Email vs. App for Corporate Communications in 2024?

May 14, 2019

Perhaps I’m dating myself to reference ‘You’ve Got Mail’ – yes, the movie featuring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, but more so the famed AOL email notification. (Side note and interesting fun-fact: 20 years later, the man who voiced that AOL sound is now an Uber driver in Ohio. In case you were wondering.)

Email has been the de facto standard for business communication for decades. But at what point does it become outdated? Is it the best or only method for corporate communications and engagement?

For starters, it is a myth that email is dead.

I’ll start off by confirming that email isn’t obsolete. As per Forrester’s recent forecast, email is far from dead. In fact, email usage is actually growing. Even among younger users.

Two interesting findings:

  • Younger users are sticking with email, BUT there’s a catch

More users ages 12–17 are using email than are using either Snapchat or Facebook. In fact, from 2014 to 2017, email usage in this age group grew from 69% to 82% BUT per the same study, users in this age group are also much more likely to overlook email in favour of new messaging and social networking apps.

  • Email usage is actually growing. So is consumption of communications via app notifications.

Email as a percentage of use among online users is at 96%, but smartphone email usage has been growing, and will continue given a current penetration rate of only 61%. To sum that up, more people are accessing email (and app notifications) on their smartphones.

Source: Forrester Analytics

Email still plays a valuable role in a modern workplace, but the key here is understanding both its limitations as well as its benefits.

When email isn’t the right choice:

Did you know we read and compose an average of 50-60 emails every day? Email isn’t time-sensitive, isn’t prioritized or segmented, can be overwhelming to recipients and most of all, is a pain to manage from a corporate communications perspective.

Consider these aspects of your communications when deciding between email and a more engaging platform or employee app.

  • Engagement: Do you need immediate feedback from a large group? Use a one-question poll or survey instead.
  • Content: Is your content better served in small bites? App notifications or a notice board will likely serve you better. The opposite is also true. Content that requires time to absorb might get lost in email. Keeping a document library easily accessible via a platform or app is a better way to ensure content is at your team’s fingertips.
  • Targeting: This is a big one. The number one complaint I hear about email surrounds the management of groups. Communications platforms have much more robust admin tools.
  • Access: Reach your employees wherever they are – phone, tablet, desktop. Remember that stat about email penetration on mobile devices? Apps are a better way to reach people on their device.
  • Timeliness: Is there immediacy to your message? Do you need your message to stand out? Email inboxes are crowded, so opt for a digital notice board or notification.
  • Traceability: Call it analytics, call it reporting, call it efficiency. Bottom line is that you need to know how your communications are being received. Anytime you need to understand more than just an open rate, email isn’t the best option.

What about the challenges of adopting an app for internal communications?

For good reason, a growing trend for internal communications is the adoption of a centralized mobile communication platform.

Why? It increases employee engagement and efficiency when teams are connected with the latest updates and information. With a more robust platform that includes training and performance management toolsets, you can also ensure that your workforce has the right skills, meets compliance requirements and are ready to work. The key is that this can all be centrally managed from a platform that extends directly to your employee’s own device, with analytics for every function.

The challenge for any disruptive technology is overcoming the initial reluctance of adoption by end users.

smiling-young-african-woman-sitting-in-a-cafe-PJPFWJE (2)

Let’s tear down two main arguments against a centralized communication platform:

1) It’s going to be time-consuming

Maybe initially, but a well-run platform is intended to increase efficiency and productivity, not hinder it. Like any new implementation, there will no doubt be a learning curve, but it should be a relatively painless one regardless. (For instance, our platform can be managed internally by a single resource without any programming know-how.)

A workforce engagement platform is designed to centralize everything you need to manage every stage of your employees’ careers from the hiring process, to day-to-day communication. Centralizing all communication and resources increases overall efficiency by having a one-stop-shop for management and employees alike.

2) People won’t understand how to use it

If an employee has a Facebook account (like almost 70% of the population), then they can figure out how to operate almost any app in the market today. Workplace apps are designed to be as user-friendly as possible to avoid this obstacle for implementation.

To further combat this obstacle, there’s support to shorten the learning curve during implementation and ongoing support for end-users.

After initial product rollout, we suggest naming a product champion to serve as a convenient source of user support for their coworkers. If there is an employee on site who knows the software inside and out, it further reduces the need for out-of-house support and increases the efficiency of running the software as part of your operation.

Teri Maltais

Teri Maltais

Specializing in digital marketing programs for industrial and commercial technology solutions.

The Complete Guide to Employee Engagement in Healthcare Industry

The Complete Guide to Employee Engagement in Healthcare Industry

Patient care is the top priority in the healthcare industry. But that doesn’t mean the welfare of healthcare workers should play second fiddle. Supporting these essential workers to be motivated, healthy, and engaged in their work is crucial for organizational...

Newest Stories

Want help connecting your front-line?

iTacit’s team of experts is here to help connect the dots so that your front-line team is engaged, trained and ready to work.

Let's Talk

Subscribe to the Frontline Feed

Curated from comms, HR and operation leaders and delivered to your inbox every week.