If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably caught on to the value an internal communications app can bring to your organization. Whether it’s employee experience, strategic alignment or simply getting the right information to the right employee at the right time, mobile apps have risen to the forefront of internal communications strategy in 2023.


📚 Before we dive into the world of internal communications apps, take a look at our article What is Communication Strategy and 5 Steps to Create Your Own.

It’s been a long journey for internal communications, which started off with the “lickers & stickers” phase of mailing information to employees by post. Since then, we’ve developed our approach to include company newsletters and even further to the almighty intranet.

All of these advancements opened up new possibilities for the internal communications function and ultimately led us here. Today, companies and employees can enjoy the perks of mobile internal communications technology, multi-channel & targeted content delivery as well as comprehensive analytics that prove the value of the function (which really has been a 25-year old challenge in internal communications).

It’s an exciting time to be an internal communicator. That said, navigating the complex internal communications technology landscape in 2023 can be rather overwhelming. There are so many different vendors and offers, which all vary quite heavily from one another. How do you pick the right one? Remember, an internal communications app is something you roll out to the entire business. You want to get it right the first time.

In this article, we’re demystifying the internal communications app space and providing some much-needed clarity for you, the buyer. Let’s dive right in.

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What are the top internal communications apps on the market?

In this article, we will look at the 5 most prominent players in the internal communications app market:

  • Haiilo
  • Firstup
  • Staffbase
  • Beekeeper
  • Poppulo
SoftwareReviews Data Quadrant for employee communications

Why are Microsoft Teams, Slack, Sharepoint and Jive not on this list?

There are many workplace technology tools out there and all of them serve different purposes. For example, there are internal chat tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams that are meant first and foremost for collaboration and instant messaging. Intranets like Sharepoint and Jive, on the other hand, are primarily made to work as file storage and news portals. The concept of the intranet dates back to the mid-90s, a time when communication needs were profoundly different. As such, Sharepoint and Jive don’t meet the requirements of a modern employee app, unlike some social intranet solutions that are suitable for knowledge workers.

While useful tools, emails and chat applications serve different purposes. Emails are a great solution when company-wide top-down communication is necessary. Chat tools, on the other hand, are good for transactional communications and collaboration between individuals. However, if you are looking to communicate news and updates to the company instantly and at scale (or to a specific segment of the business) or even ensure that the message is received and acknowledged, these tools don’t fit the bill. This is why they won’t be covered in this post.

Haiilo vs Firstup: Enterprise Internal Communications Apps for Both Corporate and Frontline Workers

We will start by comparing Firstup vs Haiilo – the two most comprehensive employee communications solutions in the market.

Both companies are mature players in the internal communications field serving some of the biggest companies in the world. Both solutions are designed to cater to both corporate and frontline workers. Additionally, both solutions include not only an internal communications app, but also allow you to deliver targeted communications through existing digital channels such as the desktop, email, chat tools, digital signage and much more. Furthermore, both include HR and operational features in their apps, such as surveys, policy documentation or even lunch menus and time tracking.

Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these internal communications apps and see how they differentiate from one another. Obviously, you are reading this on the Haiilo blog… and it was written by a Haiiloneer. In order to give you an objective understanding of these two platforms (Haiilo vs Firstup), we’re going to refer to what customers of each of these vendors had to say on G2, the world’s leading peer-to-peer software review website:

Internal communications apps ratings

The table above showcases how the two tools stack up against each other in a number of key areas. These numbers are driven by real, authentic reviews from Haiilo and Firstup customers on the G2 platform – a place where millions of software users go to rate the tools they use in their daily life.

G2 uses a proprietary algorithm to calculate real-user satisfaction ratings. Let us take you through that table and discuss each metric in more detail.

Meets Requirements

Enterprise companies have very specific lists of features and integrations they are looking for in the solutions they purchase, and these lists normally include hundreds of points they are looking to tick off before moving on to purchasing. As you can see all three providers have 8+ ratings in this category with Haiilo ranked at 8.9 and Firstup at 8.5.

Haiilo works with companies such as Salesforce, KPMG and Vodafone Spain, all of which have an extensive and well-documented vendor selection process. These companies, as well as the other 350+ Haiilo customers across a multitude of verticals, are a testament to the maturity of the platform and its proven ability to support the needs of multinational corporations with thousands of employees.

Ease of Use

Ease of Use is a very important metric when it comes to internal communications apps. It relates to how easy it is for the end user to learn to interact with the software, which in turn directly affects the most difficult part of introducing a new software – user adoption.

Let’s see how Haiilo vs Firstup compare against each other in this category: Haiilo has a score of 9.5, while Firstup ranks at 8.7.

Haiilo takes usability very seriously, providing an intuitive interface that is easy to interact with regardless of how tech-savvy you are:

“Haiilo is easy to use, even if you are not digitally savvy. Creating a post, sharing, checking statistics – everything runs smoothly, and the whole process is just so simple and well organized. The ability to subscribe to channels is great, so that you are only getting the relevant content delivered to you and if you want to share sth, it just takes a few clicks.”

Dennis E, Enterprise(> 1000 emp.)

Ease of Setup & Ease of Admin

These two metrics relate to the admin side of things. Introducing an internal communications app at an enterprise company is a process involving a multitude of stakeholders: your internal communications function, your IT department, and, depending on your objectives, your marketing and HR functions.

