A few months ago, we discussed an interesting idea: in your enterprise, you don’t have users—you have “internal customers.” In other words, rather than treating employees as users who must use your app, you should think of them as customers—people with different choices who should use your app because they want to.  

That idea has been kicking around a lot in our heads recently, so we thought we’d continue the conversation with another question: are you marketing your apps to your current employees?

We know what you’re thinking: it’s a company-built app for employees, so why should you have to do anything other than tell them they have to use it? We’ll flip the script with a different question: are you more likely to be an advocate for a product if you’re told you have to use it, or if it’s marketed to you and you get to select it and experience it on your own?

Though the idea of marketing your internal apps to employees may seem strange, chances are you’ve probably done some internal marketing already. The internal marketing process starts the minute you propose the idea of a mobility program to key executives and decision-makers. At that point, you’re trying your best to sell the idea that apps are a need—something that will make the business more productive.

The difference with what we’re talking about is that the marketing shouldn’t end there. After the app is built, you should treat your internal apps like any other product you would market. Identify your target audience. Pinpoint their needs. Pick your key messages. Distribute those messages over the channels that will help you reach your audience best. Do whatever you need to do to get employees to want to use your apps on their own, rather than handing down a decision and telling employees they must use your apps, or else.

So long as your “product”—your app—is solid and you have a clean method of distribution—an enterprise app store—this process will help build rapport with employees. It will take longer than issuing a decree, but the results will be worth it when you have a key group of employees willing to advocate on your and your apps’ behalf.

Internal marketing isn’t a new idea, but it isn’t often discussed in the context of mobile applications. Thinking about your apps like a product you have to market well can help build long-term success, rather than short-term engagement, within your enterprise mobility program.