We see this all the time: internal communicators get caught in the trap of using marketing tools for internal communications.

It sounds fairly harmless, right?

Self-serve newsletter platforms like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, Hubspot and others seem like good tools for sending internal newsletters.

And that’s half true. They are good for sending newsletters. We like them, and we use them in our own marketing. 

But time after time, internal communication professionals are getting burned by using marketing tools for internal newsletters.


Because they were never designed for the complexity of corporate communications or internal marketing.  

The main objective of internal marketing programs is to promote awareness of company objectives, create employee engagement, and foster brand advocacy. Those objectives are all seriously hindered by using marketing tools instead of dedicated internal communication tools. 

We’ve broken it down into 7 simple reasons marketing tools aren’t serving internal communications professionals. These keys to effective internal marketing will help you save time and improve your reach.

  • Distribution List Management
  • Employees Unsubscribe
  • Third Party Bounce Rates
  • Irrelevant Metrics
  • Security Concerns
  • Formatting Disasters
  • Lack of Dedicated Onboarding and Support

Here’s everything you need to know about why marketing tools fail internal communicators:

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Distribution List Management Stays Internal

When you send a newsletter, naturally you have some group of contacts or a distribution list in mind. Some communication professionals prefer to send one mass newsletter to everyone, while others are savvy about segmenting their employees to create more personalized communications.

Regardless of how you send internal newsletters uploading your distribution list to a marketing platform every week is a massive pain in the behind. Click To Tweet

Especially in large organizations where several new hires, promotions, and resignations/terminations could all happen in a week, maintaining a large distribution list is time consuming. It is doubly time consuming if you have to maintain an internal distribution list, and then manage one on a third party marketing platform. Plus, errors are more likely to occur as a result of keeping your distribution list in multiple places.

How to make distribution list management more efficient?

Make your life simple; use an internal communication tool for this.

Instead of manually curating your distribution lists, or chasing down HR or IT for a new list each time, just use an internal communications tool that is already integrated with your Outlook Exchange servers. For example, ContactMonkey sends newsletters directly from your Outlook inbox, which means you can just use your existing distribution lists. Or, you can use an existing CSV for easy upload if you prefer.

It literally does not get any easier than this.

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Don’t Let Employees Unsubscribe From Internal Marketing

Newsletters and email blasts are among the most tried and true internal marketing strategies. They’ve been around for years, and they work. 

As email has gotten more and more sophisticated, so have the demands on internal communicators to make more appealing newsletters. Aesthetically pleasing HTML newsletters make internal materials much more palatable, creating a demand for newsletter tools.

Unfortunately, marketing newsletter tools do not play nice with corporate email clients. 

When your internal marketing goal is to increase awareness of corporate initiatives, the last thing you need is employees opting out of your newsletters.

Legally, when using a marketing tool you have to allow people to unsubscribe from unwanted communications

CAN-SPAM, the United States’s spam governance act, covers all commercial messages. Commercial messages are anything with the intent to “advertise or promote a commercial product or service”. 

The other type of message defined in the act is “Transactional or Relationship content” , which would include the sphere of corporate and internal communications. According to the CAN-SPAM act, anything that “provides information about an employment relationship or employee benefits” is not considered spam.

The reason marketing tools don’t make unsubscribe buttons optional becomes pretty obvious.

Marketing tools are designed for commercial messaging. On the website of any marketing tool, you don’t have to look hard to see that the tools are designed to help send Commercial messages. 

Marketing tools do not want to be held liable for failure to enforce CAN-SPAM guidelines. Nor do they want their customers to churn if served with an anti-spam lawsuit. To keep things simple, these marketing platforms will include an unsubscribe button on every email sent through their platform, regardless of the intention of the message. 

Marketing companies do not care that you are using their tool for internal email analytics. To them, an email is an email. With millions of emails being sent daily, it makes sense  for them to make an opt-out option mandatory rather than police users.

