E-mail Overload: A Solution

Are the e-mail messages you send to internal staff still marked as “unread”? Are new product announcements, policy memos, and other critical corporate information ignored by your employees?

If so, your company may be at the tipping point where even the most diligent employees can no longer keep up with their e-mail inboxes.

What then? Sysco, the giant food-service corporation, found a solution for communicating with its 10,000 marketing associates in a more targeted way.

The company has over 80 business units. As a result, marketing associates’ inboxes were jammed with innumerable messages from corporate, unit managers, and vendors — sometimes with contradictory information. No one had time to plow through all these messages, so many were unopened.

To solve the problem, Sysco used Performance Communications Group’s (PCG’s) Internet Secured Application Technology (ISAT) to create a secure, multimedia microsite.

The site, called Sysco Blue Cube to reflect the company’s branding, has 10 tabs that correlate to Sysco’s main business lines, such as frozen food, beverage, and dairy. The content is password protected, but you can look at the first page.

Marketing associates need only check the tab for their product lines — and, in fact, are required to as part of their regular job responsibilities — to find new information relevant to their work.

The site’s more than 100 screens are updated weekly with reports, spreadsheets, sales collateral, and multimedia material. Because ISAT technology uses up to 80 percent less bandwidth than regular HTML, Sysco can offer employees higher-value content, such as vendor demos, said Scott Madlener, PCG’s EVP of interactive strategy. Vendors are happy to supply this video content because they know Sysco Blue Cube’s high employee compliance rates guarantee viewership, he said.

The Blue Cube site has a high internal viewership and is secure from outside eyes. Employees must use a password to access the site and are prevented from forwarding information outside the organization. And because ISAT technology is portable, it can be used not only on Sysco’s corporate site but also on each operating unit’s site.

What does it take to publish 100 pages for 10 tabs on a weekly basis plus administrative duties such as new-user authentication? While four Sysco employees share responsibility for the site, the total workload only amounts to one full-time person.

Since the information is controlled internally, there are no worries about contradictory e-mail coming from different internal sources. All the information is catalogued for reference and updated regularly.

Though Sysco Blue Cube is still in its pilot stage, 3,300 marketing associates have signed up, the site has just published its 27th issue, and over 1,000 marketing associates log in weekly. That’s pretty good compliance compared to the company’s previous e-mail performance.

But how do you remind the marketing associates to log on to the site? By e-mail, of course! There just doesn’t seem to be any way to totally get around it yet. However, ISAT e-mail messages have the Blue Cube site embedded in it, so at least one step is eliminated.

How is your company dealing with inbox overload? Send your case studies to Karen for a future column.

Join us for the ClickZ Specifics: E-mail Marketing seminar on May 14 at the Marriott, San Francisco.

Want more e-mail marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our e-mail columns, organized by topic.

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