Cerkl Broadcast
Cerkl Broadcast

Internal Audience: How to Engage and Manage Your Employees

Better internal audience management leads to superior audience targeting, improved employee engagement, and higher revenue. Did you know internal comms management is key?
Written by: Penny Swift
internal audience management
Published: April 8, 2024
Internal Comms Audit Guide

Audit Your Internal Communications

Strategy is an important component of internal communications. Ensure you’re communicating through the right channels at the right frequency with our Internal Communications Channel Audit worksheet.

Employees are the backbone of any organization. But keeping them engaged and motivated can be a challenge. 

Most companies don’t pay enough attention to internal vs. external audience management. But research shows that the success of your organization depends on it. Better audience management equals better audience targeting. Communication that is highly relevant and less noisy reduces the barriers to audience engagement. As this aspect of employee management improves, it makes work easier and more enjoyable. This results in engaged workers and can be measured using audience analytics. 

In this post, we’re going to discuss internal and external communication, focusing on internal messaging and internal audiences. We’ll discuss the importance of engaging with and managing internal audiences. Then we’ll explore eight proven strategies that you can use to engage internal audiences. It’s important to know how to tailor internal communications for different audiences within a company, so we’ll highlight a few audiences and provide ideas. And we’ll explain how to leverage technology for effective engagement of internal audiences.

We are also going to tell you how Cerkl can help you engage employees and manage internal audiences.

We’re also excited to share some audience management insights from the Advanced Learning Institute (ALI) Employee Experience & Internal Communications Strategies For 2024 conference. Cerkl Broadcast was the proud diamond sponsor of the event, which looked at optimizing the digital employee experience as well as boosting engagement and driving productivity.  

During the conference, Cerkl CEO, Tarek Kamil had an interesting Fireside Chat with the senior communications specialist from a healthcare company that has more than 10,000 employees distributed across the U.S. The focus of their conversation was the pains the company experienced before they started using Cerkl Broadcast and how the platform has empowered them. 

What is the Internal Audience in the Workplace?

Internal audiences in the workplace encompass everyone from executives and managers to entry-level staff across all departments that are employed within an organization. They are the people you are aiming to engage and connect with through internal communications. These employees shouldn’t be passively listening. Ideally, they should be actively involved in the communication process. 

Importance of Engaging and Managing Internal Audiences

It is vital not to underestimate the importance of engaging and managing internal audiences. 

Workforce management solution specialists, Inch, states that, “Employee management has the potential to either build an exceptional organization or create unhappy workers and costly mistakes.” A good management plan will help to ensure that employees are happier, more skilled, and better able to achieve company goals. This, in turn, improves the bottom line through improved productivity, minimized costs, and a better connection with the company. 

importance of managing internal audiences

Gallup has been undertaking a regular employee meta-analysis for years. This research examines decades of employee engagement and performance data from more than 100,000 teams to evaluate the connection between employee engagement and key business outcomes. For instance, their chief scientist of Workplace Management and Wellbeing, Jim Harter, reports that they have found that when employees are highly engaged, some businesses see a 23% difference in profitability and an 18% difference in sales

According to Gallup’s latest State of the Workplace Report, 23% of employees globally are actively engaged and thriving at work. They experience 26% less level of stress and are 18% more likely to stay in their organizations compared to their actively disengaged counterparts.

More recently, a 2023 Gallup survey found that for the full year, 34% of full- and part-time employees were engaged. So, while executives everywhere are obsessing over the importance of employee engagement, relatively few companies accomplish high engagement and reap the rewards. 

It stands to reason that to get the benefits, you must start at the root – managing internal communication. And that means you need a good internal communications platform.

Internal vs. External Audience Communication and Management

The key distinction between internal and external communication is that your internal audiences are part of your organization. External audiences, on the other hand, include customers, partners, investors, and the general public. When people are in an organization, they want to feel connected to the other people within it — whether it is their peers or high-level executives. However, it can be difficult to manage everyone in an effective, personalized way.

Consider the effort required for mergers and acquisitions, as well as all the new individuals joining your organization who are unfamiliar with it. Or all of the common people-data systems (Workday, AD, PeopleSoft, SAP, ADP, and so on) that require more time and effort to manage.

Audience integration — managing your channels of communication and targeting specific audiences — makes life easier for internal communicators. It can also create a sense of belonging for each employee, no matter their demographic.  

This approach works, but there has to be some sort of consistency within the content. 

Consistent messaging comes from writing in a clear brand tone – something that fits the mission and values of the organization. Do you want it to be formal or fun? Are you including pictures and graphics or going with written communication only? What kind of graphics are you using? Measurement and good execution make a difference if they are done right.

external vs internal audience

Effective Internal Communications

Effective internal communications (using segmentation, analytics, and integration) also make people feel like they belong in the company. This can lead to more productivity and trust in the organization. There are many ways to create this sense of belonging. One is to provide ample opportunities for feedback and idea sharing inside the communications using polls, surveys, and so on.

