Imagine a company where employees read all their wellness emails and enroll in benefits on the first day of open enrollment. Sound like a dream? Well, with some hard work and a focused plan, you can use data to make that dream a reality.
Data should be at the forefront of every decision that a communication practitioner makes, whether their audience is internal or external. When you engage your employees and discover what types of information and delivery methods they prefer, it’s mutually beneficial. You are able to understand how you should form and disseminate your internal messages, and your employees feel empowered and understood because they are receiving communication they want, how they want it.
Collecting Your Data
Once you identify a need for collecting data and need to learn more about how your employees perceive communication and what techniques may encourage engagement more than others, then you can decide how you would like to collect that information.
Data collection methods fall into two main camps: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative methods consist of more structured data collection and involve testing a hypothesis in a way that produces results that are easy to compare and generalize. These methods include experiments, observation of a specific event and surveys with closed-ended questions. Qualitative methods are less structured and usually not as generalizable as quantitative methods. Qualitative methods include in-depth interviews, focus groups and document reviews.
So, how do you choose which method to use? It largely depends on what type of information you are trying to find, and how receptive your potential target audience may be to certain types of research. Each research method includes its own advantages and disadvantages. You may also consider a mixed methods approach, which leverages the strengths and minimizes the individual weaknesses of both quantitative and qualitative research methods.
Once you’ve collected your data you may be thinking, “what now?” And really the answer is, it’s up to you. The same collection of data can be split in many different ways. The key is figuring out how the data you’ve collected can help you achieve the results you want.
Use your data as a roadmap, let it help you collect insights on the way to your destination. You can analyze your data in many ways, including text, speech and video or image analytics. However, remember to always approach your data analysis through the lens of your initial hypothesis – this will help you draw meaningful conclusions.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide the best way to communicate with your selected audience. Once you have evidence to back up how your audience may respond to different types of communication, you can start to create a strategy that leverages those specific communication techniques. It’s important to think about the colleagues you work with to study your new data – working with the right team can help you efficiently transform your insights into reality.
Hopefully your primary research can offer insight into the communication that impacts certain behaviors you’d like to influence. You can learn more about how to most effectively reach your audience, whether that’s using different types of persuasion in messaging (ethos, pathos, logos), utilizing certain principles of design and art direction including color, placement of images, voice and tone of the copy, or utilizing a specific medium to deliver certain types of messages.
Just remember – how you communicate your data is just as important (if not more) than collecting data in the first place.