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Is there hope for internal e-mail?

Infographic The Benchmark of Successful Internal Email Campaigns featOver 15 years ago, I was sending out all employee e-mail blasts using Outlook. It’s now 2016 and guess what application I’m using to send out e-mail blasts? That’s right. Outlook.

Very few companies have the ability to invest in an enterprise-wide communications system that allows for targeted messaging and also analytics. In my career, I’ve only worked for one such company and it was a “home-grown” (but effective) system. And, as a result, one of the longest suffering issues any internal communications organization faces is the ability to measure the effectiveness of its e-mail campaigns.

In this world of modern communication, it’s ironic that we haven’t been able to figure out how to communicate to employees via e-mail in modern ways. A lot of people would argue that e-mail is archaic given the social technologies we can now build into our corporate intranets. But, unfortunately, not everyone has achieved that level of sophistication in their intranets. But most importantly, I challenge you to find me a channel survey where employees say their preferred method of communication isn’t through e-mail. Why is this? Well, a few reasons:

  1. Social intranets are becoming much more common in corporate culture; however, they are still seen as collaboration tools, not as resources for important information.
  2. Employees prefer to have important information related to their benefits, pay or other total rewards pushed to them because it immediately prioritizes the importance of the communication.
  3. Not everyone has immediate access to the corporate firewall at all times. If you have call center employees or frontline field agents, they read e-mail through their phone.

As internal communicators, we’re challenged to build effective communications campaigns oftentimes using archaic systems:

  • We need to be able to target our communications without using a jazzy e-mail marketing system, so we’re left creating manual distribution lists in Outlook.
  • We need to conduct simple surveys (or two-minute surveys) to solicit employee feedback without using an internal survey system, so we’re creating internal surveys using external survey tools like SurveyMonkey.
  • We need to create HTML or graphically rich e-mails without the use of an HTML-based system, so we’re stuck laying out e-mail in Microsoft Word and copying and pasting it into Outlook.

So in the midst of this, how can we possibly measure the effectiveness of our e-mail campaigns? To approach them with the e-mail marketing lens we would use with our prospective and current customers? To answer simple questions such as what day of the week would produce the highest open rates, or what are the open and click-through rates?

One of my favorite internal communications companies, Newsweaver, recently published an infographic that outlines benchmarking data for your e-mail campaigns. Their infographic kind of makes you think there is hope for internal e-mail communications afterall.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to get analytics out of your internal e-mails, then this infographic will be a great resource to compare your internal data against these external benchmarks. For the rest of us, well… we’ll keep using Outlook.

Newsweaver EmailBenchmark Infographic 2016

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