University boosts engagement with email analytics

Where it once operated with little email data, Northern Illinois University now knows how successful its messaging is. That allows tweaking email programs with low engagement rates.

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NIU email metrics

Employee engagement at a university comes with particular challenges that make email an essential form of messaging.

For example, faculty members operate independently, scattered in 20 buildings across campus, says Andrew Pemberton, internal communications manager at Northern Illinois University.

“You’re going to a classroom,” he says. “You’re teaching students. You’re going home. You’re not necessarily engaging every day with another faculty member or your administrator.

“So communicating through email is the way to create community at an institution that doesn’t necessarily have a central working building.”

That makes it essential not to operate blindly when it comes to understanding whether messages are getting through to audiences. That’s why NIU is using PoliteMail—an internal communication platform that plugs into Outlook—to track its email engagement.

The university builds employee morale by disseminating positive news stories—research, artistic achievements and other accomplishments—on its NIU Today internal news blog and promoting it with twice-weekly emails.

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