FACT: Internal email engagement data can give you a wealth of insight into your communications, including how you can make simple changes to improve your emails.
In our last post, we dove into the task of choosing an email measurement tool for internal communicators. Whether you use Bananatag, MailChimp or any other email measurement tool, this will be helpful when reading and understanding your email engagement data.
But understanding what's going on with your emails can be tough. With Bananatag, getting the metrics and actionable data is the easy part. Once you've sent your first tracked email, how do you use your new-found data to improve employee engagement in your organization?
The numbers may seem intimidating but translating that data into better internal email content is a lot easier than it looks.
Your internal email engagement data is trying to tell you something -- are you really listening?
Symptom: Open Rates are Low
Low open rates are perhaps the bane of any internal communicator's job -- important emails that aren't getting opened, scanned, read and worst of all, recipients sending internal emails right to the trash bin.
There are a few reasons why this might be happening with your internal emails. It's all about understanding what the numbers are saying, testing changes, and implementing the right action.
Over time, this data will help you understand the most effective changes.
Possible Cause: Bad subject lines
Ever send an email with a subject line like "Company Update #87: Implementing new adjustments to protocol"? Chances are the recipients of this email don't know what that subject line really means, nor are they inclined to open a message that's full of jargon.
In all fairness to even the perpetually disengaged employees, this email looks boring (and confusing) right off the bat.
Solution: Watch character count & change it up
Think of the subject line as a place to make your otherwise dull company update interesting and relevant for busy employees. Consider limiting your email subject lines to 50 characters; you might notice your opens increase. You can still pack power in just a few words.
Avoid bad subject lines that are:
- Not descriptive enough for recipients: December Newsletter
- Unclear in the messaging: Process for Implementing Security Changes at [company]
- Always the same: Weekly Updates or Weekly Newsletter
Being cautious of your organizations's tone and audience, you can still alter the voice of your subject lines while remaining professional. If your organization is as corporate as it can be, change the pattern and format of your typical subject lines. Make every similar email different, with a different subject line. Make sense?
If you send company updates every month, scrap the subject line that simply says "Company Updates". Instead make the subject line relate back to an interesting tidbit in the email body. This ensures that employees don't quickly tire of the same old emails.
If your organization allows it, try a subject line that's a little more fun rather than formal -- it might get your message across better than before! And heavy formal language never benefits your messaging; conversational, easy to digest language is always better understood.
Feeling uninspired? Here are a couple examples of subject lines you can model for your next internal email:
- For your weekly or monthly company update email, move the company update bit into the preview. Start the subject line off with "Do you think that..." and insert an interesting tidbit that is still relevant for employees.
- A big organizational change is happening in your company. Now is the time to be direct, concise and informative in your communications. Consider trying something like "Lots of new faces...here's what's going on". This subject line gets straight to the point and doesn't mess around with overly formal language. Employees get a sense that they will get all the information from this email. Try sending it from your CEO's address -- a message like this may also be better suited being delivered by the head of your organization.
Possible Cause: Sending too many emails
As much as you might want to send that fifth internal email of the day, it might be why your open rates are so low. Sending too many emails sometimes feels like the boy who cried wolf: uninteresting emails are sent so often that the most important ones aren't taken seriously and remain unread. Employees will simply start ignoring emails if they receive too many -- bad news for any internal communicator.
Solution: Quality over quantity
Email measurement data lets internal communicators compare email types and ditch the low performing templates. Take this knowledge and start limiting the number of emails you send in a day. Based on the data, focus on crafting better emails you know employees are reading.
Perhaps your weekly updates are better as a monthly update. That simple change might make employees finally open emails they were once ignoring. Although it's easy to break this rule, you want to avoid information (or communication) overload. Your internal email is about quality and sending the right message at the right time with the help of email engagement data.
Possible Cause: Uninteresting email address
You've got mail! And it's from... firstname.lastname@example.org, which is perhaps the least exciting email sender. We've all received the classic internal email that practically screams "don't open this". The email address a recipient sees in their inbox is just as important as any subject line. It stands as an indicator of a few things: who is sending the email, does the recipient really want to read it. and is it relevant or interesting.
Using a typical internal email address to send company emails, although convenient, just might be why your data is telling you open rates are low.
