Internal marketing: 5 strategies that work

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Your company’s employees are among its most valuable assets. Internal marketing strategies can boost important efforts such as reducing employee turnover. By helping your employees to better understand your organization’s mission, you can help them to become powerful brand advocates online and offline.

What is internal marketing?

Internal marketing represents the set of activities that promote an organization’s mission and objectives to its employees. These practices are driven by goals such as increasing employee engagement and retention. In addition, internal marketing efforts can support employees in becoming brand ambassadors and advocates.

You’ll need to approach internal marketing differently than your external marketing efforts, but the two strategies should align with one another. Ultimately, internal and external efforts should promote a holistic view of your organization and its mission.

Benefits of internal marketing

Employees who feel deeply connected to their work and to the overall mission of their company are more likely to represent your brand in a positive light. Employee advocacy begins with employee education and engagement.

When employees feel disconnected from their work, they’re more likely to seek out other opportunities. And they certainly won’t go out of their way to speak positively about the company or the work they do.

The benefits of internal marketing extend to many aspects of the business. Some of the top benefits include:

  • Reduced employee attrition. When employees feel valued — and feel that their work is important — they’re less likely to look for greener pastures.
  • Lower hiring costs. Organizations perceived as great places to work don’t need to spend as much money to attract top talent.
  • Higher productivity. Employees are more likely to focus on producing great work when they feel they are contributing to a worthy mission.
  • Improved employee satisfaction. Recognizing the hard work employees do helps them to feel proud of their accomplishments.

5 internal marketing strategies to increase brand advocacy

Internal marketing tactics encourage a positive working environment. Whenever you engage your employees in the following activities, make sure they have the time and resources to participate fully. Forcing employees to partake in internal marketing activities while they have more important responsibilities, like serving customers, can lead to the opposite of your intended impact.

1. Brand education

Helping your employees to understand the history and mission of your company is an essential component of your internal marketing strategy. It’s also an important step in building an inclusive company culture. By helping your employees to feel like they are a part of something bigger, they may be more likely to participate in brand advocacy.

Onboarding is the perfect time to introduce new employees to your company and corporate culture. This might include presentations, videos or graphics explaining how the company has grown and evolved since its inception. These efforts may also include giving away freebies like branded sweatshirts, water bottles and similar products. Even if employees in your company don’t wear uniforms, these gifts can help them feel more like a member of the team.

Beyond the onboarding experience, brand education can help employees to stay up to date with the current incarnation of your brand. As your organization reacts to market changes and evolves along with your external market, your internal marketing campaigns can keep employees in-step with these broader concepts.

2. Employee recognition programs

An effective employee recognition program can be the central pillar of an internal marketing campaign. This is especially true for smaller organizations with fewer employees. Recognition helps team members know that management sees and appreciates their hard work.

There is a wide variety of shapes that your recognition program can take. For instance, managers can write thank you letters to employees. A handwritten note offers a personal touch that rewards like small gifts just can’t touch. Alternatively, recognition can take the form of a fun party game like an employee award show.

At the other end of the spectrum, large organizations have seen great results with managed incentive programs. These types of programs offer employees experiential rewards such as afternoon excursions to a local sporting event or longer trips to exciting destinations. According to research from the Bersin Group, companies that offer incentive programs see 14% higher employee performance than organizations without incentive programs.

3. Integrated communication apps

As more teams operate remotely, internal communication apps have become increasingly essential to employee engagement efforts. Apps like Slack enable employees to easily share information with one another while reducing dependence on meetings.

Employee communication is a basic use case for communication apps. Internal marketing campaigns can use this technology to deliver branded information and keep everyone in alignment with broader company objectives. For example, you could use apps to announce new product or service rollouts.

In addition, apps can offer powerful ways to measure engagement. You can easily see who has adopted the app and who uses it most frequently. This data can show you which employees are your best brand advocates. You can also leverage app usage reports to support future internal marketing campaigns.

4. Employee roundtables

Do your employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions? Employee roundtables can offer a safe and constructive place for employees to get together with management and share their ideas. Roundtable discussions should allow individuals to disagree with one another while remaining civil and respectful.

This is a great opportunity for collaboration between your human resources department and your marketing department. Insights gleaned from the discussions can inform new HR initiatives and support the marketing team in understanding what employees like or dislike about the company. Transparency is key. Managers should minimize their own interactions and focus on listening to what their employees have to say.

5. Bonding activities

Your internal marketing plan should include activities that are focused entirely on helping your employees to feel like they’re part of the team. In other words, not every activity should be about promoting your brand to your employees. Sometimes, people just need to kick back and have some fun.

Taking your team out to lunch is a fun way for employees to get to know one another in an informal setting. By increasing employee comfort levels, it becomes easier for team members to share ideas, ask questions and even drive innovation.

Three internal marketing KPIs to track your progress

Effective internal marketing experiences will have a positive impact on a number of areas within your organization. The following key performance indicators can help you develop a sustainable and successful internal marketing program:

1. Employee productivity

Taking benchmark measures of employee performance before and after implementing your internal marketing program can show you the impact it has on tangible deliverables. For example, let’s say your campaign includes sharing sales strategies with other departments. You should see that your marketing team is in alignment with the sales process.

Or say you’re trying to decrease the number of internal tickets to your company’s IT department. Monitoring adoption of your internal communication app can show you if your employees are communicating with each other about technology troubleshooting.

2. Employee retention

At the end of the day, effective communication empowers employees to perform their jobs according to expectations. Internal communications should make employees feel more engaged with the organization’s overall mission. Tracking retention and turnover rates can help you understand how your employees feel about the work they do. In addition to monitoring turnover rates, you should also review exit interviews to see if there are any trends in the reasons employees give for moving on to other opportunities.

3. Online interactions

Are your employees communicating with each other? Are they sharing branded stories to their personal social media channels? While it can be difficult to monitor these digital interactions, they can show you exactly how your employees feel about the company mission. Engaged, satisfied employees are more likely to share their experiences and accomplishments with their personal networks, for example. Likewise, a high level of engagement with your organization’s internal chat apps can show you how your teams collaborate with one another.

Successful internal marketing campaigns can turn employees into effective brand ambassadors. This in turn can have a positive impact on your external marketing efforts. To learn more about how to align advocacy marketing with your organization’s broader content marketing strategy, check out our comprehensive guide.

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