best practices

The power of knowing your audience: segmentation in internal comms

Our experts discuss how strategic audience segmentation can engage your employees and drive internal comms success

BY
Samantha McCabe
April 28, 2021

Internal communicators: it’s time to read the room. By that, we mean adapting your internal comms efforts to specific audiences within your organization.

During the third week of their stellar internal comms bootcamp, our in-house experts, Alfie Penfold and Erin Raimondo, delve into a session on “Defining Audiences, Auditing Channels and Crafting Content that Gets Where it Needs to Go.” If you’d like to watch the full session, you can sign up for the May bootcamp series for free.

What is audience segmentation, really?  

It’s important to remember that audience is just one part of our 7-principle methodology on internal comms—which isn’t a checklist, it’s an ecosystem of principles that reinforce each other and all act to bolster your internal comms.

When we’re talking about your “audience,” there are two separate groups we might be referring to. Broadly, we’re referring to who you’re targeting with your message: in other words, your staff members. But then, once we have abetter grasp of that all-staff audience and their diverse needs, “audience” can take on the meaning of discrete groups within that larger staff pool and being able to target messages with more nuance.

Of course, this ties in with the other principles: audience means nothing without quality content to back it up, a delivery method that takes your channel options into account, and appropriate timing. All these factors in concert will help create a well-rounded internal comms strategic plan—but let’s start with audience.

Audience profiling for beginners  

An audience profile helps describe a member of the audience as a“typical person” representing a given audience segment.  

According to Gallagher’s 2021 State of the Sector Report, only 18% of communicators use audience profiles and/or personas to segment their audience. That’s a challenge, because poor targeting will affect the adoption and penetration of your internal communications efforts—a problem that will be solved by effectively profiling your audience.

The following information should be included when you’re building an audience profile:

  • Demographic information: location, job function, seniority, gender, age, language
  • Current values and beliefs: things that people self-identify as—more challenging to gather, but lets you go deeper 
  • Known barriers and facilitators: what could be a roadblock for somebody accessing or understanding your communication?
  • Psychographic information: interests, personality, values, engagement, lifestyle, performance
  • Sources of information and preferred media channels

Here’s what that might look like for a sample employee, before and after you flesh it out: 

You can also use it to drill down into a group of people:

Note that you may not have access to all this information. The onboarding process, all-staff surveys, opt-in content, gradual participation, and manager recommendations are all potential avenues to help you gain valuable intel.

And remember, the more you do know about your employees, the better you can reach them.

Okay, you have your audience profile. How do you use that information? 

It’s time to take your individual and group personas and develop them into internal comms efforts. Here’s a peek at our own matrix, which is provided within our downloadable audience segmentation template:

As you can see, this process will help you take those demographic and psychographic traits and turn them into key take-aways into the channels and content those groups or individuals might prefer. For example, let’s say you’re building a profile for the frontline healthcare workers within your organization, as per the earlier example: as extremely busy employees, they might prefer short and sweet messages over lengthier dispatches.

Now that you’re thinking is aligned with your organization, you can develop key messaging. Ask yourself: What exactly do people need from my messaging? How do specific audiences tie in?

How can Reach internal comms software help with my audience segmentation?  

If you’re still experiencing a sticking point between knowing your audience and tailoring your messaging effectively—perhaps you work at a large organization with a myriad of stakeholders and teams—you might need a purpose-built internal comms software to help.

Our internal comms software, Reach, can help you get your messaging out there, gather feedback, and create a general sense of community and belonging among your employees. Our technology pages will guide you through how Reach will organize your efforts, engage your employees and measure your successes. You can even book a quick, no-pressure demo and try it out.

Illustration woman looking at the 7 Principles Methodology

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