The better score the software has in the Ease of Setup category – the easier it is to get your tech team on board with purchasing the new internal communications app. So what do the scores in this category look like for Haiilo vs Firstup? Haiilo’s ranking here is 9.1, while Firstup – 7.9.

At the same time, a high score in the Ease of Admin category means that internal communications professionals and other stakeholders involved in content production and distribution will not have any trouble working with the software. Here Haiilo’s rating is 9.3, while Firstup ranks at 8.3.

Let’s take a look at what customers are saying about Haiilo from an admin perspective:

“Haiilo is easy to use. It is very easy for our employees to use Haiilo and find relevant content within the channel structure. As an admin I love the analytics. This makes it very easy to see the impact Haiilo has.”

Tessa W, Enterprise(> 1000 emp.)

If you’re anything like most of the internal comms teams we speak with, proving your impact on the business is important. That’s why Haiilo has gone above and beyond to develop an analytics platform that not only reports what’s going on with your communications, but also gives actionable insights on how to improve. That means giving you specific actions that move the needle on key business initiatives.

Quality of Support and Ease of Doing Business With

These two categories refer to how easy it is to work with the provider during the purchasing process and how well customers are supported once the setup is complete. We all know that the launch of the new internal communications app is just the beginning of the journey towards high employee engagement, which is why it’s vital to look for a long-term partner that will support you along the way.

Let’s see how Haiilo vs Firstup compare against each other in the Quality of Support category: Haiilo has a score of 9.3, Firstup ranks at 8.6. At the same time, in the Ease of Doing Business With section, Haiilo’s rating is 9.2 vs 9.0 for Firstup.

Haiilo is committed to your success from day one. All our plans include your own dedicated customer success manager available to you by phone or email. Our customer success managers liaison between other Haiilo internal support agencies, including strategic, development, integration and creative specialists to ensure a smooth launch. After the launch regular review sessions are arranged to cover how your program is performing against KPIs set during implementation as well as recommendations on how to improve.

“Every Account Manager I’ve had at Haiilo has been incredible, they are highly intelligent and friendly people to work with.”

Administrator in Consumer Electronics, Mid-Market (51-1000 emp.).

a quote from consumer electronics

Product Direction

Product direction is a very important metric to consider when purchasing an internal communications app. An internal communications app is a relatively new type of product and there’s a lot of development happening in the employee communications sector with companies constantly striving to find more efficient ways to communicate with their employees.

A high score in the Product Direction category means that the software provider is doing a good job at taking their customers where they want to go by introducing the features customers appreciate. In this category Haiilo has a score of 8.2, while Firstup ranks at 8.0.

Staffbase vs Beekeeper: Internal Communications Apps for Frontline Workers

Now let’s look at other players in the internal communications field: Staffbase vs Beekeeper. Unlike the three internal communications apps mentioned above, which cater to both frontline and corporate employees, Staffbase and Beekeeper are targeted solely or at least very heavily at deskless workers.


Staffbase was founded in 2014 as a mobile-first employee communications platform. In order to support full employee journeys and experiences, the platform evolved over time to also offer plugins such as surveys, event planning, learning resources, chat and an employee directory.

This internal communications app enables frontline workers to stay up-to-date with company updates. With the Staffbase platform admins are able to create, design and publish content in one place. It also enables admins to alert employees about the most important updates with push or email notifications.


Founded in 2012, Beekeeper positions itself as the essential platform for frontline workers. Beekeeper provides managers with automated onboarding workflows and engagement analytics.

Beekeeper connects deskless workers across locations and departments via mobile or desktop devices. Users can send group messages, conduct surveys, and share news with one another. This internal communications app also has a built-in chat messenger which allows users to share documents, images, videos, and links with their peers.

🎧Listen to our podcast to learn more on engaging frontline workers:

Poppulo vs Staffbase: Email Communications Tools

Lastly, let’s take a look at Poppulo vs Staffbase, and specifically at the use of email as the main communication channel.


Founded in 1996, Poppulo was originally established under the name Newsweaver. Their main focus was helping internal communications teams deliver visually appealing company newsletters via email. They were rebranded to Poppulo in 2017.

Poppulo enables communicators to easily create roundups of company news and support leadership communications through email. In 2018, Poppulo added a mobile app to their offer, further strengthening their position in the market. Since then, they have been focused on delivering improvements and updates to the app.


Before getting acquired by Staffbase, there was Bananatag founded in 2012. This platform was meant for supporting employee communicators in creating emails through a simple drag-and-drop interface that integrates with the company’s email client and distribution lists.

Currently as part of Staffbase, Bananatag enables communicators to build custom distribution lists, and measure engagement with their emails to improve internal communications. They also offer integrations with user management tools like Workday and Azure to simplify the process of customizing the distribution lists.

This extension is best suited for companies that use emails as their primary tool for communication with their employees.

Internal Communications Apps: What’s Best For You?

As you can see, all the internal communications tools mentioned above serve slightly different purposes and each of them can be a good fit for your company depending on your objectives. All of them have professional teams behind them and are very successful in the market.

📚Read on: The Emerging Market for Employee Communications Applications.

The toughest part in navigating the internal communications app technology landscape is to understand how these vendors differentiate from one another. In the end, the one that’s best for your company comes down to the channels in which you need to make your communications available for employees, the types of employees you’re communicating with (corporate, frontline or both) and the extent to which you’re looking to use communications data as a driver for your business decisions.

If you would like to hear more about how Haiilo can help reach all your employees, from frontline to corporate, with targeted communications – we’d be happy to chat.

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