7 Game-Changing Internal Newsletter Metrics

Due to the cultural shakeup of the last couple of years, effective digital communication is more critical than ever. Many employees can no longer rely on in-person team meetings, company-wides, and even water cooler gossip to glean important company information from their peers and managers. Internal newsletters are a reliable way to inform your workforce on mission-critical messaging—keeping them tapped in, engaged, and productive.

Written by

Henrik Jesman Sunde

March 1, 2022

But you can't just send internal newsletters out into the ether and expect a glorious response from everyone. Do you know who reads your content? Whether it's relevant? Is their inbox notification pinging in the middle of the night?

Following concrete newsletter metrics is critical to understanding the engagement level of your audience. It allows communicators to feed data back into newsletter strategies, tweaking and improving each subsequent campaign for more engaging content that employees will enjoy.

You may believe you've already mastered newsletter analytics if you send out an external newsletter to subscribers, leads, or stakeholders. And yes, there is some overlap, but internal newsletters serve an entirely different purpose that requires a unique medley of email metrics that we'll discuss in this article.

External Versus Internal Newsletters

The major types of company newsletters are external and internal newsletters, each having its purpose and audience. We break down the differences below.

Whether you have a message for prospective customers, preferred club members, or trusted stakeholders, external newsletters inform people outside of a company or organization. They reach a large audience and are more general in messaging without the need to appeal to each reader individually.

On the other hand, internal newsletters cater to a niche audience—your company's employees. They keep workers informed about news and events and answer common questions about the organization. When employees tune in to the company they work for, productivity often soars.

Because internal newsletters go out to a smaller group of team members and colleagues—not an unending sea of unknown readers—it's vital to pick key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to your goals and objectives. It becomes crucial to track email metrics that allow you to parse demographics like a recipient's location, preferred channel, or device—and measure engagement in ways you can directly impact.

7 Most Important Internal Newsletter Metrics

Individual email metrics are like pieces to a puzzle. Tracking one KPI will give you a glimpse at the complete picture, but you need to pay attention to myriad aspects of performance for comprehensive newsletter analytics.

The following seven newsletter metrics are by no means an exhaustive list. But if you start with these, you will be well on your way to becoming a newsletter guru in no time.

1. Open Rate

One of the most critical metrics for any communication is its open rate. Simply knowing how many people opened your newsletter is invaluable information. You can carefully sculpt the most engaging content the business world has ever seen, but if no one opens the email, they'll never read your pièce de résistance of newsletters. While open rate is also valuable information to collect for external newsletters, it does yield some interesting insights when applied to internal communications. For example, when you see who is opening your internal newsletters and who isn't, you can start to develop a picture of what's going on.

How to Use Open Rate Data

Open rate only tells you how many readers open your newsletters. To make a meaningful change, you need to know why. Once you find a common thread among those who don't open employee newsletters, you can begin to formulate a strategy—is it a simple matter of writing more engaging headlines? Or is it more involved, like swapping out content or scaling frequency?

But don't do anything too drastic just yet—the following metrics will add clarity to and empower your open rate data so you know how employees engage with your content after they open each message.

2. Click-through Rate

Click-through rate (CTR) focuses on the employees who are opening your newsletters and reveals whether they find the content relevant and engaging or not. In short, CTR represents the number of clicks on videos, attachments, and outbound links you've peppered throughout your content.

How many readers access the content you direct them to and how many times—whether it's a link to the redesigned website, a new intranet page on employee benefits, or a Google form to RSVP to the company holiday party? If employees open your newsletter and click away seconds later, your content likely isn't hitting the mark. Click-through rate is invaluable data and, like open rate, only becomes more valuable as you combine it with other newsletter analytics.

How to Use Click-through Rate Data

Pay attention to which links get clicked to understand what content subjects and formats readers want to interact with. A pattern may emerge, letting you know that the column by C-suite members is a hit and the employee pet of the month segment is a wash, for example.

Additionally, employees may not click on content that is relevant to them simply because it doesn't grab their attention on the page. Play around with formatting, placement, and presentation to see how it affects CTR. Does that employee training video get more clicks with a big thumbnail at the top of the page instead of a small link buried at the end?

3. Open Time

Open time, not to be confused with time to open, is the time when an employee is most likely to open communications. Measure the open time for the time of day, day of the week, or another length of time that makes sense for your company or industry.

While optimizing send times to match up with this window of high engagement has always been important, it is even more so in the modern work climate. Today, many employees work remotely—sometimes in different time zones than their colleagues. Because of this, employees at your organization are more likely to have a wider range of preferred open times, and choosing an optimal send time is more complicated.

