Technology is changing quickly. Society, consumers, employees are busy. The expectation to 'grab my attention quickly or I will move onto something else' means there is additional pressure being put on organizations to deliver superior, quicker, and more engaging employee experiences. Communication strategist Michelle Brown looks at how personalization is one way to create a meaningful connection and greater engagement.
In this highly commoditized world, it is often hard to grab the attention of our target audience. We are constantly competing for people's attention, be it in the workplace, within our families, and even our friends. Communication these days is instant, malleable, changeable and constant white noise. We are competing for people's attention every second of the day.
That is why we have to be smart, relevant, and relatable — creating a meaningful connection with those we are trying to talk to is paramount. You only have once chance, so you must make it count.
The case for personalization
Personalization is a growing trend in marketing and e-commerce, and research shows a clear link between personalized strategies and return on investment. Increasingly, employees will expect internal communications to demonstrate a knowledge of their personal interests and needs.
For many organizations, personalization still primarily means putting someone's name in an email, letter or direct mail piece. As an internal communication agency, we believe that personalization is about more than that — it's about understanding demographics such as age, location, salary and occupation, as well as the psychographic, behavioral, attitudinal, situational and contextual needs of our audiences. We work with our clients to deeply analyze their data. We analyze trends, patterns, communication type, subject line, and delve deeper into ensuring the connection makes sense and changes behavior.
Personalization can be the backbone to creating a meaningful connection and greater engagement in the pursuit of the best employee experience.
Designing a personalized internal communication experience
Our approach to personalization is steeped in an eight-step framework — analyze, segment, design, target, execute, measure, optimize, repeat. We use a reason rationalized and structured customer insight framework in our approach of how we design and define a user's profile and in so doing create a more personalized communication experience. The more information and attributes available the more precise the profile and level of personalization created through our communications. The richer the data, the more insightful and accurate the personalization and customer experience.
When it comes to creating a personalized user experience, it really starts with understanding the customer journey. What do you want to share with the person, how do you want them to feel and ultimately what do you want the person to do?
The next stage is to create an empathy map. What does the user experience look like? What is the persona of the person or audience you are trying to communicate with? What other considerations do you need to be mindful of — such as time restrictions, low level of engagement, lack of understanding, competing priorities? When you overlay this with data insights and analytical tools, you can then build the ultimate user profile or persona. Use this to design a highly personalized internal communications experience, which can be tracked and measured, creating a great connection with your employees.
Here is how we would pull this thinking together in an example. You are trying to engage with a person who just started their first job and is eligible to receive pension benefits through their employer. You send them an email with a subject line — Helping you to make the most of your future today with a link to an online portal or mobile app. Drawing on the user profile created for this individual as part of the customer journey and empathy mapping exercise they are served with a call to action that resonates with them with a personalized look and feel appropriate to that user segment.
Using what you know about the user, you should deliver high-quality communications in a simple, efficient and effective way that is both contextualized and relevant. This not only supports the customers want for a quick solution but also eliminates the need for printed forms or follow up - making it faster and easier to interact with them. This further appeals to the customer that you really understand them, providing them with targeted and personalized solutions. If, for example the customer then clicks on search within the app or perhaps live chat, a follow-up email or SMS can be sent asking if they were able to receive the information they were looking for and providing them with additional help channels to support them should they need further information as well as providing additional links to information they may also like to know about. You could even send them a congratulations email or communication acknowledging their recent download of the app or interaction with their online portal. This plays to the point of providing user-centric and relevant communications and guidance and reinforces the opportunity for users to engage with you on a regular and ongoing basis and in so doing strengthens and deepens the relationship they have with you.