Yammer 105: Making Yammering Effortless

I have found that when we introduce new electronic tools to the workplace, the adoption and usage varies inversely with the amount of effort required. There also is a significant direct relationship to the perceived benefit, but the basic questions are:

  1. How difficult is this going to be?
  2. How much do I need to change what I’m already doing?
  3. What’s in it for me?
  4. What’s in it for us as a group?

The first two questions can trump the others. No matter the payoff, if it’s too much of a change or is perceived as too difficult, you won’t reach the critical mass of users that will make the answer to #4 compelling.

When it comes to politics, it seems we all want change. But in the workplace we like our routine.

If individuals can see a personal benefit that doesn’t depend on everyone else also adopting the technology, that can help the adoption get started. And if that adoption can draw others along, so that they contribute to the greater good with very little modification of their current routine, well…

That’s change we can believe in.


Everyone uses email at work. Everyone complains about getting too much of it. If a tool can reduce unwanted and irrelevant email messages while still giving you access to the information if you later need it, that would be a great value, wouldn’t it? And if you could mostly use it right from your email client (i.e. Microsoft Outlook, Entourage or Apple Mail), wouldn’t that make the burden of questions 1 and 2 almost nonexistent?

This post is mainly intended for my work colleagues, who are part of my Yammer network. But SMUGgles can learn from the basic concepts and apply them to your networks (although the links I provide to make it easy for my work colleagues to join and follow tags will not work for you.)

Five Steps to Making Yammer Effortless

1. Sign up for Yammer using your work e-mail address. This is covered in more detail in Yammer 101.

2. Make your E-Mail Settings tab look like this:

This will ensure that you get e-mail notices of new posts from any people you are following and for any tags (or topics) you follow. To cut down on unnecessary email, I suggest that you de-select requiring confirmation of posts via email and notification of new messages you post via email.

3. Follow tags that interest you or that are relevant to your work

For our Medical Edge team, follow #medical-edge

For our media relations staff, follow #media-relations, #press-call-alert and #story-idea

For our Social Media team, follow #social-media-team

How do you follow tags? Click the relevant link and once there, click the blue “Follow” button as you see in the example below:

4. When you want to send a message to other staff who are interested in these topics, instead of deciding what email distribution list to use, Yammer instead using the relevant tags.

In this way, everyone who has followed the tag will get an email. You don’t have to pick a distribution list. The users have self-selected.

In addition to the main tags that refer to the interest group that should receive the message, feel free to add any other tags that would help you find the message later. Creating a tag is as simple as putting a # in front of a #word or #phrase-joined-by-hyphens.

Once you have done the set-up in Yammer, which takes about five minutes, this is the only step that involves any change from the way you currently exchange information by email. You’re just using Yammer instead of a distribution list. And I would suggest that this is even easier than email, because you can just get to the point and the format doesn’t encourage rambling messages.

5. When you get an e-mail message from Yammer relating to one of your tags, if you have something to say, just reply via e-mail as you normally would.

Yammer will log your response and will send it to everyone else. You don’t need to log into Yammer and post your response there. Just send a plain old-fashioned e-mail reply, and Yammer will take care of the rest. Your message will become part of the thread…as the recorded customer service messages say, “in the order it was received.” The entire conversation and its resolution is archived for reference.

6. Read messages you get from Yammer, and then delete them. You don’t need to save messages, because if you later need them you can search for them within Yammer.

For more background on Yammer check out the full Yammer curriculum.

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Advanced Email Strategies to Boost Response Rates

John Harrison from Yesmail led this discussion. Among the measures the experienced email marketers in this group look at are Open rate, click-through, opt-in rates, channels they came through, time spent of site, net gain or loss of subscribers, what do the campaigns do to opt-out rate of a contact stream.

Conversion metrics typically used include new registrations, downloading a PDF, or whatever the objective of the campaign was. It all depends on the goal. Another organization has used inferred means, such as purchases over time. People who have more interaction with their email have been shown to have higher value.

Some have used email to test messaging for direct mail marketing. Intuit, for example, matches customer registrations (about 70 percent of purchasers register) against their email and direct mail history, to see whether people have gone online to purchase or purchased in a store.

Generic rental lists of email addresses typically have bad response rates. If companies have advertised with a magazine, however, renting that subscription list may be better. It’s important to scrub against your house list to be sure you’re not spamming. The key is to create a value proposition that causes them to register to become part of your house list. If it costs $200 per customer to acquire a customer through other marketing channels (e.g. TV or direct mail), a list rental may be cost-effective. It will never match the performance of your house list.

Email Strategies – John listed several subject areas to consider. We didn’t get to all of them, but if people have ideas to add in the comments, I know others would be glad to hear them.

Contact/Frequency — Ranges may be 3-5 times per month at max. Companies centralize management of the list to prevent various marketing groups from contacting the same people. For people who have requested a specific category of updates, they can get more than the basic rule would allow. Others are once per 30 days unless they have opted in.



Subject Lines — From address and Subject Line are overlooked elements, and should be user-friendly and tied to your brand. Purpose of the From address is brand and recognition. If you do that right you can have more flexibility with the subject line. The only purpose of the subject line is to get someone to open the message.

Creative — Gerber, for instance, does a series of Baby Center emails based on pregnancy phase, sending emails during each week letting expectant moms know what to expect. Petsmart created a Pet-of-the-Month contest to integrate into its email messages.



Emerging Media — Widgets branded for Desktop, RSS, SMS, Mobile delivery, social networks. Adoption of RSS is slow, limited mainly to geeks. Email is a glue that holds other channels together. It’s one thing that everyone “gets.” Even the social network sites have email notification options. That’s one reason they work well, because those who aren’t constantly living in Facebook get alerts through email or by text message.

Time to market/getting an email out the door — Political campaigns are great at timeliness, whereas some businesses can take weeks to take advantage of a timely opportunity.