But let’s say you do use a marketing platform with an unsubscribe button for internal communications; what’s the worst thing that could happen?

Well it would start with one employee noticing the unsubscribe button, and has the potential to end with entire offices or departments learning that they can unsubscribe en masse. As a result, you could have serious gaps in your newsletter’s reach, all thanks to a single grouchy employee. 

How do I prevent employees unsubscribing from internal emails?

By using a tool designed for internal communications, you never have to worry about employees unsubscribing from important communications. Internal communication tools are designed for “Transactional and Relationship” messages, they are pertinent to employees and do not need to be blocked. They are not considered spam by the Federal Trade Commission. 

By using a dedicated internal email tracking tool like ContactMonkey, you can avoid the issue of spam laws and unsubscribing employees entirely. Maximize your newsletter opens every time by using an internal communications tool. 

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Third Party Messages Might Be Blocked By IT

Depending on how strict your IT department is, it’s easy for marketing messages sent through newsletter servers to bounce or to automatically be marked as spam.

Especially with HTML rich emails, anything with code in it is liable to set off flags. Firewalls can quickly identify emails with lots of HTML and check if the sender is associated with spam. Some places automatically send all emails from external senders to the spam folder!

The deliverability of newsletters sent through a marketing tool depends a lot on your IT department. Large companies may have extremely strict IT departments, aimed at reducing spam and distractions for employees. 

It also depends on how your employees respond to newsletters. If many employees mark your newsletters as spam that will increase the likelihood of your future newsletters getting blocked. 

blocked by organizational settings

How do I prevent IT from blocking my newsletters?

The surest way to make sure your internal newsletters send properly?

Use an internal marketing tool that will send newsletters from a company email address. We’re not talking about a proxy email address you can buy through a remote server, we mean actually send it from your organization’s Gmail or Outlook. ContactMonkey helps you accomplish this through a handy plugin for Outlook and chrome extension for Gmail. 

Your IT department is concerned with spam and phishing attacks, and rightfully so! To protect your organization, you should keep sensitive employee emails on your own servers.

Avoid The Clutter of Irrelevant Internal Email Analytics

Metrics are everything these days. 

Whether you’re new to measuring the impact of your communications or you’re a quants guru, you know that the last thing you need are distracting irrelevant metrics.

So when you’re using an external marketing tool, you’ll see your Conversion Rate, Revenue, Unsubscribe Rate, and Bounce Rate. 

Those are all important metrics when you’re trying to sell a product, or when you’re sending other commercial emails where opt-outs and spam blockers are potential obstacles. They help you optimize your sales and keep a non-captive audience engaged.

But with internal communications, you aren’t going to need any of those marketing features. You’re not trying to earn new customers, so you won’t need to measure conversion rate. You’re not selling a product, so revenue really isn’t important either. Internal communications are not spam emails, so unsubscribe and bounce rates really shouldn’t even be relevant. 

mailchimp dashboard

How do I focus on internal marketing KPIs?

You would be better off using a tool that encourages and measures your two-way communication with employees. 

A tool dedicated to internal communications will be able to show you more targeted metrics. ContactMonkey also allows you to take pulse surveys, use emoji reaction icons, and solicit comments from employees – all from within your internal newsletter! All your quals and quants will be covered in one simple tool!

Don’t let your metrics dashboard host marketing mumbo jumbo that doesn’t serve you. Instead, use an internal newsletter tool that allows you to focus on what matters: employees.

Mitigate Security Risks From Marketing Tools

When you use a marketing platform for internal communications, you’re using a third party system to store and send confidential information.

Everything from your employee’s full names and contact info to potentially sensitive internal news would reside within a marketing server or on the cloud. 

To make matters worse, most marketing newsletter tools contain a link that allows users to view the HTML rich newsletter in a browser window. While this may seem like a fairly benign accessibility tool, the last thing you want is your internal newsletter public on the internet for anyone with the URL. 

