How could Gill Matthews forget those? It seemed like they were everywhere.
“My little corner of the office was filled with these purple balloons,” recalled Matthews, the Marketing & CX Director at Isentia, a media intelligence and insights business with operations across Asia-Pacific.
When she led the company-wide rollout of the Dynamic Signal platform in 2018 to replace an outdated intranet as the internal communication system, Matthews knew she faced a mammoth task. Getting employees to use any new software is a challenge. But it was even more involved at Australia-based Isentia because the organization’s 1,500 employees are based in 12 different markets.
“It’s so important to drive adoption,” she said. “We didn’t want to have this big bang, and then see interest drop off. We knew that we had to work to build trust and show everyone the value it would add to their lives.”
So, Matthews pulled out all the stops with an internal marketing campaign that featured clever branding and transformed the launch of the “GAP” platform into a festive happening throughout the company. (Hence, the balloons.)
The result, even with just a tiny budget, was 98 percent adoption among employees for a platform that now fills the communication gaps at Isentia.
Let’s repeat that again: 98 percent.
“By the end, I was emailing people to sign up,” added Matthews, laughing. “Our company goal was to have 100 percent of employees onboarded and logged in, so we’re close.”
“We kept the letters and said that now we fill the GAP with communication, with knowledge, with everything about Isentia,” Matthews said. “Everything that employees didn’t know where to find now had a home. The best part is we already had those 500 people who could advocate around the rest of the company about how easy it was to use.”
Here’s how Isentia filled GAP with those other 1,000 employees.
The first month was all about building awareness that this cool platform would enable employees to stay informed about everything happening at Isentia – including news from offices in other countries.
Invitations were sent to all employees explaining that GAP was replacing the intranet and how to get on the platform. There were reminders at all-company meetings. The CEO sent out an email. Matthews followed with an email of her own. Individual team executives also explained why this was important.
“GAP gurus” – employees already using the platform for social media advocacy – were recruited as volunteers to answer any questions. They had those balloons and little signs above their desks that said: “I can fill in the GAPs.”
Added Matthews: “We posted teasers on our other channels that said: ‘Have you checked out GAP yet?’ We tried to create little pieces of content everywhere that let people know that something big was coming and really drive people to this one platform.”
For the next couple of months, the cajoling and persuasion continued – along with training and some friendly competition. Matthews held informational webinars at different times of day to make it as convenient as possible for people in various time zones.
“We had a philosophy to be flexible in our training methods and timings – tailoring sessions to specific teams – encouraging different groups to join in a multitude of ways so they could learn and understand the value to them,” Matthews explained.
The Isentia company culture embraces office-to-office competition. So, prizes awarded to the teams with the best adoption rates. This encouraged executives to get their people on the platform, she added.
There also was a focus on good content. When employees visited GAP, they felt it was worth their time. They were learning things that enriched their work lives.
A crucial part of the launch strategy was to create a GAP Advisory Panel of eight to ten people throughout the company – in sales, IT, different office locations, and so on. This group essentially shares ownership of the platform. The panel proved invaluable at this stage because Matthews now granted permission for employees to begin contributing their own content to GAP.
“We had to make sure that everyone was going to share appropriate content,” she said. “I didn’t want my advisory panel checking every post because that’s not fair to them or what we’re trying to do. But they clearly helped set the right tone because so far it’s worked out really well.”
Judging from the metrics that track what content people are accessing, posting and sharing, GAP has been a hit, Matthews said. The amount of platform content has tripled. It also has authentically captured the culture and personality of Isentia. New hires sign up for the platform as a key part of the company onboarding process.
“When you get onto GAP as a new starter, you quickly can see what your office is all about,” she added. “Who might you want to hang out with? What kind of tone of voice we use? It has a nice, organic feel. That’s the biggest reason why so many people have enrolled.”
GAP really has filled in the, well, you know.
Seven Tips for Driving Adoption from Isentia
- Find out what employees want. Matthews conducted a survey to learn what people were using on the intranet (accessing the employee directory, for one) as well as what else they wanted in an employee communications management platform.
- Incorporate early adopters. Having employees who have already used the platform (like in a pilot program) can create some peer-to-peer buzz that gets people excited. The Isentia employees who were already using GAP for social selling helped spread the word among their colleagues.
- Focus on ease of use. “For us, it was important that most people felt comfortable simply following the invitation and figuring out the platform for themselves,” Matthews said. “Everything is found in just one place and makes sense. It’s simple. All people had to do was log in.”
- Avoid making it “one more thing.” When Isentia launches a system, it removes something else so that employees don’t feel overwhelmed. In this case, GAP replaced the intranet. The Yammer enterprise social network will be disappearing soon, too.
- Get executives involved. Constant reminders from the CEO and others in leadership got the attention of the Isentia workforce.
- Make it for the employees. “To build it into a habit, people have to feel like they own this,” Matthews said. “It can’t be Gill’s platform. It has to be your platform. If this was going to win with everybody, it needed to be driven by everybody.”
- Turn the launch into a real event. Did we mention the balloons?