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Internal communication: the planned obsolescence of the internal newsletter

Newsletter communication interne talkspirit réseau social entreprise

[This article is taken from our White Paper “Enterprise social networks at the center of collaboration” >>> access the full White Paper (FREE)]

The newsletter (or “mailing list”) is certainly one of the oldest and most used web tools in internal communication in companies. It’s used to announce all sorts of things: the celebration of a new partnership, seminars, recent media coverage, quarterly results, the departure of a colleague, an outstanding team or employee, and more. The ambition of these newsletters and other mailing lists is to address all employees, regardless of their position in the organization. But the biggest challenge in internal communication remains making sure that employees read newsletters. Even if it reaches the mailboxes, that doesn’t guarantee they’ll read it. That’s why we wanted to take a look at it!

The internal newsletter, still often used

A Lecko study showed in 2018 that 66% of the companies use email (mailing lists, newsletters) as the main channel of their internal communication. Main advantage: its cost and its simplicity (“one size fits all” logic). Indeed, email is the cheapest digital medium and its design can be entirely done in-house. But on the performance side, there is very little information on the effectiveness of internal newsletters…

Only an analysis of Bananatag (email tracking software) published at the end of 2017 states the performance statistics of internal newsletter campaigns. This analysis highlights two observations: the internal newsletters are rather open (79% opening rate on average) but the links are very seldomly clicked (15% click-through rate on average). It’s a pity when we know that most newsletters offer articles to read on the blog, or customer cases to consult on the website. 

The larger the company, the less effective the newsletter becomes

The Bananatag study also found an important element: the level of commitment (opening & clicking) varies according to the number of employees in the company. Thus, the more employees there are in the company, the less often they’ll open the newsletter (only 62%) and click on the content (just 8%). That means that in large groups, information is most often spread by word of mouth—with all the omissions, distortion, and oversimplification that go along with that medium. That’s a worrisome sign when we know that poor communication alters the understanding of a situation and therefore degrades the capacity for decision-making and action. However, in a world where communication moves fast, information sharing should be strategic.

Growing disenchantment among employees

Over the years, the internal newsletter has experienced a widespread falling out. We’ve identified three main reasons:

  • An unsuitable form: Employees see a jumpline and flee. Today, they’re especially seduced by short and accessible texts, visuals and videos with dynamic and offbeat titles, and above all, content that gives their peers a voice through feedback or interviews.
  • Inadequate content: Internal newsletters have also suffered a lot from their lack of personalization… and therefore relevance. “One size doesn’t fit all anymore.” As frequent Internet users, your employees are used to ultra-personalized user experiences. They instantly pick up on the discrepancy between the editorial line and their own concerns, language and interests. It’s therefore necessary to get out of the institutional discourse and highlight people/achievements from a more user-friendly, human, and authentic angle. The focus is on making it easier for employees to identify themselves. 
  • The absence of possibilities to interact: Contrary to the tools employees use every day (personal messaging, social networks, shopping sites, media), newsletters offer limited opportunities for reacting, commenting, completing, and answering—in short, having a say in the matter.

Internal newsletters doomed to disappear

In the 25 years since the arrival of the Web, top-down communication that lacks the possibility to easily interact has steadily declined. The replacement of media such as the internal newsletter is just one inevitable consequence. From now on, internal communication can only be envisaged in a collaborative way, i.e. as a dialogue between management and teams. But we’ve already demonstrated that the internal newsletter can’t be this space for dialogue and exchange because it doesn’t have the antidotes to the forces eroding it. Logically speaking, it is destined to gradually disappear. But since nature abhors emptiness, what will it be (or what has it already been) replaced by?

The most credible alternative: the enterprise social network

Since 2012, the arrival of enterprise social networks on the internal communication market has challenged the viability and relevance of internal newsletters.
Enterprise social networks (CSN) allow companies the following:

  • to bring together all employees on a tool designed for multi-dimensional communication (top-down, bottom-up and lateral)
  • to communicate in a segmented way (tailored to the interests and groups/communities to which the employees belong)
  • broadcast all types of media (texts, images, photos, videos and animated gifs)
  • and above all: its mission is first of all to promote interactivity, exchange and engagement (via comments, emojis and media)

Also read: Top 12 best enterprise social network software


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At talkspirit, we perfectly recognize and understand the challenges faced by internal communication managers. For more than 20 years, we’ve supported SME projects by helping them to offer their employees better shared and more accessible information, a vector of cohesion and pride of belonging, and a contributor to the efficiency of work in the company. 

To find out more about how talkspirit reinforces internal communication, about our references in your sector, or about how our tools reinvent collaboration in companies: contact us, schedule a personalized demo and consult our customer case studies.

On talkspirit, several features (Home Page, Important Messages and Pinned Messages) have been designed to position internal communication at the heart of the collaborative experience. 

Benoit Renoul

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