Essential Guide to Effective Communication Measurement for CMOs

November 6 2023

For CMOs, understanding the importance of effective communication measurement is vital. Looking to validate and amplify their communication successes, CMOs – or chief marketing officers – need to be aware of effective strategies that truly reshape the broader landscape of organizational impact.

Let’s be honest. The headline in the first draft of this article was “CMOs, can you justify the importance of communication and defend your position?” And that made me yawn, too! The story of communication as an underrated support function is tired and uninspiring.

Of course, there’s an element of truth in that story: right at this moment, countless CMOs are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They might be looking for ways to back up next year’s budget proposal, or to prove how indispensable they are within the company. Yet there’s no question that communication is a pivotal factor for the success of any organisation and a cornerstone of operations in times of crisis. Communication and marketing are not just support functions.

Effective communication measurement should be all about using tools that make sense and feel relevant. After all, as a CMO, you have a top-down view of everything the organisation does, so ask yourself whether those actions have a genuine impact. Whether you’re battling your way towards Christmas or happily cruising along, these few questions should help you identify the best tools for shaping next year’s plans.

effective communications measurement1) The importance of communication measurement for CMOs

If you want to demonstrate the strategic impact of communication, align your goals with the organisation’s strategy and employ metrics based on that strategy. Work out ways to make your efforts and progress visible. Validate and showcase what’s been achieved. How has the big picture changed?

2) Aligning measurement with your organisational strategy

Quantitative and tactical factors are often the easiest to measure. Business or sales growth, engagement metrics, list expansion, customer satisfaction… too easy, just lay out the numbers.

Measuring perception and qualitative factors, on the other hand, is more challenging and time-consuming. Are you changing people’s perceptions or thinking? Are you getting through to the right target audiences? Keep in mind that tracking the growth of the skills base, motivation, and pride within your own organisation is equally relevant.

Qualitative achievements often require persistence. The world moves fast, yet sometimes change can take a long time.

3) Tackling qualitative measurements

Whether measurement is a struggle or a breeze, it’s always a good idea to follow the path to change incrementally (see visual). Change rarely happens without us validating our actions and engaging in dialogue with others. Action cascades through the funnel, leveraging transformation on all levels of doing.

Communication measurement funnel
Communication measurement funnel

Which of our actions are we measuring and how are we assessing those? How do our stakeholders see us? Did we manage to spark conversation beyond our own organisation, and what’s the tone others use when talking about us? Only after addressing these questions does it make sense to consider our role in changing the big picture —whether that’s about how others perceive us, the use of our organisation’s services, or our goals for wider societal change. Another pivotal aspect of effective communication measurement for CMOs is consistency.

4) Why consistent measurement matters

No one can succeed without the right attitude and commitment. It’s not enough to check your progress every now and then and wonder why it’s all so challenging. Commit to measuring and tracking developments as if you were in a reality TV show: with a mix of apprehension and total dedication. And when you do make progress, that’s something to shout about, as long as you keep it balanced. If you only share successes and never talk about failures, you’ll jeopardise both learning and trust.

We measure because we want to validate and communicate our achievements. So, how can we change the big picture? Communication plays a central role in organisations, and it should never be reduced to a support function. For a CMO, it’s crucial to showcase the impact of communication by aligning it with the organisation’s strategy and using effective communication measurement tools that convey not just quantitative results but also qualitative and perceptual change. It’s imperative to embrace measurement, monitor progress, and communicate openly about both successes and failures.

Anni Kosunen
account director, Ellun Kanat
Ellun Kanat is a Helsinki-based change agency. We’re made of seasoned communication and marketing professionals, project dynamos, business consultants, political heavyweights, ex-journalists, a myriad of visual masterminds, and special education teachers. Our superpower is to drive change in the right direction through impactful communication and a thorough understanding of societal context. Anni Kosunen is an account director at Ellun Kanat. She is a brisk all around communications specialist who has diverse first hand experience of building online communities and creating strong messages. Anni has a deep understanding of technology-mediated communication, media phenomena and audience commitment.

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