Solution: Send from a different address
Try sending out a couple emails from your CEO's address, or another recognizable name higher up in your organization.
Employees want to feel connected to their CEO and management; if they find an email from them in their inbox, they're more likely to open and read an email from a familiar name.
Possible Cause: Dull snippet of email body
An uninteresting internal email snippet is a surefire way your email never gets opened. The snippet is quite literally the preview of the email, which instantly gives employees a better idea of the content inside and whether or not they care.
Your email snippet count varies from devices and also varies depending on the recipients' email client. Often times, your most important message may get cut off in the snippet.
Solution: Character count, call to action
Generally, the range of characters is from 30-140 so try to limit yourself to that. Good to know: LotusNotes, on the other hand, doesn't provide email snippets. For internal communicators committed to this email client, it's all the more reason to ensure your subject lines and email addresses are open-worthy.
To optimize your email snippets, there are a few things you can test out. First, be honest. Employees should know what to expect when they're opening your email -- although that doesn't mean you should be boring either.
If the subject line is a call to action, the email snippet should get right into your main messages so recipients know what to expect. Giving the gist of the message right away ensures your email has been understood, instantly.
Symptom: Open Rates are Good, But Clicks are Low
Congratulations! You have an excellent open rate, which is a step in the right direction for your internal emails. But when taking a closer look at the data with your email measurement tool, you might notice your link clicks are depressingly low.
No reason to fret, understanding the data means there are ways you can better engage your audience.
Possible Cause: Messages aren't optimized for mobile devices
We watch movies on our iPhones, podcasts on our androids, and constantly email on our smartphone devices.
It should come as no surprise to internal communicators that employees are using their mobile devices to access content more than ever before -- all the more reason to adjust internal emails to the trend!
This means it's possible that your internal emails are not easily viewable, clickable, and properly optimized for smaller screens on the go.
Solution: Send test emails
To address this usability issue, send test emails to yourself and to another internal communicator on your team who might have a different device. Check if the pages are properly opening on your mobile devices or if they're a little too difficult to read.
Perhaps the webpage you're linking to is not optimized for a mobile device -- if you're having trouble with this, check with your IT department for some extra help.
Possible Cause: Link descriptions aren't descriptive enough
Link descriptions instantly inform your recipients of what they're about to open, therefore it's crucial that your descriptions are spot on and clear. Something like "click here" simply doesn't do the trick when you have employees quickly scanning their emails.
Solution: Be extra clear
Instead, make sure your links are descriptive and interesting. If you're emailing about a new service your company is offering, make the entire link a short sentence like "test out the new prototype now". When emailing busy and disengaged employees, extra clarity goes a long way in getting their attention and maintaining it.
Possible Cause: Messages simply aren't interesting
A stale and overused template may be the reason for all your internal email troubles. Employees quickly tire of reading the same email every week and the same old message loses appeal.
Solution: Test out tone, try images & video
Solving this problem is as easy as switching up your usual template for something new and refreshing -- what better way to kick-start 2016?
You can first try out different email tones for your audience. Draft an Email Template with a more casual tone and then one with a corporate tone. Test out both to see which one your audience most connects with.
Just because your organization's internal emails have always been done a certain way, there's no reason it should stay like that. Try out a total face-lift for your internal communications.
Never used images before? Throw a few into your latest email. Have you considered using internal videos to strengthen your messaging? Schedule a meeting with your CEO and propose the idea of making a company update via video, directly from the CEO.
With any major change you make, it's important to regularly test messaging and take inventory of your internal emails.
Test. Measure. Repeat. Listen to Your Internal Email Data
Internal communicators have the difficult job of making the uninteresting, interesting and communicating both difficult and important company messages.
One of the great things about email tracking and getting actionable data on your internal emails with any email measurement tool is that IC pros can test and try out new methods. Over time, getting internal email data helps communicators understand what's working and how to improve. If you make changes to your internal email communications, make a habit of checking your open and click data.
If you notice some changes aren't as effective as you hoped, or your changes have in fact solved all your internal email woes, you can easily adjust your emails to adhere to the data.
It's about understanding what your data is telling you and knowing what you can change to make impactful, relevant internal emails that employees in your organization open (and read).
What are some other ways internal email data can help better engage employees? Let us know in the comments below!