Business communication comes in two flavours: internal and external. Both require a communications strategy.
Whether you’re speaking to your customers or sharing information with your colleagues, we’d recommended that you align your internal and external communication.
When your employees are in sync with the message you convey to your customers, it delivers multiple benefits that combine for greater business success.
This post considers the benefits of aligning your company’s internal and external communication. We’ll start with a definition and some examples, then look at six benefits and touch on the implications resulting from the new switch to remote work.
What’s The Difference Between Internal and External Communication in Business?
- Internal business communication is the multitude of daily interactions between the people working in your organisation. Internal communications are there to facilitate the business’s primary function. They include both the company CEO’s morale-boosting speeches all the way to the office junior’s update on postal deadlines.
- External business communications are the messages your company transmits outside of your business.
It’s the marketing materials you use to attract customers or the conversations you have with suppliers and shareholders. Your external communication’s main aim is to promote a positive business image.
A simple analogy is with your immediate family unit. Internal communication happens within the household, and external communication occurs with your extended family and the wider world.
What are Examples of Internal and External Communication?
The internal communications that take place within a business include;
- Formal communications
- Weekly staff newsletters
- Product launch datasheets
- PowerPoint presentations delivered in a meeting, etc.
There are, of course, less formal internal communications as well.
The everyday work interactions that help colleagues get on with their roles still count as internal business communication, like;
- round-robin emails to organise social functions
- quick lunchtime catchup in the cafeteria
- the daily back-and-forth in the company’s chat application
Examples of external business communication include;
- your company website
- the articles posted on your blog
- tweets and images updated on social feeds
- financial reports sent to investors and regulators
The most critical form of external communication is the marketing message you put out to win business.
External business communication can be informal too. The conversations your employees have with friends about your company all contribute to your business’s overall public perception.
6 Benefits of Aligning Your Business’s Internal and External Communications
You can’t control every piece of communication by each one of your employees. So getting everyone on the same page about core information should be a foundation principle of your business’s communication policy.
Here are six benefits of aligned internal and external communication.
1. Increased Business Revenue
The fundamental obligation of any business is to turn a profit. Studies have shown that when your internal and external communications line up to give a unified brand message, it can increase your revenues by as much as 33%.
This impressive figure makes more sense when you factor in that it takes between 7-13 touchpoints to deliver a qualified sales lead. And it’s likely that not every touchpoint will be with the same person in your company.
If your internal and external communications are well aligned, it will result in a more consistent brand message to your prospects and lead to more favourable marketing results.
2. Build Employee Trust and Engagement
It’s never been easier for your staff to share negative opinions about your business. Social media channels and websites like Glassdoor facilitate lightning-fast dissemination of a poor employee experience.
A Qualtrics study found that only 20% of employees felt engaged with their work if their employer didn’t foster a sense of belonging. Conversely, employees that strive to make their employees feel a part of something bigger can expect 91% of them to be more engaged with their work.
Aligning internal and external communications increases engagement and trust when your business’s stated values match your employee’s day-to-day experience. It’s not sufficient to say that your company stands for something, you have to demonstrate that you do with your actions.
It seems that there is still work to be done in this regard. A recent study shows that 75% of respondents agreed with the statement saying their employer’s values were not well aligned with its actions.
3. Use Aligned Communication to Discover Fresh, Engaging Content
The departments responsible for your internal and external communications can combine to produce content that highlights your business’s impact on customers. Your business is packed with rewarding stories where a colleague went the extra mile to help out a customer and delivered a favourable customer experience—but they may be hidden.
Start a dialogue with your customer-facing departments to discover these stories. Then have your external communications team integrate them into marketing materials.
Your customer-facing staff will develop a greater sense of belonging, and your marketing staff will be grateful for the source material.
4. Increase Your Business’s Strategic Alignment
When every element of your business works towards the same goal, that’s strategic alignment. And If you’ve ever used a shopping trolley with one wonky wheel, you understand the importance of everything pulling in the same direction.
When your business’s internal and external communication is aligned, it translates into external authenticity and builds customer trust: both are important for your business’s success.
5. It can Facilitate Business Change
Change is inevitable when you’re in business. Whether it’s a merger, acquisition, or a new initiative—effective communication is necessary to keep the wheels turning. But internal communication can suffer from the need to keep external stakeholders informed of any change. Use a stakeholder engagement plan template to ensure you keep on top of stakeholder communications. Make sure this aligns with your companies internal communication policies.
Your employees shouldn’t discover new information about your business from a press release or other public source; they need to be kept up to date along the way.
Employees going through a change management process can suffer additional stress caused by the uncertainty. Gartner found that 73% of change-affected employees reported moderate-to-high stress levels, translating into a 5% reduction in overall work performance.
The lesson is to align your internal and external communications when your business is adapting through change. Try an avoid the temptation to maintain a public front at the expense of an internal understanding of the change you’re trying to achieve.
6. It Can Help to Build Employee Brand Ambassadors
An aligned internal and external communication strategy helps to turn your employees into brand ambassadors for your business.
64% of marketing executives consider that word of mouth marketing as the most effective promotion type. In 2012 Nielsen determined that over 90% of people trust family and friends’ recommendations most of all.
Creating an army of brand ambassadors from your workforce can translate into higher sales for your business. Not only that, should you make the employment experience at your workplace a positive one, your employees can also assist in attracting a higher calibre workforce.
You can also help your staff to become informal content creators themselves. When a global consulting firm expanded its employee advocacy platform to include internal messaging, 43% more employees shared business content on their social media channels.
Implications of the new work from home paradigm
The Covid pandemic has changed work patterns in ways we don’t yet fully comprehend.
The massive, unscheduled work from home experiment disrupted traditional working practices as everyone rushed to put together a home office (and Zoom background). Now there is no chance encounter at the water cooler, nor opportunity to bounce a quick idea of someone as you pass by their desk.
A large portion of day-to-day internal business communication has been struck out of our everyday lives in a stroke, making it challenging to align internal and external communication.
So it’s advisable, now that work from home arrangements are more settled, that teams responsible for internal communication should implement new platforms to bring colleagues closer together.
So What’s The Main Takeaway of Internal and External Communication Alignment?
Internal and external communications are the Yin and Yang of your business; neither channel is entirely effective without working in tandem with its counterpart.
The teams in your organisation responsible for internal and external communication should work closely together so—as the saying goes—everyone’s on the same page.
Your employees will have a better understanding of what your organisation stands for, and if they like it, they’ll share it with their world.
Use Powerful Marketing Automation Software For Your Internal Communications
Do you need help with the creation and automation of your internal communications?
Here at Swift Digital, we can help get you started with our useful internal communications template.
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