Employees as Brand Champions: Why Internal Marketing is Your Secret Weapon

Ioana Andrei
By Ioana Andrei, Updated on May 19, 2024, 9 min read

Passionate and well-informed team members tell future recruits, sales prospects, and one another how great your company is. Nay, they shout it from the rooftops.

 

This is the power of internal marketing. It educates, motivates, and retains your talented team.

In this guide, we cover the benefits and challenges of internal marketing campaigns, how to plan and execute them, and the best internal communication tools to use.

 

 

What Is Internal Marketing?

Internal marketing is a set of activities that advertise your company’s products, values, and benefits to employees. It’s meant to engage and inform staff members, who, in turn, have greater job satisfaction and promote the business to their networks and customers.

 

Its similarities with external marketing include stages like audience research, campaign planning and execution, and producing written and visual assets. That said, internal marketing treats employees like internal customers and uses private channels—like work chat apps—to engage them.

 

 

What Are the Purposes & Benefits of Internal Marketing?

Here’s how internal marketing benefits your business.

 

 

Higher employee engagement

A third of American employees are engaged at work—higher than the 23% worldwide. However, the organizations with the highest retention, productivity, and well-being rates have around 70% engagement.

 

Internal marketing increases employee engagement in two ways. First, it creates a positive, supportive culture that strengthens workplace interpersonal relationships. Second, it bolsters employees’ connection to the firm’s mission, products, and customers, boosting motivation.

 

 

Lower staff turnover and hiring costs

Quitting costs the US economy around $1 trillion a year. Meanwhile, replacing a departing colleague costs your business up to twice their annual salary. 

 

However, internal marketing strategies—including fair pay, advancement opportunities, and improved relationships—help reduce turnover. By working out your staff’s top challenges, addressing them swiftly, and branding as a top-notch employer, you can expect increased tenures and a 50% cost-per-hire reduction.

 

 

Stronger brand and reputation

Engaged employees share their positive work experiences with their friends, families, and professional networks. Plus, they boost your brand’s reach, for instance by re-sharing your content on social media and email. 

 

Thus, your internal promotion feeds your external reputation, increasing brand awareness, customer loyalty, and sales.

 

 

Enhanced customer outcomes

Internal marketing turns proud employees into proactive brand advocates. With improved knowledge of product unique selling points (USPs) and business updates, they’re better equipped to improve customer outcomes.

 

For example, customer service reps solve problems more quickly, external marketing teams develop more creative campaigns, and salespeople win clients over with their enthusiasm

 

 

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Who Is Responsible for Internal Marketing?

Appoint a person or team who coordinates your internal marketing, such as an operations or HR manager—or a dedicated internal marketing employee. This individual or group builds the strategy, evaluates the results, and owns the initiative’s success or failure.

 

That said, implementing a successful internal marketing strategy is a company-wide effort. Here’s how different departments can contribute:

 

 

  • HR: Research employee engagement, offer attractive benefits, and track individual and team achievements.

 

  • Marketing: Produce content such as newsletters, blogs, and visual media, schedule communications, and track engagement metrics.

 

  • Product and sales managers: Share new developments, including customer feedback.

 

  • The leadership team: Celebrate top performers and communicate strategic announcements.

 

  • All departments: Engage with internal marketing communications, offer honest feedback, and support co-workers.

 

 

 

The Common Challenges of Internal Marketing

You may encounter these obstacles while executing your internal marketing.

 

 

Reaching different groups with one message

Approaching diverse sub-groups with one brand message can be tricky. For example, millennials and Gen Zs prefer informal, snappy, highly visual campaigns, while people born pre-1980 might need more formal language and extra time to engage.

 

The solution? Identify the makeup of your audience and their preferences. You might then create group-specific materials, or personalize elements in unified campaigns.

 

 

“Selling” to a disengaged workforce

You may struggle to articulate your brand value proposition if your staff is currently disengaged from the products, mission, or team.

