How it all started
Lisa Yeaton, Communications Manager at Extreme Networks, remembers that just 5 years ago, a company update may have received a 20-30% open and engagement rate – “we’ve seen an extreme increase with our platform, E360. Engagement rates and open rates are upwards of 80% now. Our employees are more engaged because they are seeing the right information and they are more effective because they have the tools that they need” says Lisa.
They knew they needed to modernize their approach to employee communications beyond their traditional intranet and employee newsletters, so they turned to Firstup. The Firstup platform has become “part of [their] DNA”, and has completely changed the way they communicate. They’ve even been able to correlate their highest-performing sales reps with the employees who are most engaged with content on their E360 branded platform.
“I think [Orchestrate] is definitely going to be a game-changer for us…not just for us as communicators, but for our employees, and how they prefer to see their communications. If we can meet our employees where they’re at, so they can do what they need to do that day, I think that’s our ultimate goal”— Jasmine Davis,
Internal Communications Manager at Extreme Networks
Impressions of the new Firstup Studio
With continued success on E360, it’s no surprise that the Extreme Networks team jumped at the chance to have early access to the redesigned Firstup Studio. We sat down with Internal Communications Manager Jasmine Davis to see why she and her team are so excited about the new publishing experience and what this unlocks for their employees, including:
- Centralized Publishing. The ability to create one post and send to any channel that employees consume content on, including newsletter content fed directly to a user’s mobile feed
- Drag and Drop Design Templates. The ease of using branded colors and templates to create more eye-catching and dynamic posts for mobile, email, intranet, and more
- Precise Targeting. Faster targeting, including the ability to create a temporary audience on top of an existing group for pinpoint messaging
- Orchestrated Delivery. Orchestration of employee data to tune what time and channel best suit each employee to deliver the optimal digital employee experience
With Firstup Studio, we took the best of marketing automation, content creation, and analytics software and put it into one platform with an intuitive workflow that allows you to do more, faster than ever:
- Centralized publishing for EVERY channel
- Orchestrated delivery with proactive insights
- Audience hyper-targeting
- High-impact, drag-and-drop designs and automated campaign templates
- The deep analytics and insights you know and love
As a reminder, we will be rolling out Firstup Studio as an opt-in experience to our current customers. We look forward to your questions and the new experiences you’ll create.
About Extreme Networks
Extreme Networks is a billion-dollar networking service and solutions company based in San Jose, California. Extreme Networks designs, develops, and manufactures wired and wireless network infrastructure equipment and develops the software for network management, policy, analytics, security, and access controls. Extreme Networks has over 3800 employees around the globe.
Read the full interview:
Thanks for chatting with us today, Jasmine! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Extreme Networks?
Hi, I’m Jasmine Davis with Extreme Networks and I serve as the internal communications manager. My role here at Extreme is the internal communications manager and I report under our corporate comms team. My job is basically to ensure that our 3000 plus global employees are informed of all the latest and greatest happenings from around the company and to mainly ensure that all employees are engaged, promoting advocacy and ensuring everyone knows about our great company culture. I achieve this by partnering with members of our executive team and various departments from around our company using our internal program, E360, with Firstup running in the background to power that.
And you joined Extreme Networks during an acquisition, correct? I believe your Firstup platform was already in place when you joined. So what were your first impressions of the technology coming in and what role did it play during that merger and acquisition?
Absolutely. It played a huge role actually on my very first day with joining Extreme Networks, I was introduced to the platform. This was when we were in the office pre COVID, of course. There were banners all around the offices about how E360 was the one-stop shop for all company comms. It was my job was to make sure that hitting the ground running all our global employees understood what was going on with the acquisition. When I saw the platform, my first impressions were, wow, I’ve never seen so much focus on employee communications before. I’ve just never been so involved in a company that cared so much about making sure that their employees were informed.
It seems like you and your team were really utilizing the technology to its fullest then, but the M&A was a few years ago. How is your organization running today with communications, what’s changed, and how has your 360 platform helped to shape that strategy?
Everything has been scaled out since then, strategy-wise. That’s what’s so great about the Firstup platform is when our company is growing, the platform grows as well, so we haven’t hit any growing pains. In terms of how we’ve been using the platform more recently, we’ve found that our executives really love video, and so do our employees, so making sure that the exec team shows up on camera often to ensure our global teams know exactly what’s going on in each of their worlds.
For instance, our CEO loves getting on camera to give a quick update or our chief financial officer might give a financial update. So, there’s a lot that we do with video and dynamic content. We’ve definitely been leveraging more mobile push notifications, email pushes, dedicated channels to different departments, and working with teams to make sure that that content is always updated.
We know videos provide a lot of engagement, so it’s great to hear you’ve had such success in that area. This year alone has been just a whirlwind for every organization. What new, big initiatives have you been facing this year?
