“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”
- Tony Robbins (Author, Unshakeable)
One of the questions we hear most often from our clients is “how do we connect with ALL of our employees?” We know that communication is most effective when it is meaningful and relevant to employees, but today’s workforce is so diverse. We have employees spanning four generations – with unique needs, preferences and styles of learning. So, how do we engage everyone? One way to do this is through audience segmentation.
Chances are your marketing department is tapping into consumer data…and lots of it. They’re personalizing the messages to the individual consumer. And they’re using multiple touch-points to engage them. Effective marketing relies on tools to measure customer engagement so they can interact with them on a personal level. Marketing is all about reaching the right people, with the right message, at the right time, in the right way – all while keeping the conversation relevant.
Applying this approach to employee communications is an effective way to keep employees engaged and motivated.
Here are three key steps to follow when creating targeted communication:
1. Consider Your Communication Objectives
The starting point for any communications campaign should be your objectives — ask yourself, what am I trying to achieve in my messaging? Am I trying to get more employees to sign up for a new benefit program, get them to understand changes to a program, or promote a change in behavior? This will help you decide if and how you should segment your communication.
Know, Feel, Do
A simple way to think about your communication objective is “know, feel, do.” What do you want the reader to know? How do you want them to feel? And what do you want them to do as a result?
If your answer to any of these questions is…”well, that depends on the audience”…then, it’s time to consider a segmented approach to your communication. On the other hand, if you can’t clearly explain the need for separate groups, then a unified communication approach may be all you need.
2. Define Your Audience
Think in terms of “employee personas.” When we create messages for a client, we may develop three to five personas that represent the categories of employees we want to engage with. These buckets become more apparent when we look at some basic information we collect about employees, such as their roles, their demographics, their goals and challenges, their values and fears—even the potential call to action or unique message tailored for them.
Generally, there are two types of data to consider:
- Demographics – “Who” they are. You already have access to demographic information about employees that any marketer would covet: age (or generation), geography, family status, salary, etc. Consider how this information may be relevant to your messaging and make use of it.
- Psychographics – “What” motivates them and “why.” While this information may be a bit more difficult to collect, it helps you to understand what’s really important to your employees and what may drive their behavior. You have the ability to gather data about employee needs and preferences through intranet analytics, pulse surveys, face-to-face or social media feedback. Do some research and you can learn a lot about your audience. Tools and technology make this information more readily available to us as communicators.
Now the way you choose to slice and dice your audience will depend on what you are trying to achieve (your objective) and what this means to different groups of employees.
For example, when Company A, wanted to create a campaign to promote participation in their 401(k) Plan, they realized that the messages were considerably different depending on current saving patterns, age, and level of income. By segmenting their audience, they were able to create a targeted communication campaign that was meaningful to each group of employees.
3. Create Targeted Messages
This final step involves creating very focused, targeted messages aimed at each of your segmented audiences. Go back to the “know, feel, do” analysis, and create messages that are valuable to each persona.
Consider the impact of sending targeted messages to your employees about retirement planning or wellness initiatives…messages that are relevant and delivered through preferred channels. As Robbins says, effective communication begins when you dig deeper to understand your audience. When you connect with people in a way that is meaningful, it will drive the results you are looking for.