Six Ways to Improve Employee Engagement with Email (Yes, Email)
By: Graham Ericksen, Chief Strategy Officer of Modus
Once upon a time, a company’s intranet was a place where HR and legal documents went to gather digital cobwebs. Not so today.
The modern intranet is the backbone of the digital workplace, an online destination where employees can go to collaborate, crowdsource ideas, engage and interact and find important information.
Companies that effectively use their intranets see strong boosts in employee productivity and employee satisfaction. (Innovative leaders like IBM, Oracle and Cisco report the ROI on their intranets to be greater than $1 billion.)
Yet despite these many benefits, not every company -- especially small or medium-sized businesses -- have the resources needed to do a full intranet overhaul.
If that’s the case for your company, then consider an often under-utilized tool that’s an effective, engagement-driving, low-tech version of a corporate intranet. This tool is familiar to every business. It’s called email.
Email? Isn’t that the thing that is adding noise to our employee engagement channels? On the contrary. It’s not about getting rid of email. It’s about getting the right email.
After all, your organization is already focused on the inbox. When done right, email can deliver info in a concise and relevant format that busy people will pay attention to.
Here are six strategies to make email a key building block of your own company’s internal communications and your employee engagement efforts.
1. Think like a marketer. Email gives you the power to reach every employee with your message. The key is formulating that message correctly. Start by thinking like a marketer. Keep your target audience (your company’s employees) in mind to create a cycle of content with positive company news, industry articles, profiles of executives, social interactions, as well as crucial communications that incentivize employee engagement and reflect your employer brand.
2. Make it a dialogue. Digital workplace strategies are too often a one-way communication. In fact, they should be rooted in an open, company-wide dialogue. To that end, people need to know how and when they can respond so they feel free to interact and engage. You might not want a “Reply All” type discussion to ensue, so provide direct, clear and easy avenues for people who want to continue the conversation.
3. Don’t overthink it. In addition to the usual alerts, reminders and newsletters, leading email platforms now offer behavioral targeting. These dynamically-generated emails offer triggered lifecycle communications and an ever-increasing level of personalization. There are a lot of great solutions out there. What’s important is that you start simple and work with an evolving plan as you learn what works for your company and your colleagues.
4. Accessibility is everything. One of the greatest things about email is that it goes where you go. Email is inherently mobile-friendly and great way to access information in micro-moments throughout the day. Make sure you maximize your email’s accessibility and mobility. Links that require registration or log-in or other kinds of barriers can hamper its effectiveness.
5. Measure and adapt. Implement an analytics program that allows you to iterate as you go. There are plenty of sources that provide insights to drive effective decision-making. Google Analytics, Intercom.io, Chartbeat, or any email service like MailChimp or Campaign Monitor can be leveraged to provide basic metrics that help you understand what is working and what isn’t.
Promote content that is popular and desired. Identify usability and/or knowledge gaps. Assess your insights into employee behavior. Personalize the employee experience. The main thing is that you optimize your communications.
6. Always evolve. People will quickly come to appreciate an email-based digital workplace solution. But that doesn’t mean you should simply stop innovating. Be on the lookout for ways to improve the process. Add features, new tools and additional means of interacting. Just be sure that changes come in the form of steady and continuous evolution, not sudden upheaval.
Ultimately, what’s key to better engagement is taking a targeted and strategic approach to building out your company’s digital workplace. This will ensure that it meets actual, real-world needs and not theoretic engineering objectives. Use the tools at your disposal to ensure communication is flowing consistently and reaching every member of your organization.
Graham Ericksen is a digital strategist and user experience expert with over 18 years of experience advising leading organizations on how to simplify their products and processes to make them more accessible, compelling, and profitable.
Prior to joining Modus, Graham was the Creative Director of Content and Information Architecture at Sullivan, where he developed award-winning work for Schwab, MetLife, Fidelity, Ameriprise, and Disney. He was also Director of Customer Experience at JP Morgan Chase, and Senior Information Architect and Writer at Siegel & Gale.
Graham writes and lectures extensively. He teaches a seminar entitled “Write Gooder” to students and communications professionals; his articles have appeared in many publications, including Booz Allen’s Strategy and Business.