Internal communicators can fortify internal audience management by providing clear and consistent messaging across channels. This creates a clear brand tone and belonging, which increases audience engagement. In addition, it promotes brand tone in the eyes of its external audience.

Tailoring communication and crafting messages and content that resonate with specific employee groups is key to fostering engagement. Just never forget that internal audiences are not monolithic groups. Employees come from different backgrounds, have varying levels of experience, and hold diverse interests and needs.

effective internal communications

How Do Internal and External Communications Differ?

While internal audiences incorporate all employees at all levels within the organization, the external audience encompasses anyone outside the company. This includes customers, partners, investors, the media, and the general public.

The goals of internal communication are primarily to keep employees informed, engaged, and aligned with company goals. This usually involves sharing company news, updates on policies, training materials, and anything that will foster a sense of teamwork and company culture.

The goals of external communication vary depending on the specific audience.They may be about promoting products or services (marketing), building brand awareness (public relations), attracting investors, or managing a crisis situation.

The tone for internal comms is often informal and direct, assuming a shared understanding of company culture and jargon. Openness and transparency are often valued to build trust and engagement. When communicating with an external audience the tone is commonly formal and tailored to the specific audience. External communication often focuses on highlighting benefits and value propositions relevant to the external audience.

Typical communication channels used internally include company email, intranet platforms, internal social media tools, town hall meetings, and department-specific meetings. Those used for external communication draw from a wider range of channels like marketing campaigns, press releases, social media platforms, advertising, customer service interactions, or media relations.

The success of internal communications can be measured by employee engagement surveys, feedback on communication channels, understanding of company goals, or participation in internal initiatives. External communication metrics can include brand awareness, customer satisfaction, sales figures, website traffic, or media coverage that may be positive or negative.

When comparing internal and external communication methods, think of internal communication as talking to your family, while external communication is like talking to new acquaintances. All you do is adjust your style and content based on the relationship and desired outcome.

8 Strategies for Engaging Your Internal Audiences

There are several proven strategies that you can use to engage internal audiences. By effectively engaging your employees, you can unlock a range of benefits that contribute to a more successful organization. There is no doubt that employing strategies is an investment that pays off. 

#1 Identification of Stakeholders

It’s crucially important to identify your stakeholders. The first step involves mapping out your internal audience landscape. This goes beyond simply recognizing all employees within the organization. It involves identifying different stakeholder groups within your organization.

You can do this by segmenting by department, marketing, sales, finance and so on, because each has its unique needs and interests and you can tailor your communication accordingly. Consider roles. Executives, managers, and entry-level staff might require different levels of detail or context in the information you share. 

Then think beyond departments and obvious groups. Identify temporary workers, remote employees, or part-time staff who may have specific communication needs.

#2 Segmentation of Internal Audiences

Organizations are diverse environments that demand personalized communication. Organizing audiences based on demographics, needs, behaviors, and preferences is essential to be able to address everyone’s needs. This is what segmentation is all about. 

A few preferences include how employees would like to receive information, how they want to be contacted, and what interests them both outside and inside the workplace.

It can be as simple as sending communications on birthdays, only getting information that applies to them, or reminders if they are work-from-home only. With a good internal communications platform, messages can be automated and personalized.

With dynamic segmentation, you get demographics, interests, and data relating to behaviors that are collected in real time. For example, if someone is heavily invested in “diversity, equity, and inclusion” content but not “workers who golf” content, they will only be receiving the information that they have interest in. 

#3 Understanding Needs and Expectations

It’s important to understand the needs of all employees so you can tailor communication to be relevant, informative, and engaging. You can do this by:

  • Conducting surveys to find out what kind of information employees value, their preferred communication channels, and any communication gaps that exist.
  • Engaging with smaller employee groups. This allows for in-depth discussions about communication preferences, challenges, and areas for improvement.
  • Encouraging open communication. Create an environment where employees feel comfortable providing feedback through anonymous suggestion boxes or open-door policies with managers.

#4 Setting Clear Goals and Objectives

It’s vital to set clear goals and objectives that will make employee engagement meaningful. 

  • Internal communication shouldn’t exist in a silo. Align your goals with the broader strategic objectives of the organization. Determine what the key initiatives or areas where effective communication can make a significant impact.
  • Leverage employee input by using surveys, focus groups, or open forums to understand what communication goals resonate with employees. 
  • Don’t just focus on sending out a certain number of emails or holding a specific number of meetings. Define clear outcomes you want to achieve through communication. 
  • Set SMART goals and frame your communication goals using these.
  • Once you’ve set clear goals, communicate them effectively to employees. Explain how these goals connect to their needs and the overall success of the organization.

#5 Establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Establishing KPIs allows you to gauge the effectiveness of your internal communication efforts. Aligning these metrics with your communication goals is crucial. 

Engagement metrics are also important. Track employee participation in surveys, town halls, or internal social media platforms. High participation rates indicate that employees are actively engaging with communication channels.

Don’t forget knowledge retention. Conducting knowledge checks after key communication initiatives helps ensure information sticks. Improved retention rates suggest your communication efforts are successful.