When the world literally stopped, and COVID was taking over, it was really, really important to make sure that our global employees knew exactly where we stood in terms of making sure, number one, our employees were safe and well, but also letting them know how we will be moving forward with either office being closed down, keeping an eye out on local governments and what they were suggesting, etc. So we built up our internal intranet site, called The Source, which is SharePoint but uses the Firstup platform as a launch tool, so if any communications go out, it’s created in E360 and sent to these different channels. It’s our E360 first mindset.
One thing that really helped us out during this time was the audience segmentation piece because different portions around the world, in terms of our offices, were closing down at different times. So for example, if we needed to reach our India office, all we had to do was go in, type in a location, and we were able to target that specific audience and target even further from there. We were just able to segment out when we needed it immediately, so it was beneficial.
We always made sure that our employees knew where we stood when it came to our COVID-19 response. As a matter of fact, we were nominated for the Ragan award for our COVID response.
Congratulations on the nomination! As much success as you’ve had on your current Firstup Studio, what were your first impressions getting early access to the new Firstup Studio?
Yeah, absolutely. I really like the fact that you can really curate your posts to your brand colors. I know that that was always an ask, especially from our creative team, so we’re excited that you can add all of these different elements to make your posts really stand out. For example, if you want a picture on top or at the bottom, drag and drop it into place. Or if you want to pull in content from around the platform, it’s just making our posting more dynamic and it’s very eye-catching to our employees, so that gets me really excited.
How about the new targeting abilities?
Definitely. Targeting is something we rely on heavily at Extreme. We have our dedicated channels, but sometimes we really need to skinny down the targeting. So, the ability to do temporary targeting is really cool. For example, if we need to get out communications to a specific department at Extreme, and we maybe just want our VPs to be a part of that email, we can just tag them onto that specific comms on the fly.
That’s great to hear, I’m sure targeting groups can be intimidating when you have such a large workforce, glad to hear it’s been a quick process for your teams. One of the biggest changes with the new Firstup Studio is that newsletter creation has been moved into the all-in-one publisher. Can you describe your experience testing this out?
I think might be my favorite piece of the new Studio. We do a lot of newsletters. We do this thing we call content packaging where, for example, we have a partnership with the MLB and we were announcing that information to our employees and we would give them all of the information they need in one newsletter. Like a round-up of sorts. It may be, hey, check out our new PowerPoint templates, new email signatures, new zoom backgrounds, messaging, etc.
So we would take all these pieces and we would put them into a newsletter and of course, send it out to all of our employees. But now with the Firstup Studio, it’s going to be so much faster because you’ll be able to easily select all of that content already posted and also add it to our web and mobile channels. So now it’s not one and done in terms of people just getting the email, but instead, we can send that content out to a few different places. And that means more eyes on the content that we create, just in case people missed it, or if people want to catch it again. I’m really excited about this one.
That’s great. And how do you see this new studio publisher having an impact on others in your organization who maybe aren’t as frequent of publishers or as comfortable in using the platform as your team is?
Yeah, absolutely. I can definitely see this being used across our company, especially in our HR department. Around benefits season, we try to get ahead of the chaos and see how we can assist with comms. But I think with templates and the different design settings, I could see those folks posting themselves. I know the targeting will be beneficial for other teams as well, instead of them having to rely on their dedicated distribution lists from Outlook. It could help them skinny down the targeting for different locations and employee groups.
Lastly here, I want to jump into this concept of our Orchestration Engine. As you know, Orchestrate really aims to help remove some of the guesswork of communications, to reach our employees where they are, when they want to be reached, helping to send notifications with confidence, precision, and also helping to actually provide some upfront predictive data to guide you in ensuring that you are sending as the most optimal time and place. This can be a change in the way we’re used to sending communications. What were your first impressions of Orchestrate? Do you think that this will change the way you and your team do day-to-day strategy work?
I think it’s going to help a lot with our strategy. Sometimes we’ll actually send separate communications to match the time zone for our global employees. So we may send a batch to America’s employees versus international, but now with the new orchestrate that will be taken care of for us, which is really nice. So we don’t have to do a lot of location/timing-based guesswork.
But I will say this, I really like the fact that orchestrate it’s taking the data from our employees and what best suits them in terms of how they receive the content. For instance, I like the fact that if an employee prefers to open a mobile push notification, that’s where the content is sent versus if an employee prefers emails. I think that’s definitely going to be a game-changer for us. And I mean, it’s not just about us in terms of making our lives easier as a communications team, but it’s more about our employees and how they prefer to receive their communications as well.
Well, I think you just answered my last question, which was, boiling down all of these features of the new Studio – the flexible targeting, the new design abilities, the orchestrated delivery – How do you see this impacting the bottom line for your employees and your organization overall?
If we can meet our employees where they’re at so they can do what they need to do every day, I think that’s what our ultimate goal is. We give them the news, enable them to stay engaged on their own time when they can, that’s what’s important to us. We never want to be a bother. We just want to be here to help them stay engaged, advocate, and work on.
Well said. Thank you again for sitting down with us today, Jasmine. We’re really excited for this to roll out to all of our customers and we appreciate you and your team, and all of our Beta customers, for hopping into the early access and testing all of these new features and workflow.
Of course, we’re excited! Thank you so much.