When to use Slack for Internal Newsletters

Slack is a place for organisations to collaborate, inform and celebrate wins, but long blocks of text in a channel can quickly overwhelm employees and lead to important updates becoming lost. Even for companies using Slack as their primary internal communications channel, there has traditionally been a reluctance to use this platform for a recurring internal newsletter. 

Email Newsletters

Email newsletters have often been favoured, because of the flexibility to create eye-catching designs and layouts that lend themselves to longer form updates. There are a number of software platforms which specialize in email newsletters for internal communications teams, such as Staffbase and Contact Monkey. 

One challenge of internal email newsletters is that companies need to compete for employee attention amongst all the external emails (including promotional/ spam mail): the average open rate for internal email rates is around 60%, but the average click rate is only around 15% (Source: Newsweaver). When using Slack, employees are already communicating with their colleagues, and if done effectively, internal updates via a newsletter format can be a natural extension of this. 

Slack Block Kit Builder

For short updates, standard Slack posts with rich text (e.g. emojis) can be sufficient to get the attention of employees, but for longer newsletters with multiple updates and calls to action, this is where normal posts fall down. Granted, you can use Slack text formatting to embed links or bold/ highlight important points, but if you’re looking to achieve visually engaging layouts with longer form content, your options are limited with standard posts. 

Slack has a Block Kit Builder, which enables users to customise and post content using more visually appealing designs and images. For newsletters, this content can be organised into blocks, similar to the sections in an email newsletter. You can also include clear headings and calls to action within your blocks to encourage higher engagement. Although it has clear benefits, Slack’s Block Kit has a bit of a clunky back-end and can be challenging for beginners or non-coders to get to grips with (it’s primarily aimed at app developers rather than communications professionals). 

The other missing aspect of Block Kit is the capability to track analytics. Measuring the performance of internal newsletters is crucial to understand which topics and types of content employees are engaging more with. With a Business+ or Enterprise Slack subscription, you can determine how many times a post has been viewed, but not the click-through rate for links or how long employees spend reading the content. 

Slack App Directory

You might be wondering, why go to the trouble of starting a Slack newsletter if it requires coding with the Block Kit and you can’t measure important data points? If email is the channel where your employees are most engaged, then it’s probably best to send internal newsletters via email. However, if Slack is where your employees spend a lot of their time, you already have a captive audience there; thanks to the Slack App Directory, you don’t need to redirect employees to an intranet or wiki page. 

There are over 2,600 apps in the Slack App Directory, including those which are highly relevant for internal communications. For example, if you search for ‘newsletters'' in the App Directory, you’ll be able to browse some different options. With Slack apps such as Canopact, you can build visually stunning newsletters within Slack without any design or coding expertise, along with embedded long-form content. You can have the advantages that come with an engaged communications channel, without the downsides of content fatigue caused by long text blocks. In addition, some Slack apps will offer analytics that help to better inform your internal comms strategy. 

It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of a Slack app for internal communications versus an email newsletter builder. Consider the cost of each option, along with the ease of use and which one better aligns with your organization’s approach to internal comms. Testing each option with a free trial (ideally for a month) is recommended, as this will give you an idea of which channels have higher engagement for your newsletters, and which software is better value for money. 

Conor is the co-founder of Canopact, the internal communications platform for companies using Slack. You can learn more about the best practices for creating Slack newsletters with Canopact

Photo credit: Brooke Cagle for Unsplash

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