The answer is probably more complicated than you think, but might surprise you. In fact, it's likely your organization already has a plan, but you might not call it that or follow it with the rigor you know you should. Complex, multi-unit organizations with distributed employees cannot not communicate internally, or they wouldn’t exist. But to what degree is your team’s plan documented, aligned to, executed and measured?
Your customers and prospects are likely the primary audiences in your company’s content marketing efforts. But enlightened brands all over the world realize the fastest way to create engaged customers is to improve employee engagement. So, in addition to your sales and marketing efforts, it will also add tremendous value to build a content marketing plan for your employees.
An internal content marketing plan keeps employee communication and voice consistent throughout the company. It’s also an incredible opportunity to build culture.
According to research from Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., 60% of companies do not have a long-term internal communications strategy at all. Of the businesses that do, 12% do not measure its effectiveness. Without intention, internal communications risk becoming little more than one-off emails that could leave employees feeling disconnected and potentially confused. With only 15% of employees saying their companies are doing a good job fostering communication, it’s time to start beefing up the strategy behind your internal communication plan.
What is an internal content marketing plan?
An internal content marketing plan keeps employee communication and voice consistent throughout the company. It’s also an incredible opportunity to build culture. Every monthly newsletter or intranet post has the potential to be a piece of valuable content in a sophisticated strategy. Organizing these pieces into an internal content marketing plan helps keep track of all communication you’ll deploy, and can help streamline the spread of important company information. A plan will allow you to see, measure and align others to the collective body of communications reaching employees.
Why does internal content marketing matter?
85% of employees say they’re most motivated when management offers regular updates on company news. Your internal communications have the power to voice your values, priorities, and vision for the company. When deployed effectively, they can also build trust and increase employee awareness of company initiatives, organizational changes, business opportunities, milestones and more. The bottom line: Effective internal communications create organizational alignment, adherence to values and, with a plan, can increase productivity.
How do you create an internal communications strategy?
1. Conduct an audit
Establish a baseline. What internal communications are you already sending? Are they effective? Send a brief, anonymous survey to your employees with questions like:
- To what degree do our company’s internal communications help you perform better in your role?
- How much are you learning from our current internal communications?
- How informative do you find our company’s internal communications?
- How well do our communications align with our company’s Mission, Vision and Values?
- Do our current communications help you understand the company’s strategy and goals?
- Where are you most likely to find information on important company updates?
The best way to see if your current plan is effective is to go straight to the source (your employee audience).
The right content to the right audience leads to more engagement and less confusion. Trust us; your employees will thank you for not sending them information that isn’t relevant to them.
2. Define Your Employee Brand
Arguably the most vital step in the process, but oftentimes the most difficult for a company to evaluate. To define your employee brand is to peer in from the outside and gauge what the current views of employees actually are, not just what they hope it is. We like to call it, “reading the label from outside the bottle”, what are the current ingredients within the culture and how can we leverage or refine what is within the bottle.
3. Set clear and measurable objectives
What are you trying to communicate to your employees? Is your intent to keep them informed? Help them align with your values? Generally, objectives will fall into one of three territories: Cost reductions (i.e. reducing attrition), revenue gains (i.e. higher engagement and productivity), and emotional contributions (i.e. the prestige of working in an organization that cares enough to communicate proactively with its people).
Narrow in on the type of information you want to send to your internal audience. And be sure to consider how to include their voice, getting them involved in the conversation. How can your employees give feedback, share ideas or show they’re contributing to the company’s goals?
4. Segment your audience
You might not need to send the same messages to your entire workforce. Personas are a great way to understand who your internal target audience is for all communication and initiatives. The right content to the right audience leads to more engagement and less confusion. Trust us; your employees will thank you for not sending them information that isn’t relevant to them.
5. Choose your channels
Once your existing comms are audited and you have a collection of personas, choosing channels should be fun and easy. Where will employees find communications meant for them? Will you send the full communication via email and then post it to the intranet for reference? Or will you notify them via email with an invitation to visit the intranet? Considering only 13% of employees check their intranet daily, perhaps your strategy should include boosting engagement with this channel.
Internal content marketing is vital in your overall company strategy but it’s more than just having one, it’s about the effectiveness of it. The why behind the plan is just as important as the how.
6. Types of Content
Newsletters are a good start, but shouldn’t be your company’s only form of content. 75% of people are more likely to watch a video than read text. But even if you decide to stick with words and images, you can still make them engaging. Many successful internal content marketing strategies include infographics, reports, quizzes, surveys, webinars and more.
7. Measure, measure, measure. Then measure again.
Are employees interacting with your content? The best strategies include systems to measure results and create new benchmarks in your plan as you and your team crush the previous ones. There are a number of results you could measure, but keep in mind the objectives you defined in Step (3). These are the most common metrics internal communication professionals track regularly.
- Reach – How far and how deep into the organization do your communications go? If correspondence lives on the intranet, and employees aren’t checking their intranet, you might not reach enough people. Tracking reach will help you adjust to challenges like this, and you might need to include new channels (like direct mail or video) to break through.
- Click-through rate - Do your employees open what you send, or is it being ignored? For great insight into whether your content is written effectively, measure click-through rate. If the CTR isn’t as high as you’d like, consider A/B testing subject lines and other content to improve the copy.
- Employee turnover rates - the less obvious metric for success but vital. According to a survey of over 50,000 employees, 87% of those engaged with the company are less likely to leave. This is in sharp contrast with their unengaged counterparts, who are five times more likely to exit the company.
- Engagement with content – Internal communications should inspire action. Otherwise, why do it? Create and deploy content with which employees can interact. This will help you measure more meaningful results, like how many employees are taking action as a result of your content.
Internal content marketing is vital in your overall company strategy but it’s more than just having one, it’s about the effectiveness of it. The why behind the internal content marketing plan is just as important as the how.
Ready to create an electrifying internal marketing plan?