Printed employee newsletters and corporate newspapers are still widely used internal communication tools. Though they’re criticized for a lack of immediacy, their greatest strength is exactly that: they’re not constrained by the need to cover day-to-day operational news and information, but instead have the freedom to look behind the scenes and take deep dives into the business. But while the purpose of an employee newsletter is still 100% valid, their delivery via print should be a thing of the past.
Here are our 6 top reasons why it makes sense to switch to a digital newsletter:
1. With comments, likes, or ratings, a digital newsletter can be interactive, resulting in a lively experience for readers and highly relevant feedback for editors.
Asking for ratings is great for generating quick feedback and it usually does a better job of engaging people to action. Ratings based on giving stars (from 1 to 5, for example) have been popular for a while, but they present a challenge when it comes to aggregating “top rated” lists; e.g., a post with 20 ratings and an average of 4.5 would score lower than a post with just two ratings of 5.
Feedback for communication is also a challenge because editors can’t be certain whether users are rating the content itself or are instead reacting to the way it’s presented. We therefore suggest a rating technique that’s easy to use, easy to aggregate, and easy to understand: “This is useful.”
Don’t expect many comments right away. This is an example of the average number of comments on a management blog that belongs to a tech company with 1,000 employees.
It’s important to manage expectations and to realize that it takes time for members of an organization to really start giving feedback via online comments or ratings. One way to encourage this is by including ratings and comments in an article’s overview, thus highlighting the topics that have numerous interactions and promoting the content that other users have found useful.
On the other hand, some organizations choose to start with limited interaction by disabling comments. This is fine, but note that comments should either be entirely enabled or disabled for a whole channel, otherwise users will be confused to see articles within a channel that sometimes can and sometimes cannot be commented upon.
2. A digital newsletter can be easily localized to get even closer to your people and their stories (think local events or social responsibility initiatives).
Intranets and employee newsletters are often literally too far away from their readers. That’s a real shame, because local news is key to continuously attracting readers. Targeted local content can be delivered via channels that are automatically matched to a user’s location.
Having more local stories is a powerful way to produce increased relevance and generate greater motivation. Try to be authentic; don’t aim to be too perfect, and keep your publishing efforts within reasonable bounds. It’s far more important over the long haul to keep going than to start big only to run out of breath soon after.
3. A digital newsletter allows internal communications to shorten publishing cycles and provides readers with more up-to-date content in every issue.
Organizations we’ve worked with have had a publishing frequency for their printed newsletters between once a month and once every three months. An online newsletter can explore new types of timely, topical content, such as stories about upcoming (local) events or pictures from a recent party.
This point is closely related to localization: stories are more relevant to an audience when they are local and timely. Nobody wants to wait until February to see pictures of the company Christmas party.
4. A digital newsletter reaches most of its readership where they get a majority of their news and information: on mobile devices.
Worldwide sales of smartphones to end users totaled an astounding 1.54 billion units in 2017, up significantly from 680 million in 2012, according to Gartner.
5. A digital newsletter gives your readers their own personal level of detail.
Whenever physical concepts are transferred into the digital world, the initial temptation is to “digitize” the existing format and leave it at that. We also see this with employee newspapers, where the digital format is nothing more than a pdf that gets distributed via email or other channels.
It’s obvious that such a format will go nowhere near achieving the benefits of a fully digital newsletter. The difference between paper and digital is the adaptable level of detail provided by an online experience. Readers can quickly scan a wide variety of content and decide whether or not to dig deeper.
6. A digital version saves paper and money (it takes 2 to 3 tons of wood to make one ton of paper).
The environmental stakes are high. Worldwide, paper accounts for 42 percent of the trees cut down by industry every year. And the production and use of paper has a number of adverse effects on the environment — known collectively as paper pollution.
So maybe it’s a good New Year’s resolution to launch your first online newsletter!
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