HR Can Use
Martech to Boost Employee Engagement

Just as martech can help marketers better reach consumers, HR can use the products to elicit a higher rate of response from company employees

One of the outcomes of companies adopting a customer-centric approach is a new view for sharing technology across internal functions. Once the blinders are off, conversations about additional practical uses of technology can take place. One such example is marketing working with human resources and using the power of marketing automation to better engage with employees.

As marketing begins to transform from the pens and mugs department to a revenue contributor and partner, I advise marketers to create a cross-functional communication plan based on personas and launched from the marketing automation system. This allows them to see the digital body language of the stakeholders and to course correct through a variety of communication vehicles. Given the success of these programs, it makes sense to use the same strategy with HR.

HR Struggles with Communication

OK, admit it: The last email you typically want to open is from HR. You are already buried in email and this just adds to the pile. Plus, you know it is a mass e-mail and you can look at it later. HR doesn’t know you, and how you respond or don’t respond represents their lack of knowledge.
Your lack of attention to emails from HR creates a communication nightmare for HR. All they have control over is writing and sending the communication. They hope you see it, read it and take action — but hope is typically their only strategy. If you are a marketer using a good marketing automation system, you should be jumping up and down saying, “I’ve got the answer!” The answer is to treat employees like prospects and customers : engage them with personalized omni-channel campaigns.

Campaign Basics: Build Personas

Employees can definitely be grouped by persona. Think about it: You might have a persona for executives, for functional groups such as sales and service, for states, for age, for benefits, for preferred communication channels…the list goes on. While HR has to be careful in what they write in a communication, there can still be some amount of personalization that will improve open and click-through rates. Plus, HR can see who is engaging and who is not. This allows them to make course corrections quickly and based on data.

Campaign Basics: Define Campaign Types

Your next task is to help HR define campaign types. Elements that define a campaign type include the intent, topic, cadence, source, target group, channels, call-to-action and measurement. The intent of the campaign might be to inform, educate, influence or collaborate. HR sends a wide variety of communications, so identifying the general intent of the communication is a good place to begin.

In the context of HR communications, there are lots of different topics. These also need to be categorized into areas such as updates, surveys, stories, general health and resources available. For example, imagine how much easier it would be to have a campaign template developed for large web meetings. The invites go to targeted groups and all follow-up attendance communications are automatic. Plus, HR can see who attended and who did not and can correct course in a timely manner. Your campaign type will dictate the cadence. For example, HR might send communications, as needed, on topics such as a change in leadership. They may also plan a short informational series of regular communications at certain times of the year around open enrollment for employee benefits and a longer series on general wellness tips year-round.

An additional element characterizing the campaign type is the source. Similar to marketing emails to prospects, the open and click-through rates improve if there is a name and a picture of the sender. The target group should be based on your personas. You may communicate differently based on the personas. Channels will vary by employee and by persona segment. Thinking creatively and taking an omni-channel approach is an excellent way for HR to better engage with employees.

As marketers, we know the value of a well-written and well-placed call-to-action in an email. This one lesson would probably improve HR communication and actions required.

Finally, measurement is now possible. HR can develop an entirely new series of employee engagement metrics that will help them improve communications and make it more employee-consumable and -actionable. They can see how different pieces of content performed by persona, they can see who is engaging and what topics are most engaging. They can see the average number of automatic reminders required or what channels are preferred.

Campaign Basics: Track and Improve Campaign Performance
By using a marketing automation system to send communications, HR can test, track and improve the actual campaign performance. Just because we think we wrote the right message, created the best piece of content or had the perfect call to action, chances are we didn’t — and neither will HR. Just using basic campaign performance metrics allows HR to improve communications. Creating a basic dashboard for campaign metrics will help HR adopt a measurement mentality.

Getting Started

It will take time to ensure the quality, correctness and legal compliance for all emails. In this case, the marketer is acting as a consultant and you will need to conduct a discovery project to better understand pains and issues.
Once you have gathered this information, you can suggest a set of use cases so HR can test the idea. The simpler and easier to measure, the better. The use case is a written document outlining how HR would use marketing automation in a specific and limited way. The outcome of a use case is agreement to try. Another outcome is helping HR see if and how this works. This educational process will be critical for HR as they do not have a marketing background.

Use cases might involve a single communication such as an update of benefits. They might involve a short nurture stream such as open enrollment or a long nurture stream such as a monthly company newsletter. The key is to select a use case that will highlight the possibilities and produce quick wins.
Whatever the use case, the idea is that HR can improve their communications with employees; they can improve their understanding of employees and they can share valuable employee data with decision-makers. For marketers, working with HR represents a new group to consult with and a measurable way to make an impact on your company.

Marketing depends on HR to hire talent, so it makes sense to help them communicate effectively and recruit the best employees.

About the Author | Debbie Qaqish

Debbie Qaqish is principal partner and chief strategy officer of The Pedowitz Group. She manages global client relationships and leads the firm’s thought leadership initiatives. She has been helping B-to-B companies drive revenue growth for over 35 years.