Best Practice

The Case for Email Communication Strategy

When Poppulo contacted me about delivering a program on Email Strategy, I originally questioned my involvement.

Wasn’t focusing on email – a tool and tactic – too basic for someone who considers herself a strategist? Would my global internal communication colleagues question me for touting an old tool versus the plethora of new technologies available to internal communication professionals?

Did I have something to say that would add value to this discussion for those who managed internal communication in their organizations? 

And then it dawned on me…

Email is such a pain-point for so many organizations. In my research delivering internal communication audits for clients, a consistent theme continues to emerge. Employees have a love/hate relationship with email.

They see it as a tool that causes great distraction while at the same time, acknowledge it is the way they prefer to receive information from their organizations. It is direct, searchable, pushed, archivable, and time-stamped. 

Although many suffer from email overload, their issues are not with the tool itself but with how the tool is used by their organizations and their peers.

In fact, I recently had a large corporation in Canada hire me to provide email best-practice training for their non-communication-trained workforce proving again that it’s not the WHAT but rather the HOW. 

Email usage is growing

The white-paper research conducted on email itself was enlightening. Email usage is growing. Even with social and mobile technologies being launched, email remains necessary as an authentication point for everything we do. In fact, according to the Radicati Group, the number of email addresses is outpacing the number of email users globally, with the average user having two email addresses.

I personally have three – one for business, one for personal use and another for commercial use that I provide for loyalty and marketing programs.

Get email right first 

Getting email right is a quick win opportunity for communication professionals that requires low relative resources for big personal gain. I have not talked to one client who believes they use email effectively.

Employees and leaders talk about noise and being overwhelmed by volume, the majority of which they believe is irrelevant or redundant. Imagine the time that we spend individually and collectively sorting through unnecessary email communication. This is not just about email, it’s about operational efficiency and effectiveness. 

By using Poppulo to consolidate, collaborate, target and analyze, communication professionals can lead an email strategy that drives operational efficiency in a way that is visible to the entire organization. It’s a key opportunity to demonstrate your ability to influence 

 Why fix email when there are mobile tools available? 

The organizational practices we create getting email right, will serve us well when we’re ready to invest in costly advanced and enhanced technologies.

The truth is that organizations that struggle to invest basic funding for dedicated internal communication resources are not likely to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for sophisticated solutions with all the bells and whistles. 

Starting with email supported by Poppulo builds some basic cross-functional habits, including:

Database accuracy – Is your organization’s database accurate and updated regularly. You can’t deliver targeted messages without having this foundation built. How is it maintained as employees enter, leave and move? How do you identify stakeholder fields like location, country, department, and role that will lend themselves nicely to targeting information based on employee needs? 

Content Relevance – Are we willing to say, “No,” to the content that doesn’t matter? In order to build trust, we need to ensure that everything we communicate matters to the person receiving it; otherwise, we risk teaching people to ignore us. 

Collaboration – Are we the gatekeeper or enabler of communication success? How do you use the opportunity to consolidate to drive a different conversation and create relationships across the business? Bringing subject matter experts to the table will enhance all of your communication programs. As you build trust, it will be easier to hand permissions to send to others in the organization trained on consistent guidelines. 

Measurement and Accountability – You can’t truly understand what you don’t measure. Taking the time to understand analytics like open rates, click-throughs, and readership stats, communication professionals have the opportunity to make informed decisions and recommendations. Having the data to back up conversations with business leaders sets the stage for purposeful improvement. 

The internal communication evolution

At Inner Strength, we often talk about our i5 framework. When it comes to email, our simple delivery and writing of messages are the first steps to implement. When we interact, we understand our stakeholder needs to ensure the right messages get to the right audience at the right time.

We integrate when we foster collaboration and coordination to reduce noise. Our influence is show-cased when we create consistency in practice. And we create impact when we use analytics to recommend improvements and reduce noise to increase efficiency. 

It’s true that email has been around for close to 50 years, but tools like Poppulo provide innovation and enhancements that can make this central tool and your organization more effective.

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