By Adam Zouak on October 05, 2020
3 minute read

We know not all corporate communications channels are created equal, but do they all reach their respective audiences equally? No, but how can we make that less of a gut statement and more based on fact. Which channels have the highest potential reach and highest likelihood to be engaged with, versus the ones that are doomed out of the gate. Measurement is great, and while we have the tools for that, the first step is to always step back and do a simple review of your channels and their potential reach.

There are many articles out there that talk about which channels you should have based on strategy, or intent, or what’s best for multi-generational workforces, but how do you know how many people each one is likely to reach? Are you covering everyone? Sometimes the best way to answer something like this is with a simple mathematical model that gives you concrete numbers to consider. Here we go.

Let us say you are the Director of Employee Communications at Flightward, our beloved functional organization. Flightward has a workforce of 3,000 strong which includes 2,300 front-line workers who do not have regular access to a computer. Half of those front-line workers are on shifts that have them out of synch with the 700 ‘standard business hours’ folks, and all too often have been out-of-sight and out-of-mind.

You have several channels of communication in your portfolio: Intranet, email, mobile app, printed newsletter, Slack or MS Teams. Here is a formula based on a simple idea.

Potential Channel Reach = (Employees with access to the channel) * (Typical engagement on the channel) * (Adoption Factor)

What this is saying is that the potential reach of any channel is equal to the number of people who have access to that channel times the typical engagement on that channel times a percentage likelihood for the channels’ adoption at your organization. Let us look at each of these in a bit more depth.

(Employees with access to the platform) = This is the number of employees that can access the platform, for example: front-line workers do not have access to the Intranet so they need to be excluded from this calculation. Another example, if you are using an email newsletter, how many employees have email addresses?

(Typical engagement on the platform) = The web is full of studies that give you a sense of the typical reach of a channel. Pick your favourite and use it in the formula. For example, from this study, we know the average daily engagement on an intranet is 13%.

(Adoption Factor) = This is a number between 0 and 1 representing the ease of adoption of that channel within your organization. If people would have to go through a lot of hoops to use it, then the number would be very low, for example, maybe one in ten people would do it without threat of punishment or promise of reward. It also allows you to weigh, for example, the access to say the mobile app. Is it automatically going to be on everyone’s phone, or do they need to download it themselves? Will they be using an account and password they already know or are they going to need to setup and remember a new one? The best way to think of this is to consider twenty people and guesstimate how many of them will have no problem opening that email, getting setup on that app, or accessing the intranet.

An Intranet Reach Example

While everyone with a computer gets to enjoy the intranet on a big screen, asking the 2,300 front-line employees at Flightward to access the Intranet portal on their phones is not possible. Front-line employees do not have access to the Intranet at Flightward, a common practice by many organizations. So, let us work through the formula.

Number of Employees who will access to the platform = 700

Typical engagement on the platform = 13% – as mentioned above, is the standard based on industry studies

Now as for the Adoption Factor. If you have a very mature and effective Intranet, we would suggest a factor between 0.80 or 0.90. If your Intranet is not effective or mature, then a factor of 0.3 to 0.5 might be more appropriate. At Flightward, they have a good Intranet that has got something for everyone, though there’s room for improvement. Let us use a factor of 0.8.

Adoption Factor = 0.8.

With all of that, we can now calculate the potential reach of the Intranet.

Intranet Potential Channel Reach = 700 * 0.13 * 0.8 = 72.

This means that, based on some quick math, the Intranet is only likely to really reach, on average, 112 employees of the 3,000 at Flightward. That is just 3.7% of the total employee population.

Reviewing All Channels

You can repeat those calculations for your other channels – email, mobile apps, etc. Of course, if you have time this simple calculation should be performed for each of your audiences and from there you can create a coverage map for your organization.

Finding your potential reach by channel will help you figure out a proper multi-channel strategy that maximizes the impact of your communication.

In a future article we will show you how to increase the accuracy by incorporating employee personas in the calculation.

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When it comes to communications platforms, the Sparrow teams aims to not only to deliver the best value product but to also be the partner that’s there for you. We work closely with our customers, sharing where we’re going, listening to what they would like to see in our platform, and always thinking about how we can make them even more successful with our platform. At Sparrow, we believe that corporate communications can be transformative. Sparrow – Built for CommunicatorsBook a conversation with us today.  

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