How to Use Open Time Data

Open time isn't something to improve so much as acknowledge and adapt to by adjusting when you send out your newsletter. With a capable internal communications software like Zelo, you can go beyond simply understanding when emails get noticed or slip under the radar.

Zello allows employees to set their own preferred open time and automatically send internal newsletters to each individual when they've indicated they're ready to devote full attention to important company recon.

4. Device

Should you prioritize formatting content for desktop or mobile devices? Well, that depends on which devices your employees prioritize themselves! When you understand which devices your people spend most of their time using, you can tailor content to those specific screens.

Of course, it's easy to find industry statistics on device usage. Still, generalized stats aren't nearly as powerful as knowing what your actual audience prefers—which can be impacted by your company's location, size, and culture, among other factors.

How to Use Device Data

When you know how your audience prefers to view your content, you can optimize it for that viewing method. That could mean prioritizing efforts to make internal newsletters mobile-friendly or tweaking their code for seamless viewing in a particular web browser on a desktop device. For example, prioritize white space on mobile devices for a light, airy feeling and top-notch legibility.

5. Time Read

Again, increasing open rate feels like a sizable victory, but you're not over the fence yet. Readers may be enticed by a catchy headline only to be let down by lackluster or irrelevant content and immediately click away without absorbing information. Assuming anyone who opened your newsletter also read it can lead to misleading newsletter analytics and missteps in future newsletter strategies.

How much time is your audience spending on the page? Do readers immediately click away or take the requisite time to read, watch, and otherwise consume your content? When you know how much text an employee read or what percentage of a training video they watched, you suddenly have a clearer picture of how your content is landing with your audience.

How to Use Time Read Data

Time read data allows communicators to put their fingers on the pulse of how much content readers consume. This is invaluable data for optimizing future content, whether that entails testing different formats, adjusting for length, or writing on another subject. It can even inform communicators how their audience reacts to specific pieces of content, like whether they prefer shorter texts and longer videos.

6. Employee Fatigue

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by all the notification icons on your mobile apps? The same phenomenon happens with internal communications. Employees may find great value in your internal newsletter but could forgo reading them if you frequently bombard their inboxes, apps, and other communications channels.

If you fragment employees' attention between their workload and an onslaught of internal newsletters, it can have a few unexpected results. Overwhelmed and fatigued employees may become less productive rather than more engaged, and eventually, they'll give up on reading internal newsletters altogether—missing out on mission-critical messaging. But how much is too much?

How to Use Employee Fatigue Data

Analyzing fatigue is the culmination of two important KPIs discussed above. By looking at the open rate normalized for the volume of messages sent, you can accurately depict message performance regardless of batch size. The more opens you see, the more employees are engaged and attentive to internal newsletters. As opens drop, you may want to scale back on frequency as this could signify communications fatigue among your audience.

The other key newsletter metric for measuring employee fatigue is the average time it takes for a typical audience member to open an internal newsletter after receiving it. When employees aren't opening communications quickly, they likely can't keep up with the pace, or the messages get buried in cluttered inboxes—both pointing to a need to reduce the dissemination rate.

7. Channel Receptiveness

While email has historically been the default vehicle for disseminating internal newsletters, there are now dozens of viable communications platforms, and every employee likely has their favorite. You can see where newsletters are landing and where they aren't by tracking channel responsiveness.

While email is the most common distribution channel, it certainly isn’t the only one anymore. Platforms like Slack, Teams, Workplace, G-Suite, email, SMS, and others are becoming more common. Discovering which channels are most active in your organization allows you to send future internal newsletters to the communications where they are most likely to be opened and read—reaching employees on their turf.

How to Use Channel Reception Data

When you understand which communications platforms, browsers, and even operating systems employees prefer to engage with, you can tweak your messages for compatibility with these technologies and boost engagement by positioning your communications in their line of sight.

With newsletter software like Zelo, you can discover which channels are your best performers and let employees set their preferred channels to receive company updates. For example, developers may use Slack as their main communications vehicle while the sales team might be easier to reach via SMS for a more personalized experience.

Regardless of whether your audience prefers to use email, SMS, Teams, or other distribution channels, Zelo makes it easy to automatically send internal newsletters to each recipient’s preferred channel.

Improve Your Communications with Zelo

Find out why companies all over the world use Zelo to improve their internal communications, collect employee feedback and build better teams.

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