Why Superficial Statistics Are Important But Not Enough
A word on volumetrics
Volumetrics relates to measurement by volume, where volume is an amount or the quantity of your output.
Volumetrics are superficial measurements of some of your team’s success and output. They help you understand what’s working and what’s not and should be reviewed regularly; if not daily then at least weekly.
What am I talking about exactly? Volumetrics for internal comms include:
- Email / newsletter open rates
- Email / newsletter click-throughs
- Average video watch times
- Intranet stories published
- Podcasts recorded
- Video views
- Sign-ups as a result of XYZ communication
- Employee generated submissions
- Content published to digital signage
- Different readers (employees) that engage with a piece of content
- Likes and ratings
- Shares and reposts
Contrast volumetrics to business outcome-focused metrics — like behavior and mindset changes — which are another form of data you should collect as part of your internal comms regimen. (Related article)
It’s easy to collect and count volumetrics, which is why communications professionals (internal and external) rely too much on them to show what a great job they’re doing.
The downside is that you cannot directly tie volumetrics to improving the business’s bottom line. Savvy IC managers are aware of this because CEOs know that volumetrics (like open rates) do not equal sales.
- To make the business case for internal comms, you must include both volumetrics and behavior metrics. (Related article)
Two Simple Examples
You’ll get to a point where stats level out. For example, your email newsletter will settle on an average 65% open rate with a 12% click-through.
But one day you may notice that the open rate plummets to 30%. Why is that?
- It may very well be human error (you forgot to add an audience to the distribution list) or a technical error (the third-party software went down overnight).
- If you weren’t paying attention to the volumetrics, you wouldn’t have been able to jump in and fix the problem.
Or another day you notice open rates spiked to 80%. Why is that?
- Could it be that you had a catchy subject line? Or that you sent it at noon on Wednesday instead of Friday at 4 p.m.?
- If you weren’t paying attention to the volumetrics, you wouldn’t spot an opportunity to repeat success.
The point is, these simple volumetrics need to be regularly monitored to make sure things are working the way they should.
- But again, an 80% open rate on your email does not equal improved retention rates, or any other business outcome metric.
Once you have the knack for tracking the bread and butter stuff, take it up a notch and start collecting more sophisticated volumetrics, which can help tell a deeper story about how Internal Comms is contributing to the company’s success.
Some advanced volumetrics include:
- The number of people contributing to the platform
- The number of channels each piece is published to
- Routine activity handed off to people outside your team
- Which specific audiences you are reaching
- The ratio of men to women featured in your content
- The number of times different departments are covered/mentioned
- The number of times different offices/locations are featured
Accounting for Your Work
A quick note here on how you can use volumetrics to understand your team’s efficiency and productivity.
Volumetrics also indicate activity levels for your team. The number of clicks to a story may be important to a certain stakeholder, but the number of articles your team publishes is a reflection of the amount of work your team is doing. The same goes for the numbers of videos produced, exec memos written, podcasts recorded, and material handed over to other teams for their use (e.g., Recruiting, PR).
With an accounting of your work, ask how you could improve the metric.
- Automation could be one way to boost your output (Related article)
- Templates for content contributors could decrease the time to publication
You will hit a ceiling. If your team is working hard to produce four news items per week you will struggle to get to six per week. But if you get to six, could you get to 10 per week with the same resources? Unlikely. All of your volumetrics will settle on an average that is very difficult to boost without doing something drastic.
- At this point your team needs to have a reckoning to determine which other areas your team could be working to help improve employee engagement.
- Or you need to consider whether new tools and resources need to be incorporated to boost output.
But this is a different topic, to be tackled separately…