With the rise of disruptive business communication tools and the continuous emergence of new social media platforms, the biggest debate within the business communication world has been regarding the possible death of email. Is email dead?
We asked Filza Naveed from ContactMonkey, who is an expert in internal comms to investigate this case and she wrote the following article:
To find the answer to this burning question, ContactMonkey, an email tracking tool for internal communications professionals, hosted an online Twitter chat recently in partnership with the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). The chat asked business communicators from all over the world to discuss whether they thought email was dead. The resounding answer seemed to be a big NO.
Most business communicators strongly felt that despite new disruptive modes of communications, such as Slack channels and social media platforms, email was alive and well. Most business communicators still feel it’s one of the best ways to engage with their audience.
This isn’t surprising at all as the stats support this argument.
According to a Lifewire article, 3.8 billion people will be using email by the end of 2018, which is almost 100 million more than the previous year. This means more than half of the entire world uses email at the moment! The number of email accounts is also expected to rise and many predict the number will reach 7.71 billion by 2021! Now, that’s a staggering statistic!
The research also points towards the fact that contrary to popular public perception, millennials also appear to find email as their primary mode of communication. Research conducted by Small Business Trends reports that email continues to be a top marketing channel, with 89% of millennial customers choosing email as their primary communication channel over other modes of business communication.
Because email is still dominating the digital marketing world, it means that it needs to be given some serious consideration. Email is not just a medium through which marketers can reach customers but also an important channel for business communicators as well as internal communications professionals.
Although email marketers are largely well-versed in the importance of email and how to reach their target audience, many business communicators are still lagging behind when it comes to delivering engaging emails to their prospects, clients, employees or customers.
Whether you’re an email marketer, an internal communications professional or a business communicator, once you’re able to craft well-designed and compelling email, you can effectively change the entire way you communicate within your business, leading to better business outcomes and higher ROI.
Here are 3 ways you can start improving the way you communicate via email within your business communication.
1. Personalization and Segmentation
If you’re an email marketer, you’re already well-aware of the importance of personalization and segmentation to engage your target audience. According to research conducted by Campaign Monitor, segmenting email contacts into various groups according to age, gender and location, can lead to a 760% increase in revenue from segmented campaigns. They further report that marketers rely the most on email marketing to create a personalized experience for their audience as opposed to other channels.
This trend of personalization and segmentation is no longer restricted to the realm of email marketers. In fact, business communicators, especially internal communicators, are also embracing the trend of personalization and segmentation to deliver better experiences to their target audiences and boost employee engagement within their companies!
According to “The State of Internal Communication 2018” report by Ragan, a total of 83% of communicators surveyed think it is extremely important to personalize content to effectively reach employees yet only 40% of communicators do so. Among those who are looking to personalize content like email marketers do, email remains the top channel used.
So, how can you, as an internal comms professional or business communicator, customize your content to meet each individual’s needs?
The first way you can do so is by customizing your audience lists by ensuring that you’re using distribution lists to send emails. If you’re an internal communications professional sending emails to employees, you’re often dealing with employees from all over the world. Make sure to segment each distribution list according to country, region, cultural traits, etc. This way, you’ll be able to tailor and deliver content to employees that they actually care about.
Personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14%. On top of that, research across all industries indicates that subject lines that are personalized are 29.3% more likely to be opened.
Personalization in an old trick in most Email Service Providers' feature list. But what if you have to send emails without the help of a software like this?
Luckily for you, with ContactMonkey, you can not only send mass emails to different distribution lists, you can easily personalize the subject line and body of your email as well as import responsive HTML email templates, such as those offered by Chamaileon.
If you’re a business communicator who hasn’t yet embraced this new trend, it’s time to say goodbye to generic messages! In a time where you can customize everything, from your coffee cup to your running shoes, you need to ensure you’re also customizing the way you approach your clients, prospects and employees through email personalization and segmentation.
2. The Importance of Email Responsiveness
Whether you’re a marketer, a business communicator or an internal communications professional, if you’re sending email newsletters to your target audience, you can’t do so without ensuring your newsletters are mobile responsive.
This is because on average, people look at their phone 150 times a day and spend 4.7 hours on their mobile devices daily. According to Staffbase’s research, 98% of millennials use smartphones and by 2025, 75% of the workforce will consist of millennials. According to a Litmus report, in June 2018, mobile opens accounted for 46% of all email opens and the report speculates that this number may, in fact, be even higher than the research suggests.
In other words, if you’re not ensuring your newsletters are responsive, you’re losing a huge chunk of business revenue.
The above stats need to be considered just as seriously by business communicators. According to Ragan’s internal comms report mentioned above, mobile remains a high priority for communications professionals, with more than 51% of communicators seeking to push content through mobile devices in the future.