 

First, identify the most impactful disengagement areas—such as a lack of product knowledge or trust in management. Second, take baby steps. Instead of overwhelming staff with “out there” campaigns, start with a few hours of monthly engagement (like newsletters and town halls) and add more touchpoints over time.

 

 

 Addressing employee dissatisfaction

Your internal promos might raise eyebrows if employees’ top issues are left unsolved. 

 

For instance, dissatisfaction with compensation, flexibility, or development opportunities can keep employees from becoming brand advocates. Identify your staff’s main grievances and swiftly resolve the top three.

 

 

Building Your Internal Marketing Strategy: A Step-by-Step Guide

Whether you’re building your internal marketing from scratch or refreshing it, follow this process.

 

  1. Research your “market”

    Analyze your employees’ current understanding of and feelings toward your brand and workplace. Gather data through company-wide surveys, interviews, and focus groups, and analyze sentiment on internal communication channels.

     

    Specifically, find out:

     

    • People’s demographics (like age, gender, and race) and firmographics (such as job title and tenure) to check for groups’ preference variations.

     

    • How they describe different company elements, including its external branding, mission, values, products, management, and policies.
    • How they rate their engagement and whether they’d recommend your business as an employer.

     

    • What business areas they’re most eager to engage with, such as strategy, product, employee-led initiatives, or social responsibility?

     

    • What channels do they prefer to engage on internally, such as chat, email, social media, or virtual meetings?

     

  2. Set internal marketing goals and guidelines

    Once you understand your workforce’s needs, set quantifiable goals such as:

     

    • Increasing employee engagement and retention rates within a year.

     

    • Improving understanding of cross-departmental services, goals, and achievements.

     

    • Enhancing feedback culture and interpersonal relationships across business units.

     

    Then, write internal brand guidelines covering:

     

    • The tone of voice: For instance, casual, inspiring, calming, educational, authoritative, or eye-level. 

     

    • Color scheme and visual design: Including proper logo use plus new or existing brand assets.

     

    • Suggested and discouraged content: For example, post employee workplace images (with consent), but no visuals from their personal lives in company comms.

     

  3. Plan specific campaigns

    Next, break down your strategy into specific campaigns with:

     

    • Channels and touchpoints: For example, email, chat apps, and video calls are channels. Weekly line manager check-ins, town halls, weekly newsletters, and benefit offers are touchpoints.

     

    • Owners and deadlines: For instance, marketing owns copywriting and design, while HR owns distribution. Set weekly and monthly deadlines.

     

    • Distinct messages: Your weekly newsletter, say, might communicate “we are a fun and ambitious company,” whereas drop-in product updates suggest “we deliver the best customer value in our niche.”

     

    • Key performance indicators (KPIs): For an achievement celebration campaign, KPIs could include comment and reaction numbers, and team engagement scores.

     

    Additionally, aim for a mix of internal marketing campaign types, including:

     

    • Promotional: Aiming to inform and equip, and often information-based and time-bound. An example is communicating product benefits or team achievements through email, chat, and socials.

     

    • Integrated: Embedded in everyday work life, aiming to support. Examples include a respectful and tolerant culture, generous benefits and compensation, accessibility and diversity policies, and two-way communication with leadership.

     

  4. Execute your plans

    First, find a flexible communications platform that lets you craft and distribute your internal marketing campaigns. For example, Spike lets you send comms with a unified chat and email inbox plus video meetings, and plan your messaging with collaborative docs and tasks.

     

    Also, assign a campaign team, but don’t push brand advocacy onto employees. Those who feel pressured to engage may burn out or become skeptical. Instead, aim for two-way conversations throughout your campaigns. For instance, in town hall meetings, spotlight people of all seniority levels

     

     

  5. Track progress and re-iterate

    Collect campaign metrics and compare them to your targets or audience research data. For example, send a second staff survey a year on to check if engagement rates increase. If so, your strategy is likely making headway.

     

    You may find, however, that some campaigns are unsuccessful—say, a weekly product newsletter with low open rates. Create hypotheses such as “we’re sending the newsletter at busy times” and test them (for instance, by sending emails at other times.) Finally, label your theories as true or false, and either improve or replace your campaigns.

