Make no mistake about it, I do not consider employee communications sent by email SPAM. My definition of SPAM would include the words ‘bulk’, ‘unwanted’, ‘unsolicited’ and ‘indiscriminate’.
Even the most cynical and jaded employee could never accuse employee communications as being indiscriminate. By definition ‘bulk’ would apply as any broadcast employee communications are likely to be sent one-to-many. On the ‘unsolicited’ side, as an employee it would be pretty hard to argue that the company does not have a right and perhaps even a legal obligation to inform you of certain things relating to the work they are paying you for.
That leaves us with ‘unwanted’, which is where I think this discussion needs to focus. This is the basis of permission marketing. Why waste time sending messages to an unreceptive audience? A loyal and enthusiastic customer is likely to elect to receive marketing messages from their favourite brands providing they don’t overdo it. Similarly, a highly engaged employee is more likely to read an email from their CEO than one who has switched off from the company they work for.
So it is a constant challenge for Internal Communicators is to assess the penetration of their company’s broadcast emails.
My experience suggests that very few companies use email management systems/providers such as Vertical Response or dotMailer for their internal audiences. If they did this would be a pointless debate as all the metrics you’d need would be at your fingertips. Come to think of it, why not use these products for Internal Communications? Let’s leave that question for another day!
Most companies use enterprise email clients like Outlook. Yes you can see how many of your emails are never opened if you wish to deploy the read/unread request for every message you send out, but this doesn’t prove much and it annoys the hell out of email recipients. Yes you can survey staff or seek feedback through focus groups – but you can’t do that too often, so the granularity in detail you need will more than likely be missing.
There are many reasons why staff may chose not to read a broadcast email. Not seen as relevant, too long and wordy, annoying frequency, too busy, lost in all the noise, bad past experience etc. Without good feedback mechanisms we’ll never really know.
So why not stick an unsubscribe button on every Internal Communications broadcast email? On a message by message basis you will get instant feedback on the readers’ reaction to the email, measured by the number of unsubscribe requests.
You could then use this data to go back to the requestor on a one-to-one basis and seek feedback which could contribute to you changing the timing, frequency, content, and tone of future emails to improve their effectiveness. You could also use it as an opportunity to seek to change their mind about unsubscribing.
Ideally someone who has actually tried this could share their experience here. Is this something you have already considered and may try out in the future? Do you think your staff would be brave enough to hit the unsubscribe button?