Just a few days after a Fortune 100 company launched its mobile employee communication app, it was clear that something extraordinary was happening. The company’s brand new app was trending upward.
And up and up.
By the end of the first week, it had created enough buzz to crack the iPhone’s Top 10 list of most-downloaded apps – which, by the way, displaced Buzzfeed. Not bad for an app that wasn’t even a week old and was only accessible by the company’s employees.
This is what a successful rollout looks like.
On one hand, this simply reflects our modern world. All of us live on our mobile devices. It’s how we communicate in our personal lives. It’s also why smart businesses recognize that an app is the best way to engage and inform its workforce. As soon as this company offered its employees an avenue to conveniently connect on their terms, they jumped at the chance.
But this also was a great example of an organization putting time, thought, and effort into making sure workers quickly embraced a better method of communicating with their company. Getting a mobile app into the hands of employees is only the first step. Driving exceptional adoption requires a well-crafted launch strategy.
With that in mind, here’s a Top 10 list of proven things that organizations, like the aforementioned Fortune 100 company, have done to ensure that employees get up and running quickly. (Note: a common thread is the importance of making the launch a memorable event. A mobile app is cool and fun. The rollout should feel that way, too.)
(1) Get Executive Buy-In
This is, by far, the most important thing you need to make your program a success. When leaders are involved right at the start, it rallies the troops and provides instant credibility. A leading wireless telecommunications company arranged for 20 or so top executives to receive an onsite demonstration before unveiling a Dynamic Signal mobile app to the company. This ensured leadership was onboard and set the tone for the entire organization that this was an important initiative.
(2) Mobilize Middle Management
Sutter Health introduced its new mobile app at a meeting of organization managers. The idea was to empower them as the change agents throughout the healthcare system for something new. And it worked! They were so successful at evangelizing the app at a grassroots level that Sutter shattered its initial first-year adoption goal within just four months of the launch.
(3) It’s about Employees, Not the Company
Frame the rollout as a response to what you’ve heard employees want. The company is investing in this technology so the workforce can have what they asked for: more information that’s timely, relevant, convenient, and accessible to them.
(4) Promote, Promote, Promote!
The weeks prior to launch should be treated like the run-up to a Hollywood blockbuster movie. Build excitement with posters, flyers, and messaging on your existing communication channels, like email or collaboration tools such as Slack. It shouldn’t be a secret that something big is coming. Another way to ensure you have the entire organization’s attention is to time the launch alongside a regularly scheduled event, such as a sales kickoff or a town hall meeting.
(5) If You Create It, They Will Come
The expression that “content is king” really is true. Having news-employees-can-use-immediately available on the platform – from Day One – is the best way to ensure folks will keep coming back and the app will quickly become the primary source of company information. Delivering fresh, entertaining content that matters to them shows that the organization cares about who they are as people and not just as employees. (One idea: have the first piece of content be a video from the CEO welcoming them to the new app.)
(6) Make It a Must Have
Turn the app into the access point for information employees want the most. For instance, that company with the red-hot app uses it as a way for the workforce to access their pay stub information.
(7) Low Barriers to Entry
Don’t make it difficult to register for the app. Requiring people to answer too many questions in the signup process creates needless friction. It should be as seamless as possible to get onboard.
(8) Create a Community
Encourage employee contributions to generate momentum for the app. Again, Sutter Health is a fantastic example. Employees have embraced the opportunity to submit content about success stories they see throughout the healthcare organization every day. It has built a culture of pride and led to an explosion of social media sharing. People post and share things because they want to, not because they’re told to do it. When organizations make great stories available, employees are likely to show their networks the good things happening at their workplace.
(9) Traveling Roadshows
Companies with work sites around the country (or world) have created a roadshow that officially unveils the app at each facility. They make it a party with food, music, and giveaways. It’s an opportunity for leadership to explain how this is going to make the lives of employees better and to answer questions. One common tactic is handing out swag, like T-shirts or gift cards, to people when they download the app. Another Fortune 100 company in the technology sector took professional headshots of employees so they could update their photos on social media. And if a full-blown celebration isn’t feasible, schedule hands-on training sessions so everyone feels well equipped to use the new app.
(10) Crawl, Walk, Run
Start with a simple launch plan. Create great content and information intended for the entire company. Then gradually expand the complexity of what’s offered on the app, and how it’s segmented to target audiences, as your communication team becomes more comfortable with the tool.
And a bonus tip . . .
Metrics Are Your Friend. The great thing about a mobile app is that communication pros finally have data to measure success. The number of downloads. What content is resonating. What posts are being shared? You can see what’s working and what’s not. Then you can tweak your content strategy to create greater early adoption . . . and keep employees engaged over time. The ultimate goal is to make the app indispensable in their daily lives. Well, that and maybe trend on the most-downloaded apps charts, too.