How to A/B Test Your Internal Communications

A/B your test internal communications strategy /
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Approx. 5 min. read
Last updated: June 7, 2018

A/B testing is an excellent way to improve your marketing efforts. Why not use it to improve your internal communications as well?

A/B testing is usually used to improve sales and marketing by creating two different versions of a feature, web page or app to see which one works better. But it makes sense to test and improve internal communications results as well.

When internal communications isn’t able to reach, inform and educate people, knowledge gets lost and employees become less engaged. Companies with over 100,000 employees lose an average of 62 million dollars every year because of inadequate employee communications. Effective internal communication, on the other hand, improves employee engagement and through this, leads to improved employee retention. Making sure your employees are informed and up-to-date with what’s going on in your company has several benefits. But how can you use A/B testing to make your internal communications efforts even more effective?

How to Run A/B Tests for Internal Communications?

Just like A/B testing in marketing, you create a controlled experiment where you run two versions of a website, app, copy or video to two different target audiences (in this case, your employees, preferably in mixed departments), and measure how the results differ.

Your current analytics tools should work well with data analysis for internal communications as well. Study your KPI’s to find the most crucial points of improvement. (If you haven’t set your KPI’s for internal communications, do it now.) Study the open rates of your internal comms emails and other internal content. Track how many page or content views your communications messages get internally. Pay attention to both desktop and mobile engagement rates.

After you have reviewed your performance indicators and analyzed your current success, see what changes are most important to make. Is there a specific department constantly less engaged with internal content, or is there certain type of content that is constantly underperforming? Focus on the most pressing issues to get most tangible results. Set a realistic, measurable goal for the A/B testing and make sure it lines up with the general internal communications strategy. Once you have run your experiments and analyzed your results, remember to make adjustments accordingly.

A/B testing internal communications

What type of Internal Communications Content to A/B Test?

1. Tweak Your Internal Comms Newsletter

An internal comms newsletter is a very important method of communication, especially for larger enterprises. However, as long as your open rate stays low, the newsletter isn’t able to do the job it was designed to do: to keep as many people as informed as possible about the current changes and ongoings in your company. Try testing with, for example, the following variables:

  • Vary the subject line length - will employees open a newsletter with a more concise title, or do they prefer a more descriptive title?
  • Add the most important target group to the subject line or beginning of the text in your B-variable group - while this may drop the overall opening rate, it may improve the engagement of those who most should read the newsletter. Again, remember to test according to your needs and most crucial development points.
  • Try adding pictures to see if they keep employees more engaged with the newsletter.
  • Vary styles. Test between a formal and an informal tone to see which one gets more reads and completions.
  • Test with different fonts, different colors and different amount of whitespace - appearance matters in internal comms too!

2. A/B Test Your Internal Videos

71 percent of communicators already use videos to communicate with their employees. You can include video material to all levels and channels of your internal communications. However, videos shouldn’t be used “just because” - they require a lot of attention from your employees and you must ensure that spending time on the videos is worthwhile to your employees. You can measure, for example, watching time and the rate of completion, bounce rate and level of engagement. Try testing with the following variables:

  • Longer vs. shorter length
  • Instructional video showing how a new product works vs. explaining how the new product work
  • Formal or informal tone and style of video
  • Different settings: outdoors / indoors, meeting room vs. backyard
  • For interviews, vary the people/person interviewed.

3. Test Content Meant for Both Internal and External Distribution

Find out what type of content employees are most likely to share. If your internal content hub includes a feature which allows for an external distribution and a feature with allows you to measure the metrics of external sharing (like we do!), you gain valuable insight of what interests your employees. Content which employees share is content which they find interesting and valuable to both themselves and to their own social circles.

You can measure not only the type of content employees like to share, but sharing times and types of social media content as well. In a way, you can consider your employees to formulate a “mini social media” within your internal content hub. Their reactions to content distributed in the content hub give you a lot of information about how the content is likely to be received by people outside of your company as well.

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4. Polish Onboarding, Training and Engagement Material

Whenever you have an informational piece you want to share with your employees, consider A/B testing between the type of format used to deliver the message. You can measure, for example, how many people sign up for a training or networking event, download a project overview or yearly report or complete a voluntary survey. Try testing with the following variables:

  • Vary between using video and SlideShow for instructional material
  • Vary between plain text with bullet points and text with pictures or infographic
  • For content asking for sign-ups, you can run regular A/B testing for sign-up-CTAs and vary, for example, color, CTA size or action word used.

Conclusion

Internal Communications can be measured, and everything that can be measured can be improved. Most of the technology, tools, and methodologies used for sales and marketing can be leveraged to improve the effectiveness of internal communications. So polish those newsletters to perfection, find the perfect social media messages, make your sign-up CTAs irresistible, and watch your employee engagement rise as a result.

To find more ways to improve your Internal Communications, download our free guide below!

A free guide on how to boost internal communication