Developing an Effective Communications Strategy: Data-Driven Insights for Success

If crafting a successful internal communications strategy is eluding you, you’re not alone.

Why do so many organizations struggle to create and maintain an effective internal communications strategy?

In some cases, it’s simply a lack of priority. Leadership may not see the critical role that strategic communications can play in aligning teams, increasing productivity, and achieving organizational success.

In other cases, leadership may simply not have the time, resources, or expertise to build an effective communications strategy. So, they resort to vague mission statements or adopt rigid plans that do not adapt to the organization’s ever-evolving needs.

Both situations are unfortunate yet avoidable when organizations:

  • Set clear and attainable goals
  • Follow the data
  • Communicate with intention

Here’s how to do exactly that.

Setting the Foundation

You need a foundation before you can implement an effective communications strategy. To build it, you must:

Establish Ownership and Responsibility

Organizational messaging is most effective when it comes from two or three consistent sources. In short, know who is responsible for sending what to whom.

This approach ensures consistency in communication, builds trust among recipients, and eliminates confusion.

Nail Down Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Pinpoint the right KPIs to measure the performance of your messages, going beyond the usual stuff like open rates. Instead, use engagement metrics like:

  • Time spent reading
  • Employee feedback
  • Actions taken in response to the communication

These metrics will give a more nuanced understanding of the effectiveness of your strategy.

Know Your Audience

Consider segmenting your audience into smaller groups, allowing you to send personalized messages that resonate with each group.

Targeting specific divisions, departments, or time zones ensures that the right information reaches the right people — which boosts engagement and understanding.

Select Communication Channel(s)

Before choosing the appropriate channel for your segments, you need to know which channels employees use and prefer.

To find out, conduct surveys. Ask questions about employees’ usage, what channels they find most effective, and if they have any suggestions for improvement. If your organization already has communication tools in place, analyze the usage data to identify which channels are the most widely used.

Create Alignment With Company Initiatives

Ensure your messaging aligns with your company’s overall goals and priorities — and be prepared to adapt if those goals change.

Additionally, be cautious about over-planning. While detailed messaging plans can be helpful, they can also become outdated if the company’s priorities shift unexpectedly. Flexibility ensures your messages stay relevant and aligned with the organization’s evolving needs.

Set Benchmarks

One mistake we see organizations make is only comparing themselves to, well, themselves.

While a five percent increase in your open rate is commendable, it might not give an accurate picture if the industry standard is twice that amount.

To gain a comprehensive understanding of your situation, it’s essential to consider external benchmarks that reflect industry standards and best practices.

If you want to see how you stack up against the competition, download our free 2023 benchmark report. The report offers email intelligence from over three billion internal emails to nearly 14 million employees globally.

Send Messages Earlier in the Week

When is the best time to send messages? Our research shows two things:

  • Tuesday messages yield higher read rates
  • Friday messages show the lowest read rates

Why? Our suspicion is that on Mondays, people are catching up after the weekend, and they may not be fully in the groove yet. By Tuesday, employees are more likely to be settled and receptive to reading.

Send Messages Earlier in the Day

We also recommend sending messages earlier in the day — preferably before work hours.

By delivering your emails around 6 or 7 a.m., they’ll be sitting in your recipients’ inboxes when they start their day. And if you’re using a tool like PoliteMail, you can schedule this in advance, so you won’t have to wake up at 5 a.m. just to send an email.

But this begs the question: When you send messages early in the day, doesn’t it increase the likelihood of that message being buried in employees’ inboxes amidst the morning influx of emails? That’s a fair point — and why your message must stand out.

Make Your Message Stand Out

To make your message stand out, send them from email addresses that make employees pay attention. Using the CEO’s or an executive’s name as the sender, for example, adds weight to the message and increases the odds of it being read.

Keep Subject Lines Short and Sweet

When it comes to internal communications, short and sweet subject lines are essential. Aim for around five to seven words to grab employees’ attention and encourage them to open the email.

This rule also applies to the body of the message itself. Keep messages between 100-250 words.

Target Your Distributions to Smaller Audiences

Targeting your email distributions to smaller audiences can significantly improve the impact of your messages.

Keep in mind that not all departments have the same interests or duties. Instead of bombarding everyone with a massive, company-wide email, send narrowly targeted messages to specific groups. This ensures that each department receives information that directly applies to them.

Go Heavy on the Images

Next, spice up your emails with eye-catching images! If you’re sending out a newsletter, images can make a big difference.

While simple all-text messages, like a short note from the CEO, can work well, too, you’ll find that newsletters come alive with captivating visuals.

A word to the wise: no cheesy stock photos, clip art, or old photos featuring employees who no longer work for the company!

Ensure Messages Are Mobile-Responsive

Your goal should always be to give users a smooth and user-friendly experience — which means your messages should be optimized for every device.

Consider Reading Level

We once worked with a client who was sending messages at a university reading level. It’s no wonder employees weren’t engaging! Use simple and direct language that’s relatable and watch reading time, engagement, and clicks soar.

Limit Hyperlinks

To boost your click-through rate, keep the number of links in your emails to a minimum. Ideally, try limiting it to just one link.

That may sound challenging, especially if you have a lot of information to share.

One way to achieve this is by sending shorter and more frequent messages, each containing a single story or topic with a corresponding link. This approach not only simplifies your message but also increases the likelihood of recipients clicking on the link.

Set a Routine

Establishing a routine for sending emails is a powerful way to engage your audience. By maintaining a set schedule, you create anticipation among your recipients, who’ll come to expect your messages on specific days.

Give employees consistency, and your messaging will have far more impact.

Micheal DesRochers is a managing partner at PoliteMail Software

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