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Forget e-newsletters, 2019 is all about “Performance Communication”

At the LGCommunications Academy last year, I prophesied the death of the council email newsletter. While it’s still too early to write an obituary, I could tell from the audiences surprised gasps this wasn’t something they were expecting to hear from Granicus – we’re “the council newsletter people”, after all. It’s about time I explain why I believe my prediction to be true, and why I think it will be replaced with “Performance Communication.”

A long history of failed IT predictions tells us that no technology ever really dies. There will always be die-hard fans and stick-in-the-muds unable to accept change and that new approaches can actually be much better. Some technologies will rise like Lazarus and be better and stronger than ever before. Apple died numerous times according to the computing press in the 80’s and 90’s. Council e-newsletters won’t die, but I believe they must fade away quickly and gracefully and be replaced by technology better suited to a modern public sector.

2019 should be the year of Performance Communication. The Government Communication Service (GCS) has long been extolling the virtues of “outcomes not outputs”, but e-newletters are definitely an output that doesn’t deliver great results for the public sector. While cheaper, faster, and arguably more efficient to produce than printed newsletters, the digital equivalent doesn’t deliver significantly better outcomes. Sure, the cost is lower, but the value most definitely isn’t greater. We need revolution not evolution.

Performance Communication focuses on outcomes. It allows you to send highly targeted communications to a carefully selected audience and delivers a measurable change in behaviour or action. Performance Communication sends information to the right person at the right time and delivers the right outcomes. Can e-newsletters do that? Really?

We have many public sector clients using the govDelivery platform to send e-newsletters; we also have many using govDelivery to deliver Performance Communications. The difference in the results is startling.

A typical govDelivery e-newsletter has an open rate of 27 percent, which is pretty awesome given the industry average is 22 percent. But that only tells part of the story. Sophisticated clients who prioritise Performance Communications are seeing their more granular, highly targeted communications and campaigns deliver open rates exceeding 60 percent with positive outcomes to match.

Want to get a pet adopted? You can send them the weekly council e-newsletter or target pet owners who like dogs with a clear call to action. It is obvious which approach has the better outcome.

E-newsletters are a digital reboot of a broadcast media and is just one small step removed from the old printed newsletters of over 50 years ago. A modern public sector needs to embrace Performance Communication to deliver the revolution that is urgently needed.