Does this feel like the reaction employees might have to your internal content?

bored employees-bananatag

Inspiring action is really hard. A big part of employee communications besides informing is to get your audience to take an action.

Those actions may be:

  • Reading an article
  • Signing up for an event
  • Filling out a form
  • Completing a survey

To get the action completed you may design an email, a web page or a poster. How do you evaluate if your design is effective and how do you critique a design that isn’t performing as well as you may like?

Well it’s time to steal from the Marketer’s playbook again and look at a nifty concept called the LIFT Model created by Chris Goward of WiderFunnel. He breaks down the ‘why’ behind how to get your audience to convert (ie. take the actions you want them to complete).

The LIFT Model consists of six conversion factors that influence your audience to complete an action -- it uses a airplane analogy to make it simple for us to understand and remember.

WF_LIFT_Model_2015_v3_RGB The LIFT Model. Image via


The value proposition is the main vehicle that will cause your employees to act and is the most important of the six factors. So it’s the design of the plane itself. But to create real lift and make this plane take off, you’re going to be aided and hampered by five additional factors: Relevance, Clarity, Urgency, Distraction and Anxiety.

Relevance and clarity increase “lift” and distraction and anxiety are going to decrease it. The added factor of urgency will get this plane moving fast. We’ll go over each factor in more detail along with examples for Internal Comms.

Value Propositions

Value propositions are often vaguely defined as “a promise of the value you can deliver.” For marketers, this means communicating the value of the product or service you have to offer. From an employee communications perspective, this means communicating the value your employees will get from whatever it is you want them to do. In other words: what’s in it for them?

When creating a value proposition it’s important to look at motivation from the employee's point of view. Goward explains this part of the model using a simple formula:

Motivation = Perceived Benefits - Perceived Costs

Related: This concept is similar to the BJ Fogg model we discuss as part of how to create triggers and actions using the hook model

The stronger your value proposition, the more likely you are to cause action. These can be tough to get right so we try to write at least five variations of these statements before choosing a winner.

Examples of strong value propositions for internal comms content:

  • Last day to sign up for health benefits
  • Take this survey for your chance to eat at the cafeteria free for a year
  • Submit a story of a co-worker to be featured in employee story of the month>
  • Important changes to building access: What you need to know



Is your content relevant to your audience? Is it written in language that they will understand? Does it match their needs and wants?

Ways to increase relevance in IC:

  • Conduct focus groups to better understand your internal audiences
  • Write for every generation of employee
  • Segment your audience and send more targeted messages



How easy is it to understand your value proposition in your internal content? This is where you want to watch out for meaningless buzzwords, bloated copy and poor design choices. This can be difficult to get right and to diagnose yourself no matter how well you know your audience since it’s incredibly hard to look at something you’ve created with fresh eyes. Good news is that you can easily test for clarity with a 5-second test.

Ways you can increase clarity of your employee communications:

  • Distill your words
  • Avoid corporate jargon
  • Follow best design principles
  • Test with the 5-second test



To understand urgency, we can look at a few marketing tactics you’re likely familiar with. Expedia and other travel sites make great use of this technique in the purchase process by displaying how many seats are remaining on a flight or how many other people are viewing the same hotel. It’s also a favorite tactic of conferences which use early bird discounts to create a sense of urgency when the event is still far in the future. Think of ways you can apply this to your employee communications to get more of your employees completing actions faster.

Examples of adding urgency:

  • Register before X date
  • First 100 receive a free X
  • Limited spots available



What elements are pulling attention away from your value proposition or ultimate goal? These could be both visual cues or competing copy. The more options you give a reader the less lift you’ll get, so try to limit your calls to action and consider the impact of cognitive load.

Ways you can decrease distraction:

  • Focus on delivering one consistent message
  • Maintain relevance between the subject line, preheader, and headline/main message
  • Use a single-purpose alert email template



Do you have your employees’ trust? Trust is crucial to getting employees to predictably complete an action. Be clear on what the consequences of completing each action will be and remove any potential fears or doubts. In practice, this means putting yourself in the employees’ shoes and being particularly critical of any sources of potential anxiety.

Ways you can decrease anxiety in internal comms:

  • Send from a trusted source
  • Build your reputation
  • Ensure all forms requesting personal information look legit


Applying the LIFT Model to your internal content

Think of a successful content piece and compare it against one that failed or wasn’t quite as successful. Run each of them through the LIFT Model and try to identify how the success or failure of each can be explained by the six factors.

What was the value proposition to employees for each? And how was it phrased to ensure the messaging is timely, clear and relevant (without distraction or anxiety)?

I’d love to hear your comments or questions, and if you’re interested to learn more about conversion tactics and the LIFT Model check out Chris Goward’s blog here.