Recently, I had the chance to sit down with Michael DeFranco, CEO of messaging app Lua, and was astonished to learn that some of his clients have reported a 98 percent internal message open rate -- compared to the standard 20 to 30 percent associated with traditional office email. If you ask me, that’s pretty damn impressive!
Not only did I want to find out how he achieved such a surprising feat, I wanted to hear what other insights he could provide for other growth-oriented entrepreneurs. Here are three lessons I learned from our conversation:
1. Skip email for internal communications.
In DeFranco’s opinion, email should only be used for external conversations, such as the messages you exchange with suppliers, clients, job candidates and distributors. When you need to communicate information internally, enterprise messaging systems are a stronger alternative, as they prompt immediate action, rather than being left ignored in an over-crowded inbox.
Transitioning to this type of system can be challenging, especially for employees who have become accustomed to the lack of accountability granted by email usage, but it is doable. Success for most companies will come down to having an internal messaging champion who’s able to persuade other employees to get onboard with the new system, as well as having an established and enforced series of disciplinary measures for those that don’t follow the new protocol.
2. Give your team the right tools.
Another interesting insight that DeFranco shared during our discussion was his experience with the “BYOD” movement. Many companies that have implemented “bring your own device” programs that allow employees to do business work from their personal smartphones and tablets have been disappointed with the results. Though they expected to see shifts in productivity similar to the initial launch of PCs, productivity gains haven’t kept pace.
But as DeFranco points out, part of the reason the initial wave of PCs resulted in such dramatic productivity improvements is that they came packaged with software such as Microsoft Word and Excel, which significantly reduced the amount of time needed for traditional pen and paper tasks. In essence, by promoting BYOD policies, we’ve given employees new PCs, but without all the tools that made them so successful.
The solution to this challenge, as you might expect, is to research the apps and tools that your employees need to be successful and then provide them at the company’s cost. While you’ll want to carefully examine the security features each app provides to prevent inadvertent data leaks, think also about what tasks employees can do on their devices.
Could your sales team use the Salesforce app to increase efficiency? Could a mobile-messaging app such as Lua provide an effective alternative to email in terms of relaying messages and getting team members to take action?
3. Connect your departments with data.
While there are many different enterprise-level messaging apps out there, one thing that sets Lua apart, according to DeFranco, is its ability to track messaging analytics on the program’s backend. Here’s why that’s so important.
One of Lua’s first customers was a sports stadium which had a goal to drive increased ticket revenue. After using the program throughout a game, stadium executives found that, while the sales and ticketing offices communicated well, the marketing team was being left out of the loop. Since the marketing team was the one making decisions about which promotions to run and which groups to target, this was a major oversight. Resolving it to give the marketing team real-time sales insights improved ticket sales almost immediately.
The point here isn’t to promote Lua exclusively, though I do think it’s a worthwhile program for companies in need of internal messaging apps. What is important is that you make yourself aware of the power of data in these circumstances. What would your company’s messaging analytics say about your internal communications? Would they reveal any gaps, like they did in the sports stadium example above? If you aren’t using a program that can capture this information -- Lua or otherwise -- you’re missing out on a tremendously valuable opportunity.
Of course, the tricky part about adopting a data-driven mindset is that there is a seemingly endless number of programs and tools out there that will give you analytics information -- so many that you could devote your entire work week to collecting and trying to make sense of this content.
To avoid data overload, I’d recommend identifying one to three key metrics where your company is weakest and implement only those solutions that provide data on these metrics. Say you’re most concerned about your churn rate. In this case, focus your attention on programs that provide sales-funnel data before worrying about apps that offer communication analytics. Remember, you can always add in more tools later on once you’re up to speed on your initial selections.
Do you use an internal messaging program instead of email? If so, have you seen the type of improvements described here? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!