Auto-generated Internal Newsletters in SharePoint: Here’s How
Effective internal communication relies heavily on having clear structures and practices in place. Sending email is still the main way to share content with employees – and it still takes a lot of time to do it right. Unsurprisingly, companies have been looking to automate this process as much as possible.
The Problem With Internal Newsletter Automation
Email automation is commonly associated with email marketing, i.e., emails sent to potential or existing customers. These emails generally fall into two groups:
- Trigger emails are automatically sent based on visitor’s / subscriber’s / customer’s behaviour (welcome email, abandoned cart email, refer-to-a-friend email etc.)
- Drip-feed emails deliver sequential messages based on a timeframe. They are most commonly used to communicate with subscribers who have signed up for free content, and their goal is to encourage taking the next step in the sales funnel.
Notably, both email types are targeted at audiences outside the company. Putting emails like that on autopilot is relatively easy because you only have to set them up once.
Now, have you heard about fully automated internal email campaigns?
Probably not yet – and there are good reasons for that.
Sure, it has been possible to automate some aspects of internal newsletters for a long time (e.g., using templates, schedules or recipient list auto-update). But it is a far cry from a set-and-forget-type scenario.
The challenge that internal communications specialists face here is two-fold. First, they have to create new relevant content for their colleagues monthly, weekly, or sometimes even daily. Furthermore, they have to transfer that content into newsletters. Perhaps surprisingly, this process still boils down to good old copy-paste or drag-and-drop, at best.
IT brings new ways to automate even the most context-sensitive processes – such as internal communication.
Now, it is safe to say that there isn’t an app in the world that can create meaningful content for internal communications automatically. But wouldn’t it be great to have software that could grab content from various sources and insert it into an email all by itself?
That is partially why we created JungleMail and JungleMail for Office 365. To put simply, these products can automatically populate an email with content from specified SharePoint or Office 365 content sources. Let’s see how organizations can use JungleMail to fully automate internal email campaigns.
Introducing Dynamic Content
Typical sources of internal communication content in SharePoint and Office 365 are:
- company news (announcements, people news, status updates etc.),
- blog posts,
- calendar events.
Depending on SharePoint platform type and version, these content sources may have different names, pathways, and layout. However, in general, they are all variations of either SharePoint lists or libraries – and you can make them show up in your newsletter automatically via Dynamic Content.
Dynamic Content is a unique feature of JungleMail and JungleMail for Office 365 that establishes a link between a specified part of email template (i.e., an individual block or the whole section) and a SharePoint list or library.
Enabling Dynamic Content in JungleMail is straightforward:
1. Open JungleMail campaign builder, select recipients and template;
2. Select a section and make it Dynamic with a single click;
3. Select a SharePoint list for automated content generation;
4. Insert a block in the section. Then, in the right panel, choose a column from the Sharepoint list that you want to use in that block.
All set! As you can see in the screenshot below, once you specify a SharePoint list for Dynamic Content, you can further filter that content by list view and by the columns in that view. You can also set sending conditions to make sure that newsletters will be sent only if there is news to tell (you can find a more detailed Dynamic Content tutorial here).
Note: JungleMail for Office 365 can only access site collections where it has been previously added as an app. Lists on another site collection (different from the one the app has been launched on) can be accessed by specifying source URL in the Content List field instead of using Browse feature.
Why Automate at All?
In short, Dynamic Content relieves internal communications specialists of necessity to manually insert new content into internal newsletters. Adding images, texts, and setting up links in a newsletter can take anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour, especially if the content is scattered across multiple SharePoint lists and libraries. JungleMail can do that for you in no time at all.
But even more powerful is the combo of Dynamic Content and recurring campaigns. Like many other internal email solutions, JungleMail lets you schedule newsletter campaigns and repeat them as often as needed. On top of that, you have auto-generated email content and sending conditions to make sure this content is meaningful.
In other words, with JungleMail you can truly set it and forget it – and the advantages don’t end here. Internal email automation, combined with Dynamic Content, helps:
- Save hours of manual work spent creating newsletters every week,
- Increase personalization (e.g., by auto-inserting recipient’s name),
- Reduce the likelihood of mistakes in newsletter content.
That said, the content itself will not appear in those SharePoint lists out of thin air. But having the right automation tools in place allows communicators to focus more on content creation, optimization, and, ultimately, employee satisfaction.