How to master internal communications: segment your audience

By Aimee Happ
December 13, 2020
5 min read

Our latest blog series is a deep dive into each of the 7 principles in our Drive 7 Principles Methodology! The aim of this series is to help you become a masterful internal communicator, no matter your experience level. 

Internal communications is about sending the right message to the right audience at the right time, through a channel that they prefer, with some metrics to measure success. All this starts with developing a great strategy, supported by ongoing analysis against company objectives.

Today’s principle is extremely important—audience!

Click here for our newest eBook on the 7 Principles of Internal Communications

The audience principle looks at how well you know your audience (in this case, your organization’s employees), and how you apply that knowledge to the ways you communicate with them.

The old way of communicating with employees would be to send an email to all staff and leave it at that. But nowadays, you need to first assess the message and determine its value to the intended recipient(s) before hitting “send”. Then, it’s all about how you segment your audience!

Questions to get you started

Not all audiences are alike, especially when you’re speaking to diverse groups within an organization. Knowing and understanding who you’re talking to is critical to ensuring your message hits home.

Before sending a communication to your audience, ask:

  • Who needs to see this message?
  • Why do they need to see this message?
  • Would all staff want to know about this even if it’s not specific to their department?

Segmenting your audiences is a terrific way to see higher engagement rates. Not only will you build trust with your audience by sending messages pertinent to them, but you’ll have the freedom to customize and craft content to specific groups.

Download our free audience segmentation template and guide to learn how to segment your audience!

After you segment your audience

Determine your audience’s needs

Once you’ve determined who your audience is, the next is figuring out their unique communication needs and pain points. Here’s how:

Ask thoughtful, specific questions

Your employees may not volunteer information on their needs and pain points. As a business leader or internal communicator, the onus is on you to obtain this information.

The easiest way to get your employees talking is to come up with a few key prompt questions. It may be that your team doesn’t even know what their needs are, in which case you will need to do a little detective work.

Here are a few questions to ask your team:

  • How are things going on the internal comms front?
  • What do you think can be improved?
  • Do you feel your skills are being used and appreciated?

Questions like these help spark healthy conversations and give you a better understanding of your internal audience (they are also just a morale booster overall!)

Give your internal audience the floor

Once you’ve asked your questions, give your audience room to breathe. Remember, the goal is to get them talking about their needs and goals, and they may need time to figure out what these are and how to verbalize them to you.

When your staff are ready to share, listen with patience, understanding and empathy. Encourage them to take as much time as they need, and respond thoughtfully and respectfully. Don’t forget to take notes to show you truly care!

Be a down-to-earth & humble leader

Research indicates that leaders and line managers play a key role in driving employee engagement. It’s no secret that to be a good leader, you must be approachable and personable. Your staff should feel comfortable coming to you with any issues, especially ones involving internal communication.

If you’re a strong leader, your employees—aka your audience—will be more likely to communicate with you what their pain points are, giving you a clearer picture of how to create a powerful internal comms landscape.

Winning your employees’ confidence with kindness, humility and empathy is key to building trust and maintaining an engaged, morale-boosting workplace where messaging flows seamlessly.

Remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint! When it comes to understanding your audience, slow and steady wins the race. As you gauge the mood within your team through questions and conversation, you will soon have a clearer picture of which areas in your internal comms ecosystem are working, and which need improvement.

As you gather this date and amend your strategy and messaging, take note of results and adjust your internal comms efforts accordingly.

There you go! Determining your audience and finding out their needs is a pivotal part in becoming a masterful internal communicator. After all, even if you have a great strategy and fantastic content, it’s no good if it’s not being delivered to the right people! Follow the guide above to ensure your internal comms efforts hit the mark every time.

Click here to download our Audience Segmentation tool!

Segment your internal audiences with intranet software

Feeling overwhelmed and out of depth in your internal communications role?

Talk to our expert team to gain valuable insights and resources to help you improve your internal comms strategy, so you can build a collaborative, efficient, and morale-boosting work environment.

Click here to book a free demo.

By Aimee Happ

Aimee Happ is proud to lead the marketing team at IC and enjoys working with the dynamic and diverse team that surrounds her. She is inspired on a daily basis by the company's mission of empowering internal communicators. Aimee holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Calgary and loves to travel.