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In September 2008 I made a prediction, that email as we know it today will no longer exist in 10 years time.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed on stopthinksocial are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle.
Thursday
Mar312011

« Email is losing ground to Social Communications »

I recently delivered a Social Enterprise marketing campaign titled "Being Social...More Than Just Talking" where the purpose was to raise awareness inside the enterprise that Being Social is not just about tools, it's about a work style change.

The campaign followed Steve, a Sales Communications Specialist, who was a bit of a social sceptic but was open minded to listen. He went on a social journey of discovery and soon realised that by being better socially connected with his colleagues he could be more collaborative AND more productive. Though he didn't managed to reduce his caffeine intake too much ;-)

The campaign was delivered on 3 fronts:

  • An introductory email to 25,000 employees
  • A poster campaign
  • A set of 5 Diary Entry videos (done in the style of Bridget Jones) - one released each day for a week

The campaign has been received very favourably (average marks 9/10 by the employees) and I have had numerous requests to do a follow up Diary Series. BUT what was interesting was the statistics on the initial email that went out.

The email introducing the marketing campaign went out on a Monday morning. Of those 25,000 employees who received it only 5,569 actually opened the email (22%) on the Monday. By the end of the week this figure had increased marginally to 6,310 (25%).

Just let me reiterate that:

three quarters of the workforce had not even bothered to open the email before deciding to discard or delete it

Now there are other factors that have to be taken into consideration here like:

  • was it holiday season?
  • was the subject heading interesting?
  • does the sender have influence and respect of the employees?

The answers to these questions are no, subjective, and again subjective respectively (though the name of the programme was used rather than a senders name here to provide more credibility).

The conclusion I draw from this is that if you want to communicate a message to the masses you can no longer rely only on traditional communication channels but you must use a combination of both traditional and social communication platforms. This is true inside and outside the enterprise.

The days of email blast campaigns are coming to an end.

Welcome to the Social Communication Revolution!

Reader Comments (3)

maybe the employees are too busy and get too many emails every day anyway (i get in the order of 150 mails a day) that another corporate initiative, even if it may be about something the employee might be vaguely interested in attending, is quickly ignored and forgotten about. those of us dealing direct with customers dont get allocated "time off" for attending corporate intiatives, even if they are virtual ones. every hour of our day is metered for responding to a never ending queue of customer demands. if you can organise with my manager that i should spend time reading your company web pages and taking part in web chats instead of doing my normal work tasks, then i will participate. sorry :(

March 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterwill w

@will - your point is a good one and really re-iterating what I was trying to get across.

Let me be very clear - I am in no way proportioning any blame to the employees here. The fact is we all receive too many emails a day (according to the Radicati Group, the average corporate user sends and receives 110 emails a day). How many of those emails are spam related (I mean forced upon you but not relevant to your role).

This is where social communications can play a vital role as it is the individual who chooses what information they want to receive. Corporations need to start thinking about restructuring their communications to improve the efficiency of their workforce.

And the irony here was the email that went out to 22,000 employees, which only 25% opened, was part of a campaign that would lead to a reduction of a business teams email by at least 50% whilst being more productive and collaborative.

But you do raise another interesting point - if Corporations run these type of initiatives how can they expect employees to get engaged if they are not given time to do so?

April 6, 2011 | Registered CommenterDavid Christopher

There are many emails that I read but are never shown as opened, because I read them in the preview pane. I also tend not to allow the sending of read receipts (if prompted).

Social networks do have a place in the workplace but the implementation is critical. All too often they require a pull mechanism (i.e. I need to visit a website periodically to interact with the social network) or fall back to email alerts. Neither of these scenarios is an improvement on email/intranets. You're absolutely correct that a work style change is required but the trick is to:

1. Add value - i.e. make people want to use the networks.
2. Make it easy - i.e. provide client software to interact with the social networks.

Failing to do this just creates another silo in which information is lost...

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark Wilson

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