WHITE PAPER ITAGroup, Inc.
HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU? Communication is one of the many challenges you face when you’re working to successfully execute a loyalty program. Remember in your younger years when your exasperated Mom, after imploring for the fifth time to pick up your room, would finally ask, “How many times do I have to tell you?”—or why you hadn’t acted on her pleas? It turns out that many companies have the same trouble when it comes to communicating with—and increasing the performance of—their own employees. Communication experts such as ITAGroup Inc.’s award-winning Marketing Communications Group understands the unique needs of internal loyalty programs and has the right communication tools, solutions and strategies to motivate employees to maximize their performance—and improve your bottom line results.
KNOW YOUR (UNIQUE) AUDIENCE It can be quite an undertaking to help your company’s employees make the connection between their efforts and the rewards you offer. It’s often a more elusive challenge to make your own company’s message stand out and win employee buy-in, especially if participation in the program is based mostly on free will. This is also a distinct difference from a program designed for channel or alliance partners, where your biggest challenge lies in aligning them with the products, services or technologies you want them to market and/or sell versus your competitors. In an internal program, you’re trying to motivate employees by aligning them with your company’s vision, team and corporate goals and business objectives. What’s the best approach? Here are some tips to help you get started.
MOVE FROM EXPECTATIONS TO ENGAGEMENT Many employers, given today’s economic pressures, either fret over their return on investment for the program, or grow frustrated with the level of response they get from their own employees. Maybe they don’t get great attendance for kick-off meetings or a 100 percent open-rate on carefully-crafted emails from management. Yet, according to results from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) 2009 Response Rate report, what’s considered a successful response rate is usually much lower: Open rates for a house list were 14.92 percent and the conversion (or response) rate for a house list is 5.26 percent. This data helps show that, in reality, employees have a lot of other things on their minds—and even on their “home court,” companies have to cut through the clutter to reach them.
ROI: MORE THAN JUST NUMBERS Employers who are looking for a solid ROI for their program often pin their success solely on response rates or sales figures. Assessing a program’s ROI should start with fostering employee
© 2011 | ITAGroup®, the associated design/logo and Driven by Loyalty® are registered service marks of ITAGroup, Inc. All rights reserved. | Page 1 of 3
loyalty. In fact, the return on your investment is engagement—and the evidence is growing that aligning employee efforts with corporate goals, and increasing employee brand awareness of and loyalty to their company, is a direct contributor to bottom line results. According to a recent Watson Wyatt Report, when employees are highly engaged, their companies enjoy 26 percent more employee productivity.1 Additionally, a recent Towers Perin/ISR study found that earnings per share (EPS) for companies with higher levels of employee engagement rose by 28 percent, compared with a drop of 11 percent in EPS among companies with lower levels of employee engagement.2 The experts at ITAGroup have found that employee loyalty stems from a deliberate and thoughtful communication strategy. This strategy is centered on targeted, consistent messaging delivered via various media to meet the unique needs of employees, and ties into the company culture. Loyalty is driven by communication that ensures participants understand the program, know where they can find additional information, realize what's in it for them, and discover how to be more successful.
BUILD A PROGRAM THAT WORKS While no one can guarantee an exact return on your program, there are several best practices to consider to help ensure you give it the best chance of success—and help your employees achieve the type of results you know they are capable of. Some of these practices include:
When employees are highly engaged, their companies enjoy 26 percent more employee productivity.1
Assign ambassadors In an internal program, one of your most effective communication strategies is to enlist the assistance of management as “brand champions” or “ambassadors” throughout the company. After all, in many cases, it is the front-line supervisor who can put a face to the program and talk it up, and whose interactions with their employees help personalize the program experience. This is especially helpful in a decentralized or diverse workforce— ambassadors can serve as the persuasive and common communication links who are able to reach targeted audiences and personally share program updates and results.
Count on measurement When you’ve made a significant investment to implement the program, you have to know if the program communication is producing desired results. For example, is participation in the program increasing? Have sales results been positively impacted? So, a fundamental element of your communication strategy should include measuring the results—and ongoing performance— of your program. Effectively gauging your communication efforts involves analyzing quantitative results such as determining how many people open the ongoing HTMLs you send. But gathering qualitative data is just as—if not more—important in determining how effective you are in compelling participants to take action. Tools such as participant surveys—and the frank comments that often accompany them—can help answer the essential question, “Am I seeing changed behaviors or increased employee engagement as a result of our communication efforts?” These issues represent the essence of your communication campaign. Move the middle Within most companies, the middle majority of your targeted audience has the potential to make the biggest impact on your organization’s performance. Consider an effective productivity-based initiative that will leverage your top performers while you manage, motivate and reward this critical audience. When your middle moves forward, so will your company.
© 2011 | ITAGroup®, the associated design/logo and Driven by Loyalty® are registered service marks of ITAGroup, Inc. All rights reserved. | Page 2 of 3
Repetition is key. Repetition is key. From consumer mailings to corporate campaigns, what does it take to get through to people? The message you communicate as part of an internal performance improvement program needs to be consistent and frequent if it is to resonate with employees and compel them to take action. For example, ITAGroup designs communications with the 3-5-10 frequency rule in mind. According to John Ferrell, of Improvement magazine, “Communicating three times will get a message heard; five times will get it understood and 10 times will get it acted upon. If you are not communicating 10 times during a program, you are under-utilizing the opportunity.” Go off-brand There are unique advantages of implementing an internal program versus communicating with channel partners. Since you have established communication channels, employees likely know where they can get their information and are familiar with the communication process. This familiarity should aid in the awareness of the program and assist in bolstering response rates.
It’s your chance to inject personality and fun into the program, which helps create employee buzz and build engagement.
Additionally, since your employees are already familiar with your brand, it gives you the opportunity to be more creative and go “off-brand” with your program communication—to give employees something different from the standard corporate look and feel. It’s your chance to inject some personality and fun into the program, which helps create employee buzz and builds engagement.
Blend tradition with innovation Today, it seems as though the methods of communicating with your employees are endless. From ever-traditional print to the "new norm" email to emerging social media, the options continue to grow. Use what works—what's always worked—and begin to merge new technology to enhance your message and exposure. In this era of social media, companies are asked to be increasingly transparent and personal. Social sites such as Twitter and Facebook allow a whole new type of communication to take place that has previously been unknown to most businesses.3 Consider all the innovative vehicles and social media that can help you quickly communicate with your employees, easily share information and reach new audiences.
CREATE A COMPLETE PROGRAM All of these elements are needed to give your company the best chance at a successful internal loyalty program. Behind every program, you’ll find an underlying communication campaign that takes a big-picture approach, which means aligning your employees with corporate initiatives, discovering what motivates them, finding ways to consistently reach them and employing an ongoing strategy to measure your program efforts. 1 2 3
Watson Wyatt 2008/2009 WorkUSA Report Towers Perin/ISR Employee Engagement Report, www.isrinsight.com, July 2008 “The New Business Paradigm in the Age of Social Media,” http://mashable.com/2009/09/22/social-media-business
» Learn more about implementing a program to drive employee loyalty at your organization.
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About ITAGroup Business is driven by loyalty. ITAGroup drives that loyalty with a comprehensive
range of loyalty solutions. We combine incentive programs, rewards and recognition, group travel and event management to engage employees, motivate channel partners and ignite customer devotion. And we rely on traditional business values like hard work, integrity and great client service to make sure our clients are successful. Let ITAGroup drive the power of loyalty for your company.
© 2011 | ITAGroup®, the associated design/logo and Driven by Loyalty® are registered service marks of ITAGroup, Inc. All rights reserved. | Page 3 of 3