So, how can you, as a marketer or business communicator, ensure your email newsletters are responsive? Well, for starters, you can use a responsive email template builder, such as Chamaileon, where you can access and utilize hundreds of free email templates from their website or design your own building blocks if you wish. And if despite using a responsive email template, Outlook is causing rendering issues, you can use ContactMonkey to avoid Outlook email import problems.
Whatever you do, you need to ensure your emails are responsive before you hit send! This is crucial if you're serious about maintaining audience engagement and boosting employee engagement as an internal communicator.
3. Analyzing Email Metrics
If you’re an email marketer, you may be well aware of which metrics you need to track and analyze in order to gauge the success of your email marketing endeavors.
(Image Source: MailUp)
The above visual shows some of the most significant email metrics marketers need to keep track of in order to analyze the success of their email campaigns.
For business communicators, email metrics can be harder to track and understanding what employees want is one of the main concerns of communicators today.
In our experience dealing with communication professionals, there are two wrong approaches to measuring internal email metrics, employee engagement, and the effectiveness of communications. The first wrong approach is to judge the success of your internal communications campaigns based on your intuition and the couple of emails you get back every time you send an employee newsletter or a public service announcement.
The second wrong approach is to measure opens and clicks to just update a spreadsheet without analyzing the data and understanding what the results really mean.
Although we constantly emphasize the importance of analyzing email metrics, collecting this data is a means to a very specific end: increase employee engagement, send better communications, and help the overall business performance of your organization.
If you’re a business communicator trying to make sense of your email data, let’s go over which metrics you need to be analyzing and why those are important.
Opens let you know whether people are being informed and in the know of important company announcements. From a high open rate, you can deduce that people received the information you wanted them to and that your subject lines are working.
If your open rates are low, you need to improve your subject lines, and test your email practices to see which specific subject lines and time of the day are better for sending internal emails.
2. Link Clicks:
By keeping an eye on link clicks you’ll be able to see whether your audience is truly engaged. A high click-through rate tells you that the content you’re sending out is relevant and/or entertaining to your audience and the biggest sign that your employee engagement is at a healthy level. A low click-through rate may indicate your links aren’t relevant to your audience OR what the subject line promised isn’t being delivered on in the body of your business emails. To get to the bottom of this you need to test, test, and test some more.
Modern tools for communicators, such as ContactMonkey’s Internal Comms Tool, allows you to see beyond opens and click-throughs by showing you where your internal emails are being opened from as well. This is incredibly helpful for big companies with branches in different cities or even different countries since it allows you to improve your internal emails personalization and targeting efforts. By tracking which content resonates the best in any given branch or location, you’ll be able to better segment your internal emails and increase engagement levels.
Mobile opens account for 46% of all email opens in recent years so meeting your audience where they are is extremely important. Understanding which device is most popular among your employees can teach you what type of email they like receiving.
Whether you’re an email marketer sending email newsletters to customers or an internal communications professional measuring employee engagement, you can’t afford to ignore email metrics in 2018!
4. Utilizing the Power of Storytelling within Your Emails
Stories are how humans have always communicated and come to understand the world. As marketers, you must be well aware of the power of authentic storytelling. We’ve written extensively on how your story needs a hero and how you can create a compelling narrative that draws the reader in whenever you’re marketing your product or service.
Storytelling is even more pertinent if you’re crafting an email newsletter for your customers or your employees. This is where you need to be able to grab the attention of your audience and get them to take a specific action.
Here’s an example of an email newsletter from Really Good Emails that draws heavily on the power of storytelling to entice their audience.
The design is simple, yet the reason it draws your attention is because of the story that the newsletter weaves. From the use of emojis in the copy to the narrative of flying weaved throughout its body paragraphs, this newsletter makes you want to travel and read on as to what’s coming next.
Storytelling has emerged as an important topic of discussion amongst business communicators as well. According to Kathy Caprino, Senior Contributor to Forbes, storytelling can improve business communication and transform workplaces. A good story should always aim to achieve one specific goal: forge a strong connection between you and your target audience.
Business communicators have learned the power of storytelling and understand that in order to do their jobs well, they need to establish a strong bond with their audience. This is especially true in times of disruption when an organization is going through structural changes. According to Master Communicator, Priya Bates, you need to tap into your inner storyteller to be able to craft the right narrative on why the disruption is taking place in order to communicate it effectively to the relevant stakeholders involved. This is crucial for the success and health of the organization.
In order to communicate better and lead to better business outcomes, communicators need to start thinking like marketers when it comes to utilizing email as a primary communication channel. There’s no doubt about the fact that email continues to grow in significance amongst business communicators, with 98% of communicators reporting that they use email as their main mode of business communication.
By focusing more on personalization and segmentation, understanding email metrics, ensuring email responsiveness and focusing on storytelling techniques, business communicators can change the entire way they communicate, resulting in higher ROI and happier, more productive employees!