Every January, technology experts issue their “Top Ten” annual predictions, and the “death of corporate email” is inevitably on that list. We’ve been told repeatedly, for well over a decade, that corporate email is on life support. More recently, this has been driven by the quest to engage millennials who reportedly don’t send or read emails. In anticipation, organizations have been exploring other communications channels such as instant messaging, mobile apps, social networking and many others.
Despite all this noise, don’t expect a funeral for the email inbox anytime soon. In fact, when it comes to employee communications, email is the preferred vehicle for an overwhelming majority of enterprises.
To gain a clearer understanding of which channels internal communicators find most valuable, we commissioned independent research firm Gill Research to poll global communications professionals. With 522 respondents from around the world, 95 percent said email is the preferred channel for high-priority internal communications. Further, 20 percent indicated they are using too many overall internal communications channels. When asked this same question in 2014, 43 percent gave the same answer. This suggests that survey respondents have cut back on the number of channels over the past two years.
With so many “next-generation” communication choices out there, why do internal communicators continue to count on email? Here are five reasons why email still reigns:
- Zero learning curve. When asked for their biggest challenge around measuring internal communications, 63 percent of respondents cited “lack of time and/or personnel” as the top barrier. Communication teams tend to be understaffed and tasked with doing more than ever. They lack the time to learn how to use completely new tools. They prefer solutions that integrate with the business applications they already use. And that means Outlook.
- Blessed by IT. 52 percent of respondents said that their IT departments are supportive of new internal communications measurement tools; however, 39 percent report IT as a “major roadblock” to new projects. Only 9 percent of respondents have IT professionals dedicated to assisting communications teams. The takeaway here is that proven tools designed specifically for the enterprise, with all its security and compliance mandates, have a better chance of gaining acceptance and post-implementation support from the IT organization. And email is one of those tools.
- Always on. With messaging apps and social networks, the recipient of your message must be logged in to see the information you sent – and even then, you can’t be sure they’ve read the content or acted on it. 40 percent of survey respondents said they do not use mobile apps or SMS text messaging for employee communications; 33 percent said they don’t find social networking tools effective. When you consider many of these apps and social networks send a push notifications via email to reengage recipients, why not simply send email in the first place?
- Deep data. The maturity of email as a tool in the enterprise means that communicators can use it to extract more advanced analytics that can calculate ROI on internal campaigns. The conversation can go well beyond, “Did they open my email?” Instead, communicators can ask more informative questions like, “How much content are we sending, and how much time are people willing to spend reading it?” Using measurement data will help communicators reduce email overload and improve effectiveness and engagement. However, communicators still have a long way to go: 51 percent of survey respondents admitted that they aren’t using any kind of measurement tools for internal email campaigns.
- Targeted broadcasts. Distribution groups inherent to email help ensure the right employees are seeing the right message at the right time. With behavioral targeting, communicators can eliminate unnecessary messages and increase employee engagement through the process of audience segmentation. This is an approach that many external marketers use with great results – but in this case, the audience is your workforce. Unfortunately, only 26 percent said their distribution lists were “accurate and current.”
The ability to provide measurement around internal communications is a top priority, but communication professionals are facing increased pressure due to understaffing, underfunding and lack of reliable tools. To improve the performance of internal campaigns, prevent miscommunication and elevate employee engagement, corporate communicators can successfully ride the email workhorse, well into the future.