matt- Scripps Interactive Internal Comms Bananatag

Scripps Networks Interactive has become the leader in lifestyle media in the home, food and travel categories. Delivering content across a host of media platforms, our brands - HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel, Great American Country, Asian Food Channel & TVN - connect with viewers to provide relevant ideas, information and solutions every day, everywhere.

 
Being part of a company with nearly 3,500 employees worldwide, internal communicator Matt Kothe and his team at Scripps Networks Interactive found themselves in a difficult position that many communicators can empathize with: engaging employees and bringing life to internal emails. "It can be difficult to get employees to engage with internal comms – they’re often busy or may not think they’ll get much from reading an email," says Matt.

The Scripps Networks Interactive Corporate Communications department had just begun a new and exciting adventure into video for internal comms, but they had to prove that a video-focused internal comms strategy would work.

The employee audience is a familiar one. Most Scripps Networks employees are desk-based and working on computers, but many are in client meetings, on production shoots and located in various time zones across the globe. Understanding how those distribution lists were consuming information was essential, yet there was an unknown element in their strategy that needed to be addressed.

Communicating in the Dark

Matt and his team use email as their primary internal communication channel, which leaves the platform to do much of the heavy lifting in their comms with little insight into how employees are engaging with the content. Matt sends a daily email to all office locations each morning with a rundown of important activities happening across the company.

"One of our goals was to experiment with video, because we realize that not everyone engages with words on a screen," says Matt. "We've been working hard to ramp that effort up, but the time it takes to produce a video makes it challenging."

“From time to time, we would hear ‘Well not many people read email -- nobody has enough time for that’.”

They were spending valuable hours and resources working on content for busy employees without actually knowing if people were engaging with it. "We would put a lot of time and effort into a new project or initiative, like a story about one of our popular home giveaways, and we didn’t have a real idea if our target audience was responding," says Matt.
 

Scripps Networks Interactive Headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee. Scripps Networks Interactive Headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee.

 
Without a concrete way to capture and track engagement, the team didn’t have a sufficient answer for how engaged employees really were with internal comms. "The main way we could tell if people were reading and connecting was if we got word-of-mouth feedback," Matt tells us. "From time to time we would hear, 'Well, not many people read the daily email – nobody has enough time for that.'"

 

The Scripps team always knew their work was useful and valuable to employees, but they lacked the necessary data to back that intuition up and prove their value.

The Decision Process

For Matt, the desire to get more insight about the impact of his team’s work was real, but he didn't fully appreciate how email tracking could impact their internal comms strategy in a meaningful way and didn’t have prior experience with the technology.

"Admittedly, when I first heard about Bananatag and tracking emails, I wasn’t sure it would be something we needed," says Matt. "But we had a huge need to prove that our new video strategy was gaining traction, and after learning about Bananatag, it was clear this tool was the way to go. Employees watch our videos by clicking links in an email, so it was a great solution."

Setting up Bananatag

Once Matt and his team understood the need for email measurement in their internal communications strategy, they took Bananatag for a test run with their daily emails.

"It was so easy that just about anyone can do it."

The process of adoption to testing was lightning fast. "I think I expected it to be difficult, but it really was as easy as downloading the plugin and installing it," says Matt. The ease of use and learnability was a powerful factor in making their final decision. "It was easy enough that just about anyone could do it."

Putting Internal Email Measurement to the Test

The primary goal of Bananatag for the Scripps Networks Interactive team was to prove their video strategy was a worthwhile internal communications endeavor.

The internal email platform wasn’t a new one for the Scripps internal comms team – employees were already used to receiving emails from the internal account, and email as a channel was very well established.

But the inclusion of internal video was a bit tricky and required employees (and management) to buy into the efforts. "This is a big part of what Bananatag has helped us to do," says Matt. "It's been a longer process, but now we can go back to our partners and say 'this is the right communications platform for what we're doing because we have the numbers to back it up.'"

"Having the numbers to back up these new techniques and strategies proves that video is a worthwhile and valuable pursuit."

Matt and his team found success in the amount of videos they're sending employees each week. "We tried releasing two videos in one day a couple of times, just to test the waters," says Matt. "But we noticed that the first video always got a lot more hits than the second."

That's when Matt was able to experiment, playing around with different distribution times to get optimal viewing results. "We spaced the videos out a bit more, sending one on Monday and another on Thursday," Matt tells us. It's an understanding of their communications that wouldn't have been possible without the data from Bananatag.

"Having the numbers to back up these new techniques and strategies proves that video is a worthwhile and valuable pursuit. This data shows that we're not wasting effort making time-consuming videos that nobody watches," says Matt.

Communicating with Bananatag

Not only did Matt and his team get the feedback they were hoping for from employees, they were able to continue working on new videos. "Now that we have real numbers for our internal emails and we can prove that email works, it helps us do our jobs."

"I can’t imagine using internal email without a measurement tool."

At Scripps Networks Interactive, email measurement is now a staple tool for Matt and the rest of the internal communications team, providing insight into their strategies and giving them the power to try new approaches to engage their employee population. "We’ve been using Bananatag for over a year now, and I can’t imagine using an internal email platform without a measurement tool," says Matt.

"It’s helped us to try new things and demonstrate to our partners, in a concrete way, that we know the best way to get their message out to the company." That’s a worthy goal that any internal communicator can get behind.