What Marketing can Teach HR about Engagement

Have you ever wondered what makes companies like Amazon and Netflix so good at engaging their customers online?

According to New Uses for Marketing Automation in the December, 2016 issue of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Magazine, their key to success is personalizing content to each customer:

The Key to Online Employee Engagement is Personalized Content

“Personalizing website content has become perhaps the most essential use for marketing automation technology. Five or six years ago, customers didn’t expect websites to adapt around them, but since then they have become habituated to the customized experiences delivered by companies such as Netflix and Amazon.  For this reason, more companies are starting to incorporate marketing automation into their inbound marketing strategies.

So, in our lives as consumers, we’re expecting – and receiving – personalized content, thanks to marketing automation technologies.

And if personalization engages customers outside the workplace, can it also engage employees inside the workplace?  Can HR departments apply this marketing automation tactic to drive more engagement with their employees?

Christopher Hannigan of Edelman Consulting things so, and explains why in the article The New Marketing Landscape and What it Means for Employee Engagement:

“Leaders of employee engagement and communications should take the spirit of Communications Marketing to heart and apply it to their own programs and approaches to engaging the workforce. Similar to how companies must earn – not demand – the attention of consumers, they must also earn the hearts and minds of their employees through compelling content, delivered in the right ways.”

And compelling content is content that’s relevant to the employee.  What makes content relevant is that it’s been highly adapted to the individual context of the employee.

Micro-target Segments

In another article, Hannigan explains, “The success of future employee engagement campaigns will rely heavily on the ability to micro-target segments of an employee population. This involves identifying specific segments that will play an outsized role in helping a company achieve specific outcomes and then connecting with those employees on a regular basis with resonant information and activities.

Segments could include mothers with children under five who have worked fewer than five years, current smokers or employees who tend to be early technology adopters.”

Content geared toward “micro-targets” will be more likely to captures the employee’s attention than the traditional broader groups like “All managers” or “US employees."  In companies like Amazon, marketing automation technologies create these micro-target segments of customers.  They do it by tapping into the data in their CRM systems for data.  That data includes customer demographics, browsing and purchase data.

How HR can build Micro-Target Segments

For an HR organization wanting to create micro-target segments of employees, they can tap into the employee data in their core HR systems.  The HRIS typically contain dozens to hundreds of data attributes about each employee.  Combining several attributes is what produces these micro segments.

Once you’ve created the micro segments, you can map a particular set of content to a specific segment.  By doing this, an employee will only see that content that’s highly relevant to him or her.  And that’s the start of personalization, and greater engagement.

Business-to-consumer companies have been very successful in engaging their customers by delivering more personalized web content.  HR organizations can achieve similar success by creating highly relevant content, and mapping different content to different micro segments of the employee population.

Rather than build an HR best practice from scratch, let’s use the template that’s been field tested by consumer companies that are already engaging us!