While email is no longer the only major platform for business communication, it’s still a very important one. Your email inbox hosts urgent emails, reminders and alerts, replies to important threads, and notifications from different platforms – giving you a holistic overview of what needs your attention.
Given how useful email is, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that the average professional spends 28% of the workweek reading, replying to, and managing them. This statistic doesn’t just apply to your colleagues, either, but to your customers as well – they’re professionals coming to you for products and services. And, like you, they’re sifting through their emails every day, too.
Used right, email is a powerful tool not just for internal comms, but also for reaching your customers and delivering tailored experiences.
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Why email is still vital for business communication
Despite the growing diversity of apps for internal comms, including the likes of Slack, Microsoft Teams, etc., email remains one of the most important platforms for business communication. This is largely because of the unique benefits it offers, namely:
- Truly asynchronous communication. Asynchronous communication is interaction that isn’t in real-time; like when you send an email, comment on a Google Doc, or assign someone a task in your project management tool.
While asynchronous communication is important for any business, it’s more so for remote, hybrid, and distributed teams. It helps your team members manage work on their own time and prioritize tasks as they see fit, helping them balance their workloads.
Email facilitates truly async communication, which empowers team members to plan and manage their workdays. When they check their inbox, they’ll see important emails, notifications from different apps, reminders, etc. This allows them to quickly identify and prioritize urgent tasks and discard distractions.
It also means that they can shut off from work by choosing not to check their emails during off-hours, encouraging work-life balance.
- Platform maturity. SaaS has evolved to the point where it seems like there’s a tool for every pain point imaginable. But if you’ve tried out your fair share of SaaS tools, you’ll have come to appreciate the difference between growing platforms versus more mature ones.
The more mature ones seem to have figured out exactly what their users need, and there’s seemingly a feature for everything. Newer players are still working out the ropes, relying on feature requests and feedback to refine their platforms.
Popular email providers are much like mature SaaS tools, and maybe even more refined. Outlook and Gmail, for example, have intuitive interfaces, lots of customization features and add-ons (granted, some are hidden behind a paywall), excellent integrations, and features we very much take for granted.
Seemingly simple features like the options to BCC and CC in emails, schedule replies for later, add attachments, and calendar integrations really add value to business communication. Email providers have had decades to grow and refine their platforms, giving us mature tools that radically improve the way we communicate.
- Widescale adoption. More than four billion people use email, which almost definitely includes everyone in your organization and all of your customers. Since everyone is already using email, you don’t need to worry about training team members to use it or onboarding them onto the platform.
There are virtually no barriers to adoption with email, making it an instant, convenient communication channel. And its convenience doesn’t just make it ideal for internal comms, either. Since your customers are all email users too, it’s also an excellent platform to reach them on.
- Instant, centralized messaging. Thanks to email’s maturity and widescale adoption, most communication and collaboration tools seamlessly integrate with it. CRMs, project management tools, Slack, MS Teams, marketing tools, you name it – they all integrate with email.
This means email can function as a single source of truth for all your important alerts and notifications. Instead of navigating across different platforms and trying to work out which tasks require your immediate attention, you can scroll through your email inbox, making your way through your notifications.
Email can also help you avoid context switching, which is when you keep switching between different apps/projects and alternating between different tasks. 45% of people report that context switching harms their productivity, so using email to cut down on switching apps may help you focus better and get more work done.
The role of email in internal business comms
When you factor in the benefits of email for business communication – like adoption, platform maturity, and centralization – it’s clearly a promising option for internal comms. Because while chat-friendly platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams are great for holding conversations, email lets you communicate in a very precise, customizable way.
You can compose an email pertaining to a specific subject, loop the relevant team in via an email group, CC or BCC supervisors or leaders, etc. You also include a meeting request, and add attachments or include previous emails for more context. Email essentially gives you complete control over how you communicate and who you communicate with.
Email’s role in internal comms becomes even more pertinent when you integrate it with your existing systems, like your CRM, project management tool, calendars, other business comms tools, etc. This integration opens doors to further improve your workflow, for example, by setting up automatic actions such as reminders of deadlines, or notifications when milestones are achieved in high-priority projects.
The role of email in customer journeys
Almost two-thirds of small businesses use email to reach their customers, and over 70% have found subscriber segmentation, message personalization, and automated campaigns to be highly effective strategies. In other words, email helps small businesses do more with less – and deliver personalized customer experiences at scale.
To appreciate how powerful email is for delivering customer experiences, just think about how you’d personalize experiences at a store. You’d have a personal shopper or sales assistant who’ll attempt to understand what a customer is looking for, and will provide recommendations accordingly.
Unfortunately, your employees won’t have a lot of time to really understand what your customers want, and they’ll rely a lot on your customer’s cooperation. Plus, each assistant can also only cater to one customer at a time.
But email marketing lets you leverage customer data from the CRM — like their purchase history, specified interests, and data they’ve shared by filling in forms — to deliver automated, personalized recommendations to all your customers.
For example, you can send your customers notifications about discounts for products they’ve expressed interest in, and make custom upselling and cross-selling recommendations. Email automation also lets you communicate more functional information, like order status updates, invoices, and confirmation emails, further enhancing the experiences you deliver.
Combining CRM insights with email automation helps small and large businesses alike delight their customers by delivering superior, more personalized experiences at scale.
Is your business using email to its full potential?
If it isn’t, you’re missing out. While email is an excellent platform for traditional back-and-forth communication, it can serve many more functions. You can use email to revolutionize your internal comms by creating a single source of truth that centralizes updates, alerts, and important information from across your tech stack. Email also helps small businesses do more with less and deliver tailored customer experiences, at scale.
So if you aren’t already using email to its full potential, there’s no time like the present to rethink the way your business uses it.