Then you have to consider whether the marketing tool you’re using is trustworthy. You don’t want to use a marketing tool that was found leaking email addresses for your internal communications. Nor do you want any kind of tool that acts as a lucrative target for hackers, phishers, and scammers.

How can I reduce cybersecurity risks from marketing tools?

When you use an internal communication tool, emails are sent from your own email server. Confidential contact information and internal news actually stays internal. With ContactMonkey newsletters are sent from your own IT-approved email domain. Your content and your distribution lists stay on your own secure servers, reducing the risk of your employees being targeted for malicious cyber attacks.

Spend Less Time Fixing Outlook Formatting Disasters

We see this time and time again: someone designs a beautiful newsletter on a marketing tool, uploads the most current distribution list, and sends their masterpiece to the company. Then, when they see the newsletter in their own Outlook inbox, it looks like a disaster. It could be distorted, it could be missing images, or it might not display at all!

Since Outlook 2007, Microsoft Outlook has been using Microsoft Word to render HTML emails. Word documents render HTML differently than most other email clients, the usual result is image distortion. You may also notice:

  • Ignored image padding
  • Clipped images
  • Images are rescaled or are the wrong size
  • Images don’t load at all
  • Background colours and images don’t show
  • Animated gifs won’t work
  • Inappropriate white spaces appear between lines

Although you can spend hours testing and reformatting your newsletters to make them work, you have to remember those are hours of your time you can’t get back. Imagine how many other things you could do with all that time?

ContactMonkey is proven to save Mailchimp users up to 4 hours a week. That’s an entire afternoon per week. Or 25 whole days in a year. 

If you switch to an internal newsletter tool that actually works in Outlook, you could offer 5 extra weeks of vacation to your communications team Click To Tweet

Or realistically, spend that time on other unignorable tasks so you can finally get caught up with your workload.

How can I simplify formatting HTML for Outlook?

ContactMonkey offers the same seamless drag and drop HTML newsletter builder that your favourite marketing tool does, except it’s designed to render your newsletters correctly the first time. Plus there are also great ready-made internal communications email templates to choose from. Why waste time with tools you know aren’t going to work? 

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Marketing Companies Don’t Onboard Internal Communicators

It’s sad but true, marketing tools weren’t really designed for you. Mailchimp, ConstantContact, and the other marketing tools were designed for small-businesses and solo entrepreneurs to self-start. In order to keep costs cheap for these audiences, they skimp on the type of support enterprise-level users need.

That means no onboarding or installation support.

You’re going to need a premium plan just to get someone on the phone.

The support reps you talk to aren’t equipped to help internal communications professionals.

Get the picture?

You and your IT department are on your own in getting set up with a marketing tool. If you have any questions along the way you’re basically screwed. 

Compare that to internal communication platforms that only work with enterprise clients. You’ll be able to talk to someone who understands the unique challenges internal communication professionals face. 

How do I get started with an internal marketing tool?

At ContactMonkey, each client has a dedicated Account Manager who will help you implement our internal communications software and offer training to ensure you’re successful with the platform. We’ll even put in the training up front with a free trial

None of this self-serve nonsense you get from marketing companies. Every single one of our customers is a valued customer, and you can expect to be treated as such. See why when it comes to corporate email service, ContactMonkey is number one.

Still using that marketing tool for internal communications?

Maybe you’re already using a marketing tool for your internal communications and it’s working fine for you.

Or maybe you didn’t even know there were newsletter design tools designed specifically for internal communications. You should still know what your options are so you can make an informed decision.

Try ContactMonkey for free and see how much time you save! 

Or, see how we stack up against some of the most popular marketing newsletter tools: 

ContactMonkey vs. Mailchimp

ContactMonkey vs. Hubspot

14 Mailchimp Alternatives

Don’t see your marketing tool here? Get in touch for a custom comparison!

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