By Rachel Heisterkamp
One of the many repercussions of the recent shift to remote work has been a significant increase in digital communications. With so many workers now at home and connecting virtually, the only way to reach the individuals at your organization is through digital means – email, Slack or MS Teams messages, a meeting over Zoom, the list goes on. While these digital tools and platforms have greatly improved productivity and connectivity in such a unique and unprecedented time for the workforce, they’ve also created an environment of more noise and a larger communication overload than our employees have ever experienced before.
If reaching your employees about crucial HR programs was a challenging task pre-pandemic, it has only become more difficult and complex in these current times. That’s why, in this environment, simply hitting “send” on an email about your program or initiative won’t cut it. It’ll need to stand out among the thousands of other messages employees receive regularly so that they’ll open the message in the first place, and on top of that it’ll also need to be relevant and engaging enough to drive them to the actions you need for your program to succeed. These milestones won’t happen by accident – but there are proven steps you can take to ensure the success of your communications, and they all start with data.
Data, especially for your most critical people programs – think benefits, onboarding, performance management, as well as strategic initiatives like digital transformation or organizational changes – is the key to understanding the demographics and characteristics of the audience of employees you’re communicating with, as well as the engagement habits and trends that show in clear terms what’s working and what isn’t. In other words, data is an invaluable tool for making sure employees are not only reading your messaging, but truly understanding and engaging with your subject matter.
The Types of Data at your Fingertips
Data is key in understanding a bird’s-eye view of the “what,” meaning your audience of employees, as well as the “how,” referring to the ways your audience interacts with your messaging. Differentiating these two specific data sets will help you both clearly see your opportunities for personalized, more relevant messaging, as well as identify whether your communications are cutting through the noise to engage your workforce. Here’s a breakdown of these two categories of data:
- Audience Data
Audience data refers to the identifying factors of the individuals at your company, such as name, location, department, and more. The set of information is a strong foundation for you to understand your larger audience as it relates to these individual categories, ultimately enabling you to tailor and personalize any communications along those same pillars. When communication is made more relevant and unique to each individual, rather than a blanket email for the entire organization, you’ll find that your messaging is absorbed more quickly and easily by your audience.
- Engagement Data
The second major type of data that can drive your communications is what you’ll monitor after your messaging has been sent – engagement data. When used in tandem with a communications platform that makes this information easy to read and understand, you’ll have the ability to measure the views, clicks, and open rates across your audiences and segments. In doing so, you may discover variances in audience behavior that you were unaware of, which provides an opportunity to tailor your messaging or change course.
Platforms like GuideSpark Communicate Cloud® can open the door to even more invaluable data sets, such as call-to-action (CTA) buttons, or polls and ratings that help you measure sentiment and understanding of subject matter on an even deeper level. You’re able to leverage this information in ways that work best for your organization – optimizing and iterating on your communications over time to find better and better engagement results.
How to Optimize your Communications Using the Power of Data
Once you’ve grasped these basic data types, the way you utilize them becomes the driver for successful communications. Use these best practices to put data and analytics into practice with your internal communication campaign:
Identify trends in your engagement data to understand what is or isn’t resonating with your audience – both at the company level as well as on a demographic level. This will help uncover which audience segments to tweak messaging for, so you’re better equipped for refining the personalization process.
Consider both quantitative and qualitative results. It’s crucial to understand when to focus on the reportable results versus when to dig deeper into the sentiment behind your campaign that may not be as readily apparent. For example, if you’re seeing fairly consistent engagement data across the campaign, but you’re hearing feedback from your employees that they’re seeking more information around a topic that’s missing, that could be a cue to re-strategize.
Analyze program success through actions taken. The best indicator that your communications are succeeding is that your program or initiative is succeeding as well. Compare the engagement data of your communications with any actual program results you may have, such as enrollment data or CTA button clicks. Communication is crucial to engage employees with your program, but don’t forget your overall goals for the initiative itself – including tangible participation, specific actions, and employee buy-in.
Learning to personalize and tailor messaging based on the analytics you’re seeing is a fantastic first step toward successful internal communications, but finding ways to optimize and grow your big-picture strategy as you go is the strongest way to truly reach and engage as many employees as possible. By putting data at the center of your communication strategy, you can boost your ability to measure accurately, then iterate as you move forward – ultimately perfecting, optimizing, and improving results over time.
Connecting your engagement data set with your internal employee data means you’ll be able to easily see how engagement varies among the most critical groups in your organization – and ultimately find much deeper insight into how to specifically optimize your content, your messaging, or your onboarding experience, to drive the program success you’re looking for.