#6 Providing Regular Feedback and Updates

Employees crave a sense of being “in the loop.” Regular updates and feedback are crucial for maintaining engagement. Transparency from leadership is key. Regular company updates, even during challenging times, build trust and demonstrate a commitment to open communication. Leaders should be accessible and approachable.

But communication is a two-way street. Encourage employees to provide feedback through surveys, suggestion boxes, or anonymous channels. This ensures their voices are heard.

#7 Handling Challenges and Resistance

Even the best strategies might encounter roadblocks. Common barriers include information overload, unclear communication channels, or lack of trust. Actively listen to employee concerns and identify the root causes.

By actively addressing challenges and resistance to communication, you can create a more open and receptive environment where employees feel comfortable engaging and participating. 

#8 Measuring Internal Audience Engagement

Audience analytics can change the entire trajectory of your business. For this reason it’s essential to measure employee engagement

Researchers define audience analytics as “using business intelligence and data analysis for people management”. This data can be used to understand the effectiveness of internal communication. By measuring audience engagement, organizations can quickly determine their successes and failures.

For internal communicators, this is a crucial part of success. But, this information may be difficult to obtain. Going to HR or IT to get the info that you need can be a long, strenuous process. Especially when you need the data as quickly as possible. By incorporating audience analytics into your internal communications, you do not have to rely on IT to provide the data for you. It is a streamlined process that gets you the information that you want when you need it, all in one place.

8 strategies for engaging internal audiences

Leveraging Technology for Internal Audience Engagement

The experience of the healthcare company we mentioned earlier is a perfect example of how to leverage technology for employee engagement. 

The senior communications specialist from the company shared how difficult it was for them to keep up with their growth, constantly having to change lists manually. She went on to discuss the tedious process of sending emails and their inability to collect data on engagement. This meant that the data was constantly outdated. Furthermore, the manual system they used was tedious and time-consuming. 

“So you lose all the metrics, you have no idea if anyone is receiving the message, you have no idea if they’re engaging with the content, you lose everything. So that was kind of our reality for a while.”

There were also major security issues. The company’s IT team was concerned. For example, when uploading teammate data into Constant Contact, they weren’t sure who had access to it. “And because of whitelisting, if a spammer was using a Constant Contact account, and they sent an email through Constant Contact to our teammates, that’s a problem from a phishing standpoint because it is going to get through our security system.”

The Cerkl Solution 

Another big problem was needing to communicate with full-time, part-time teammates, not contractors, who were employed before a certain date. With Cerkl they now have hire dates so they can manipulate the data to sort which employees they want to communicate with at any given time. 

“So, it’s about empowering you, so you’re not waiting on HR or IT to even do the foundation things, like target messaging to a specific audience. And all of that is kept in sync automatically.”

Tarek Kamil

“Through Cerkl we can create public dashboards that give us all the unique open rates, and clicks, and access to all of that data. We do share that, but it’s important to share the context with those metrics. What I’ve been really hyper-focused on over the last year, just because we were sending through Outlook and didn’t have those analytics, I would say that our leadership really built the assumption that teammates should start checking their email. And what we’ve seen are 50% open rates. That’s really strong when you think about a desk-less population of that size.” 

How Cerkl Broadcast Can Help You Engage and Manage Internal Audiences

Progress requires trial and error. The most important part is using the tools that are at your disposal. Having the data right in your hands without a middle-man, dividing your audience into key groups of people, and managing your communications channels in a consistent way to manage your internal audiences.  

You shouldn’t rely on subjective feelings to guide your actions. With the right approach and solutions, there will be significant, measurable proof. That is what analytics are for.

The Cerkl Broadcast internal communications platform can help you make your employees happier, streamline processes, and help you reach rockstar status. Our modules like the Broadcast Mobile App, Distribute Microsoft Teams, and the Content Hub are just some solutions that simplify and improve audience management.

Whatever industry you operate in, you can improve internal communication with Cerkl Broadcast. Our audience management platform delivers personalized emails and intranet content to engage and inform employees. Join millions of satisfied employees who trust us to streamline their companies’ communication and improve employee satisfaction.

What’s Next?

Strategy is an important component of internal communications. Ensure you’re communicating through the right channels at the right frequency with our Internal Communications Channel Audit worksheet.

FAQ

What is an example of an internal audience?

These are the people within a company or organization. For example, employees in different departments would be considered an internal audience for a company-wide announcement.

What is an internal and external audience?

An internal and external audience refers to a communication strategy that needs to reach both the people within a company and those outside of it. An example is crisis communication, where a company needs to address its employees and the public simultaneously.

What’s the difference between internal and external audiences?

The key difference between internal and external audiences is their relationship to the organization. The internal version is part of the organization, while an external audience is not. Communication styles and content will differ based on this distinction.

What are internal and external targets?

Internal and external targets are similar to audiences but with a stronger focus on achieving a specific goal. Internal targets could be different departments needing to reach a certain sales quota. External targets could be potential customers in a specific demographic for a marketing campaign.

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