Split Testing Internal Communications

Split testing is a marketing tool that companies use to evaluate the impact of their marketing messages. They will take a key message and test variations of it against two (or more) groups, then compare the results to see what worked best. It helps over time to define the best and most effective communication method for the target audience. So why don’t we do this internally?

In addition to my day-to-day HR work, I’m also tagged as the Communications lead at work. I get to distribute the minutiae, but I also have a hand in delivering news with a larger impact. Recently I had to share some news that I assumed would not be popular. I was given the core details and had to craft the communication around that in a way that eased the message and helped people understand why the process was changing.

If only…

If I had split tested the message, I could have sent a test to 4 or 5 people, then sent another test to another 4 or 5 people. Next I would have compared notes on which message was better received, easier to understand, etc. Then I could have sent the best and most effective message out to the masses, confident that I’d delivered the best information available.

But I didn’t. And I’ve learned my lesson.

Since then I have had to help respond to many of the questions and comments surrounding the decision. A few tweaks I had considered making before delivering the message were discarded as “too much information” or “redundant,” yet the questions I’m getting make me realize that I could have taken care of those by adding those seemingly useless elements to the original message. Lesson definitely learned.

Sometimes speed is important, but don’t sacrifice the morale of your staff because you want to rush information out the door.

Thankfully all is good now, but I have been kicking myself mentally over something I should have done. Anyone else ever done any split testing at work, whether in communications or not? I’d be curious to hear the results…