It is very difficult to imagine how any business could operate during this time without the use of the internet. The development of the internet has significantly altered the day to day operations of a business; including how they communicate with each other and their audience. Information can be easily transmitted to any destination in a matter of seconds.
The internet has become an essential tool for marketing and advertising. A business can present itself to customers with the use of a website or online advertisements. Many businesses now use the internet as a means of making customers aware of their current promotions. This can be very beneficial to businesses that are targeting a younger audience.
Creating the right image is very important to any business wishing to be a success. The internet can aid a businesses in achieving the perfect image. By having an effective website they can create the perfect web existence. Many businesses now also use social networking as a means of making themselves known to their target audience.
Communication and interaction with customers is vital to any business. The internet has ensured that this can be easily achieved. Businesses are able to communicate and interact with customers via email or instant messaging. Internet telephony such as Skype is now a popular method of communication and is used frequently by businesses in order to conduct virtual meetings with both customers and other businesses. The use of the internet also makes it easier for businesses to deliver messages to people working within the organisation.
The internet has simplified the way in which businesses collects and records information. They are able to conduct effective research by searching on the web or by using online databases. An electronic record can then made of the information gathered. Important information such as the state of the stock exchange can also be obtained.
In addition, businesses that have an international presence are able to use the internet to conduct operations and communicate with people in offices that are based in different locations around the world. Transactions and payments can now also be made online which has simplified and sped up the payment process.
Intranets are private, secured networks that are used to share information effectively within a company. The goal of an intranet is to ease communication, collaboration and document sharing for people within an organization. Intranets provide a virtual space for employees to work together, which is great for when people are spread out geographically. Overall, an intranet optimizes exiting business processes to centralize information, reduce complexity and maximize productivity.
Businesses can use intranets for a variety of reasons:
- Streamline day to day activity by making repetitive tasks easier to complete
- Improve internal communication with employee directories, company news and organization charts
- Increase employee engagement by minimizing and centralizing “locked up” information
- Collaboration is made easier as employees can share information across the board
- Provides personalized information and content to users based on role
- Provides easy access to important information including policies, benefits and company updates
- Centralize and organize company data into a single database
Why should I consider an intranet for my business?
As companies continue to become more and more decentralized, intranets are becoming increasingly important in the business landscape. Secure intranets are the fastest growing segment of the internet because they are less expensive to maintain compared to private networks. Harvard Business School conducted an ROI-engagement study that revealed for every 1% increase in employee engagement, the return on investment (ROI) for a social intranet increased 1000%.
Uses of Email in Offices
A major role of email in business communication is connecting people within the same company or organization. Emails are very frequently used to ask questions of coworkers without having to disturb them with a phone call or a tap on the shoulder. They’re used to send out meeting announcements and minutes, to distribute important forms and to conduct workplace surveys.
Many offices have various internal mailing lists that people can send messages to in order to get them to a particular unit of the company, whether that’s everyone working in human resources who might need to see a vacation policy update or everyone working on a particular floor who should know it’s a coworker’s birthday. Email is also frequently used with integrated calendar tools from providers like Microsoft and Google to schedule meetings and other events.
Email attachments are commonly used as a way to share files, from Microsoft Word documents to samples of advertising materials like logos or jingles.
People increasingly check company email on personal devices like smartphones, which enables them to stay in touch with coworkers outside the office. This can be both positive and negative: People can more easily work from home or quickly check in during a morning commute, but they also may have fewer true off-hours when not in the office.
Workplace Email Etiquette
The vital role of email in business communication makes it unsurprising that there have evolved formal and informal rules of etiquette around email.
People generally try to address emails with a certain degree of professionalism, making sure to have a clear and concise subject line that makes emails easy to spot in the inbox and paying at least some attention to grammar, spelling and capitalization. Most people try to avoid making any kind of off-color comments in company emails, including jokes in questionable taste, references to politics and religion or any jabs at their employers.
Some people also try to appear cheerful in company emails, since it’s hard to determine tone looking solely at a written message. This can be done with the use of exclamation points or emoji, although overdoing it can seem unprofessional. Generally, you’ll want to follow the lead of others in your organization when it comes to how to draft emails to coworkers or customers.
Many organizations have their own policies about email, such as requiring that a particular signature format be appended to each outgoing email. Some workplaces have policies about when, if ever, company email can be used for personal reasons. Many also have policies on when emails should be retained or deleted for security’s sake.
Automated Email Messages
Receiving automated email messages from organizations you do business with has become commonplace. Online shopping outlets send notifications of sales, purchase confirmations and updates about shipping schedules. Newspapers and other media organizations send out automated emails with headlines and story updates.
There are a variety of companies that can send automated emails for businesses, including marketing emails and those triggered by a purchase, sometimes called transactional emails. Certain laws govern when companies can store people’s email addresses, when they’re required to enable people to opt out of emails and when they can send marketing messages. Make sure you’re in compliance with the rules in your jurisdiction and, potentially, in places where people you’re emailing work or reside.
Some commercial email providers can help you manage opt-outs, subscription lists and other information. Shop around to find one that meets your needs at a price you like.
The World of Email Newsletters
Email newsletters have become increasingly popular in recent years. Some businesses use them to reach out to customers and let them know about sales, new products or existing services. For example, a pool cleaning business might send out a newsletter reminding people of its services as the summer approaches, or a podcast studio might send out email newsletters announcing a new series or new season of an existing show.
In other cases, the newsletter itself is the product. Some media organizations and other groups have had success with paid newsletters that contain information not available anywhere else. Some of these are created with specialized platforms or through crowdfunding tools such as Patreon.
As with other commercial emails, if you’re sending an email newsletter, you should make sure you have explicit consent from people you’re sending messages to and that they have an easy way to unsubscribe. You might invite people to sign up for a newsletter when they visit your site or when they complete a transaction, for example. Naturally, if you’re offering a paid newsletter, you’ll need to make sure people have an easy way to cancel their subscriptions and stop being billed.
Risks of Email Fraud
Email fraud, often known as phishing, has become prevalent in recent years. Scammers send emails to people impersonating trusted institutions or even individual coworkers, seeking to trick the recipients into sending money or providing valuable information such as usernames and passwords. In some cases, these emails are sent en masse to huge numbers of recipients, but in other cases they’re specifically targeted to particular recipients.
Malware is also sometimes distributed by email, usually through attachments or links to shady sites included in the email messages. In some cases, if the suspect file is opened, it will infect the recipient’s computer and use his or her email software to send out more copies of itself to the original recipient’s contacts.
To avoid falling victim to email scams, take a close look at the addresses that messages come fromand make sure they actually match up with the people or institutions they claim to be from. Check that any links in email go to the sites they claim to link to. If you receive an unexpected email with an attachment, check that it’s actually from the person it claims to be from, even if you need to call or otherwise message that person to confirm identity.