Employee newsletters send through email are a golden opportunity to get everyone in your organization on the same page. Combining important updates with motivational bits of company culture, the best employee newsletters communicate pertinent information in a digestible way. Enticing employees to read through to the end – or even open the email in the first place – is easier said than done.
According to the Washington Post, most corporate employees spend way too much time checking their email, and your busy employees will be tempted to skip the newsletter altogether if it isn’t engaging. Get your teams’ attention and elevate your newsletter from uninspired to an engrossing read.
Here are a few tips for making an employee newsletter they actually look forward to.
Keep Newsletters Concise
The wordier your email, the less likely your employees with a full workload will have time to digest the information. If you are composing newsletters for an organization with hundreds (or thousands) of employees, you may have ten full stories or more to include in your newsletter.
One way to guarantee that the relevant recipients read each story is to write a headline and a short blurb that’s no more than three short sentences. That way readers can know what new positions are available, when the holiday picnic is happening, and how the rollout of your new product is going in less than a minute. Include links to longer feature stories after the blurb so employees have the option to circle back and read them in full later. Most of us will skim when we see a huge block of text – if we don’t skip it altogether.
When writing an employee newsletter stick to these two simple rules:
- Keep sentence lengths to 25 words or fewer
- Each paragraph should contain 3 sentences maximum
Develop a Voice
Choosing the right voice and striking the right tone in your employee newsletter will make even mundane information, like benefits updates or personnel changes, enjoyable to read. Even an organization with a professional, formal persona can use language that connects with readers and tells a story.
Think of a successful employee newsletter like a TED Talk — even when the foremost experts in their field give a presentation they are warm, engaging, and relatable. You do not have to sacrifice professionalism in order to write content your employees will love to read. Some company cultures will naturally lend themselves to casual and humorous newsletters, but properly vet your writer before committing to a distinct and colorful voice. Attempts to write irreverent, humorous newsletters can turn off employees if the quality is not consistent.
And beyond the word play and pop culture references, remember that your top priority is to inform your employees about company news. Consider your target audience — your employees — and what they would respond to.
Consider your employee newsletter a living, breathing organism — with the right care it can constantly grow! A great way to convince employees to take a few minutes out of their day to read your newsletter is to request feedback or ask a question at the end of your newsletter.
Use Google Forms to attach a survey to an employee newsletter. Seeking employee feedback and allowing them to make company decisions transforms a newsletter from a bulletin to an actionable task on their agenda. Questions can be utilitarian — “Where would you like the company picnic to be this year?” — and they can be creative — “If your department had an animated mascot, what would they be?” Making your employee newsletter interactive will optimize open rate and read rate. Include questions like “Is this newsletter too short, too long, or just right?” Ask what types of content employees want to see, and what format they prefer. Adjust your design choices based on the feedback you receive.
Plain Text vs HTML Emails
Most modern employee newsletter templates structure content around visuals and graphics. Including a relevant photo like a candid of employees working on a new project contextualizes each story. However, don’t count out a traditional plain text email format. Even though respondents to a survey from HubSpot claimed that a HTML-rich email is preferable to a plain text email, every time plain text and HTML emails were A/B tested the plain text version saw higher open rates and click through rates. The HTML emails were properly coded — this simply seemed to be an indicator of preference.
Keep in mind, this data was collected for email marketing from brands. An employee newsletter is a unique circumstance, and employees may be more compelled to read your content when accompanied by arresting images or videos.
Employee Newsletter Templates
So how do you visually structure your newsletter to maximize engagement? Here are some winning template options:
Instagram Feed Newsletter
This type of employee newsletter format is a natural fit for tech leaders and software companies. The idea is simple: Mimic the social media feed of Instagram, with each story in your newsletter represented by a photo and a caption that serves as the blurb for the story. You can include a large amount of content that is still readable because recipients will naturally keep scrolling.
The key elements you need are engaging and properly-sized images and text formatting consistency. With a few clicks you can format the images in your newsletter so that they’re all the same size. Resize your images in Shutterstock Editor before you begin building the newsletter in order to lay the groundwork for this template.
Within Shutterstock Editor select Open Designs to import your own images, or click and drag your desired image onto the Editor canvas from your desktop. Click the Search tab on the left-hand sidebar to browse the millions of royalty-free images available at Shutterstock. Click the Preset Sizes tab on the left-hand side of the Editor and click Instagram Post to automatically size your image, or just input your own dimensions.
Story Card Newsletter
This template allows you to segment content by category, which is ideal for longform newsletters with plenty of information. For this layout, create square or rectangular story cards that are all the same size. Stack them one at a time, and include a category heading that is formatted the same across story cards.
Within the story cards you can include one, two, or even three columns in each section to fit up to three stories in each category without creating a cluttered visual presentation. This design allows your newsletter to flow and prevents employees from getting overwhelmed.
Top 10 Newsletter
This template turns your employee newsletter into a fun listicle. When you opt for this layout you make a visual promise to your employees that they can absorb all the information they need in 10 digestible bullet points or short paragraphs, minimizing the number of employees who avoid reading it completely.
Depending on your resources you can include a one-sentence snippet for each of the 10 items and link to the content, or just try to keep the information concise if you opt for a plain text email. Avoid the temptation to stack more exciting news at the top. Sprinkle in administrative details like changes in benefits or overtime information throughout your top 10 so readers get to the end of the list before clicking away.
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Cover image via MicroOne