1. Employees as Consumers

Level up with consumer-grade messages.

Employees are exposed to a lot of daily communications, not just from your team or your company, but also from personal emails to pop-up videos, retargeted ads, tweets from the kids and social media notifications.  There's a lot of noise for you to cut through. If you aren't as sophisticated and visual as an Adidas ad you might not get noticed. Today, the expectation is that your employee communications will be as sophisticated as daily consumer experiences.  

3 Solutions to Use: 

  • Place your messages - like you would an ad or banner - in the places your employees spend much of their time - like Microsoft Teams. 
  • We love words. You love words. Most of us are writers by nature and trade. However, add visuals like short videos or 10 second clips to get the messages across. Why? Research has proven that "videos on landing pages are capable of increasing conversion rates by over 80%, and the mere mention of the word “video” in your email subject line increases open rates by 19%."
  • It's no longer good enough to do a one and done. Send your communication several ways, using different subject lines, CTAs or channels. For example, if you know a group hasn't opened an email, resend the exact same email with the subject line "Resend" in it. You'll be amazed at how many people will open the message the second time around. 

2: Repeating Yourself

The marketing tenant called The Rule of 7 says a person needs to see a message seven times before they remember it. Try sending your content out in a few different iterations, via multiple [targeted] channels, so that there’s a good chance employees see it enough to remember. If locking in a behavior or change initiative isn't the goal, but you want them to take action, read the next section.

But before we move on, consider this. If you don't have the ability to track your email open rates, which can range from 45-80% typically for an internal email, or pull a list of  those who actually read your email or viewed a content page, how are you going to reach the remaining 60-90% who ignored it?

3. Prioritize

Not everything can be "Must-Read".

While most executives will tell you that their content is must-see, not everything can have the same level of importance or urgency.

Build trust, and therefore engagement, by differentiating between the 'nice-to-see' and mandatory or 'must-read' communications. You can do this many ways, including creating a subject line naming convention to make sure that the vital messages stand out. Acknowledging that you value employees  time, however obliquely, is a nice, personal touch that is always well received.

One tactic we've seen used well is the executive summary at the beginning of a newsletter, complete with links. Like the overview we have in the beginning of this guide, it allows employees to skip ahead. It also gives you critical data on what topics are proving to be popular. It's a great test of the kind of content your audience finds interesting.

4. Make it Personal & Targeted

Every communication should be as relevant as possible

In a crisis situation, sending the right messages to the right people at the right time can be critical. Normally, there is a lot of time and effort put into the distribution lists for breaking news.

But for the rest of the everyday communication, it can be tempting to hit +Global rather than go through the effort to create smaller, dynamic distribution groups. However, the tradeoff is well worth it. And with the right technology, not too difficult.

You might find, for example, that for some employees email may not be the best way to get their attention. They may respond more readily to a message in a Microsoft Teams, Yammer or Slack channel, or to a text on their phone.  Or they may prefer to get communications all at once early in the morning, rather than throughout the day.

Tactics for targeting and personalizing your communications:

  • Segment your employees into distribution groups that correspond to the nature of your communications. Typical groups are by geography, business unit, remote workers, management, managers (however, if you never create content parsed by different management levels, then don't create different management level groups). SharePoint pages will follow the groupings you set up automatically.
  • It goes without saying that it helps to keep your employee database clean. Some studies have shown that bad data could potentially cost companies as much as 10–25% of their revenue. Here are some tactics to help keep it up to date.
  • Use an employee survey to find out how employees prefer to receive communications, what kind they like the best, and at what time of day.  Don't assume the data coming out of your HR system (which usually feeds communication distribution lists) contains the information you need.
  • Take the leap and ask employees if they want to opt out of any particular type of communications. Don't be offended by their responses. Find out why they aren't engaging. A request to unsubscribe from a particular channel might reveal a shift in a particular regional or cultural preference.
  • But don't just take their word for it. Analytics don't lie. Always confirm open rates and click through data against the employee feedback to see how well your employees' stated answers align to their actual behaviors.

5: Data, Not Stories

Verify what employee say with data of what they do.

Employee communicators pride themselves on being good listeners. But relying too heavily on anecdotal feedback, and not digging into usage data, is a trap. Employee communicators should be tracking at least these 6 user analytics:

  1. Employees who spend less than 10 seconds reading an email (e.g., read time is less than 10 seconds)
  2. Employees that are deleting employee comms emails without opening them
  3. Employees not clicking on any links (click rate is zero, or click through rate is zero)
  4. Number of responses to Teams/Slack messages or time spent on a Teams/Slack channels
  5. Number of shares or comments on internal social media channels (e.g., Yammer, SharePoint, Slack)
  6. Referring sources of visits to an intranet or Teams page (social, email, text, etc.).

At a minimum, knowing and using these analytics data can help target and curate messages to the right employee groups. At most, you can analyze the data to optimize content and delivery at the right times, on the right channels, and based on prior employee behavior.

6. Technology Makes it Easy, Efficient, Effective

You might be shaking your head at all the manual labor that would seem to be required to executing all of these recommendations. 

But if you have the right technology, like Velaku’s content tools that can push one message to multiple channels, email data that tracks open rates, clicks and read times, and an HRIS sync’d with your employee directory that allows you to tag and easily create lists of people (everyone in New York who wants a text sent at 5:00PM, for example), this is all easy to do with a lot less effort than you are using today. 

Employees are, as we're fond of saying, a captive audience - but communicating accordingly with them won't work. Treating employees with respect and engaging them with targeted, personalized and relevant content goes a long way to ensuring they read every single message from you.