 

 

Internal Marketing for Remote Employees

Almost 8 in 10 US employees work from home some or all of the time. While gaining more work-life balance, a remote or hybrid workforce might also struggle to build work relationships and brand loyalty.

 

Here are some tips for executing internal marketing in remote teams.

 

 

“Selling” to a disengaged workforce

  • Increase digital touchpoints to offer employees choice in what they read, watch, or attend. Examples include chat, newsletters, social media, blogs, virtual town halls, and 1-to-1 mentoring calls.

 

  • Include calls-to-action in digital comms, such as emails and chat announcements, to encourage two-way engagement. For instance, say “nominate a colleague who went above and beyond in the past month.

 

  • Design opportunities for coworkers to support and celebrate one another. For example, create a Spike channel labeled “# Team Spirit” or provide admin support to workers volunteering to lead cross-skilling sessions.

 

 

Making It Happen: Practical Examples of Internal Marketing

Stuck on where to start? Here are a couple of internal marketing ideas.

 

 

Invest in employee well-being and development

Take care of your employees to showcase your company values in action. For instance, offer:

 

  • Benefits such as free gym passes, mindfulness or wellness app subscriptions, and entertainment event tickets.

 

  • Socialization opportunities such as weekly informal events and team trips.

 

  • Free passes to conferences and up-skilling courses.

 

Track this campaign’s success by measuring engagement rates and qualitative feedback with your original campaign goals.

 

 

Promote teams’ achievements

Employee recognition is a low-cost, high-return strategy. Workers who feel under-recognized are twice as likely to quit—but personalized appreciation from the right figure deepens engagement and satisfaction.

 

Do: 

 

  • Gather and quote positive customer feedback, spotlighting the individuals or teams that earned it.

 

  • Detail what makes an achievement great, such as delivering under pressure or innovating a process. 

 

  • Ask individuals like department heads or line managers to post acknowledgements, rather than using impersonal corporate accounts.

 

 

Leveraging Spike Teamspace for Internal Marketing Success

Spike is an internal communication app that helps you plan and manage your internal marketing activities. Here’s how.

 

 

Engage and celebrate employees in team chats

Spike’s channels and groups help you engage your whole workforce and individual teams. Using multimedia content like text, images, videos, files, and voice notes, you can foster a positive culture and share branding materials to increase loyalty.

 

Plus, video meetings are a click away, facilitating events such as workshops, all-hands meetings, and feedback sessions without leaving the Spike workspace.

 

 

Promote updates with conversational email

Spike’s email inbox turns complicated threads into chat-like conversations. So, your team accesses critical company updates in one place instead of fishing through inboxes. Better yet, all your chats and emails mix in the same convenient interface.

 

Plus, you get Magic AI, an intelligent assistant that helps you generate and refine your internal marketing messages. For instance, it can adopt a specific tone and type of communication, or proofread your copy for a sleek finish.

 

 

Promote updates with conversational email

Spike keeps your marketing planning and execution under one roof. Your campaign leads can collaborate on shared documents in real-time, take notes, track tasks, attach assets, and more. This helps you hit internal deadlines and targets more efficiently. 

 

Also, getting feedback from coworkers or your “target audience” is just a message away on Spike.

 

 

Wrapping Up: Increasing Engagement With Internal Marketing

Internal marketing turns employees into brand advocates, in turn reducing your turnover and cost-to-hire, and enhancing your brand reputation. While you can appoint a team to research, plan, run, and track campaigns, your internal marketing should engage the whole team, from leadership to junior staff.

 

Common campaign examples include product update newsletters, employee recognition messages, and fostering a supportive culture. With a robust communication platform like Spike, you can both distribute messages via email, chat, and meetings and plan your campaigns using collaborative docs and tasks.

 

Get started with Spike for free today.

Ioana Andrei
Ioana Andrei Ioana has worked for 4+ years as a management consultant in the tech and telecom industries. With a wealth of enterprise and start-up client experience, Ioana is also an accomplished SaaS and B2B tech writer.

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