includes your Excel spreadsheet) should provide for the discovery of meaningful patterns within the data, and ideally utilize data visualization (OK, big word meaning charts and graphs) to communicate those insights.

So let’s wrap it up in a sentence.

Your measurement provides metrics and your analytics yields the insights to improve your employee communications efforts.

Are email open rates misleading your internal communications team?

“Did they even open the email?”

This is an all too common communications management question.

Email can be a conundrum. It’s the most valuable internal communications tool, and usually a mysterious black hole.

So it’s not surprising that communicators resort to any number of methods to track if email gets opened or not.
But what, exactly, does an email open rate tell you?

Let’s consider one customer’s experience. They were using an online email marketing platform to measure internal email broadcasts, and over a period of six months the average open rate was just shy of 20%.

Because the vast majority of the company was never bothering to open any of these emails, they were obviously junk – extraneous communications contributing to employee email overload. Persuaded by IT’s analysis of the available email metrics, the Comms team made the decision to shut those email programs down, and diverted content to the intranet instead.

Within two months, traffic to their intranet fell by nearly half, and people were directly emailing their managers asking for news and information.

So what happened?

That 20% email open metric wasn’t accurate. When the IT team learned how email opens are actually tracked, light bulbs went on.

ClicktoDownPictures-focused

Measuring email opens is dependent upon that ‘click to download pictures’ bar you sometimes see at the top of your inbox – most often for incoming external communications – which would be the case when internal email is being sent via an online email marketing service.

Technically, it is the request to the tracking server for the tracking image contained in the email which gets counted as an open. In web analytics, this tiny transparent image is called a ‘beacon’.
Because people can read the text of an email without downloading the pictures, that 20% open rate only represented the people who actually clicked to download the pictures. It did not represent the people actually opening and reading the email.

For internal Outlook and Exchange communications, and assuming any measurement server is part of your company network, the pictures and content will automatically display – there is no click to download pictures – which means any preview will be measured as an open. Most internal communications will have open rates near 70%.

Despite the Outlook envelope icon, a preview is counted as an open in exactly the same way a double-click is counted as an open.

Likewise, someone who reads the entire email in their Outlook preview is counted exactly the same as someone who previews the message quickly and moves on down their inbox, completely ignoring it. Both count as opens, but are very different interactions.

All open rate tells you is the percentage of recipient who received it and looked at it for at least a second.

An email open does not tell you if your recipient actually read your message.

That’s why open rate, even an accurate open rate, is often a misleading metric.

If you are taking the time to write, edit and layout valuable or mission critical content, you need to know if people are reading it.

How many executive and HR emails are being ignored, and at what cost to operations? Should email design and layout decisions be made based on opinions, or on readability data?

The most valuable email metric is how long people have the message open, which is the best indicator of reading. Web analysts often refer to this as time-on-page or session duration, and for email we call it read-time – which is how long the recipient has the message open in Outlook.

Of course, a small percentage of people will leave the email open while grabbing a coffee or working on another project, but a good analytics tool will take that into account.

measure email read time

Knowing your read-rate gives you the ability to make better communications decisions.

Want to know if your email communications are improving or declining? A key performance metric is the ratio of your distribution list size to the number of people who didn’t open the email plus the number of people who ignored it. Simply track this metric over time, and if the graph is moving up, you’re doing better.

Wondering if you are sending too much content? Monitor the ratio of your average read-time to your total content length – the closer to 100% the better.

Want to know if a mobile responsive layout would improve readership? Simply compare the mobile read-time before and after the change.

Wondering if readers are engaging with your corporate newsletter? Email engagement is a combination of read-time and click-through, so monitoring a combined metric over time will tell you how well your communications program is performing, as well as highlight any out-of-norm issues.

The objective of measuring communications is to make better, more informed business decisions, which means knowing your numbers and avoiding inaccurate, misleading metrics.