How to Scale Your Impact with Internal Communications

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I am a technical nerd and I’ve struggled for years to understand why solutions I worked on did not get widespread adoption or go to scale.  I’ve learned that you can have the best idea in the world but if nobody knows about it, it will never be the best solution in the world.
That’s why you may be surprised with how much your communications colleagues can help you scale.
Click through rates, a-b testing, and popular web search terms may seem to be just for marketing to external audiences, but they should matter to you too.  The truth is we need these successful approaches for internal communications as well.  Internal staff can help you scale your impact, or help you connect with those who can, and keep you from falling into the PDF graveyard.
Three Examples from CRS ICT4D Team

  • Starting a Newsletter Doubled Demand for Technology Services: We launched a monthly internal newsletter for the past year that feature success stories on spatial data and a mapping poster competition. Internal requests for mapping use have nearly doubled, and we are hiring another support staff to manage demand.
  • Webinar Experimentation Doubled Participation: When I started hosting an internal webinar series we had a lot of external vendor presentations. I looked at the participation data and realized we had better participation when webinars were from internal presenters.  As well we experimented with cutting the webinar time in half, from 60 to 30 minutes.  These two actions doubled our participation rate.
  • Retooling Website Increased Field-based Readers: We created short, concise one-pagers on each of our supported technology solutions and shared these resources out via webinars, newsletters, internal social media outlets, and technical support staff (this never stops). Our internal website readership increased by 94%, and most-importantly field-based readers jumped from 10 to 150 which we interpret as directly benefiting our program staff.

Lessons Learned in Internal Marketing
I’m proud that our internal engagement has grown so dramatically, and we’ve shifted our readership to field-based staff. Prior to our communication effort, mainly HQ audiences were using our online resources.
Here are a few lessons learned from our efforts:

  • Put the most important information at the top of a web page.
  • Optimize for mobile, including downsizing photos
  • You will lose half of all website viewers after the first page.
  • Newsletters should be a maximum of a few hundred words, the less the better.
  • Keep copy short and hyperlink out to non-essential information.
  • Use consistent formats and imagery to build familiarity and ease-of-use

However this work never ends, it is a continual effort to create short in demand in material and reflect on web analytics to improve the user experience. It is a continual experiment that I monitor through Google Analytics, Hotjar (an analyitics tool that gives you a heat map of where people click), and web resources like BuzzSumo and others that can look at metadata trends.
By Kathryn Clifton, ICT for Development, Knowledge Management and Communications, Catholic Relief Services
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