As internal communications professionals, it’s easy to think of marketing as something that only exists to gain customers—a tactic that belongs nowhere near employee engagement. Marketing is in a different department with independent objectives and strategies. It does not live in your world. So the phrase “employee marketing” may send a shiver down your spine.
However, as unique as they may seem, employee communications and employee marketing are actually two sides of the same coin. Both exist to increase engagement, deepen relationships, and accelerate business growth. And when only 32% of US employees are engaged, it may take marketing best practices to help elevate this number.
Employee engagement is critical to business success in all aspects (productivity, revenue, brand sentiment, etc.), and when employees feel connected, engaged, and empowered to be their best, companies thrive. Employee marketing is tangentially related in that it involves aligning employees around shared company values and goals, fostering a unified culture, and enabling employees to act as brand advocates. Internal communications and reaching everyone in a targeted, personalized manner is critical to this.
Why Employee Marketing Works
In today’s world, there are so many different types of workers, it seems nearly impossible to lump them into one category. The vast majority of the world’s workers (80%) don’t sit at desks, which makes them harder to reach and engage. This is why it’s even more important to create unique content that provides them with relevant information about the company.
Equipping employees with relevant company information allows for a more connected and engaged workforce both internally and externally. Feeling empowered leads employees to act as a company’s biggest, and most authentic ambassador and increases their contribution to the company at a higher level. Though it’s natural to feel resistant to “marketing” when it comes to your own employees, gaining an understanding of basic marketing principles can allow you and your team to engage employees in a more effective way—without jeopardizing the integrity of your efforts.
How is this done tactfully?
In order to truly engage your employees, companies must first learn and master the art of employee marketing. This is defined by the importance of delivering personalized and relevant communication to employees based on location, job function, etc. and making it easy for them to access information at any given time. Essentially, it’s recognizing that your employees all come from different experiences and communication preferences, and if you want to be effective, you must tailor your messaging to connect with them.
Tips to Get Started: Channels and Strategies
Connected employees mean productive employees. The more they feel tied to your overall company message, the better they’ll be able to relay that to customers and external key stakeholders. According to The McKinsey Global Institute, productivity improves by 20-25 percent with connected employees. So they’ll not only be more well-versed, they’ll be more motivated to work toward your collective goals.
One of the challenges of employee marketing, however, is knowing where to get started. Here are a few employee marketing channels that you can leverage today to communicate important information and company values.
- Email marketing: This channel is great for office workers or anyone who works in a more traditional office environment. Leverage newsletters and email channels to communicate the latest information they need. You can even segment your audiences based on their role, department, or location. The more personalized, the better.
- Mobile apps: For some frontline workers, field service roles, or anyone who is on-the-go, a mobile app can be a great way to communicate the same information to different employees. You can easily channel information based on the same segments you do in your emails.
- Digital community space: This can live on an internal website or within the mobile application. Either way, providing a central place where employees can get tailored, relevant content is a great way to increase engagement in between announcements
No matter which channels you leverage, it’s okay to reiterate certain messages. Good marketing is all about sending the right message to the right person at the right time – and often that means sending it multiple times. In marketing and advertising, there is a “Rule of 7” – which means people often have to hear a message seven times before it sinks in. SO don’t be afraid to test out the amount of content you deliver to different audiences.
Try using these different audience segments as a way to test different ways of communicating to your audience. For example, one audience group sends a message both through email and mobile. For another, send it just through email. And so on and so forth.
Test different messaging tones and language to see what resonates. You don’t have to boil the ocean all at once, but you can use these various employee audience groups as a way to gain more insight into what works and what doesn’t when it comes to employee engagement.