Although they are “just” for your own employees, internal email newsletters shouldn’t be taken for granted. They serve an important role in companies or organizations so they should be thoughtfully crafted. They can be effective communication tools as such, it’s important to learn how to best do internal email newsletters.
Things you should know about Internal Email Newsletters:
- Objectives of Internal Email Newsletters
- Elements of Effective Employee Email Newsletters
- Pointers for Writing Better Internal Email Newsletters
- Recommended Internal Newsletter Content
- Engaging Readers Through Feedback
Objectives of Internal Email Newsletters
Before going into the discussion on how to come up with excellent internal email newsletters, it’s important to know what the objectives of these newsletters are and what elements define them.
Why do we want to send internal newsletters to your employees? The following are the main reasons why they are so willingly used in various departments, such as Human Resources or Employer Branding, and organizations in general:
- To inform. Email newsletters circulated within a company are used to distribute information intended for effected employees in the company. With information that is relevant and useful for targeted departments and employees – even regardless of hierarchical rankings.
- To break down silos. Aside from distributing relevant information for everyone in a company, email newsletters can also be used as tools to encourage camaraderie among employees, who normally don’t have a strong everyday belonging feeling as they might be separated by cubicles, team designations, or departmental assignments.
- Provide framing and an external narrative. All employees also have their own families, friends, and social circles. So explaining why companies do things and giving them an easy way to be proud and spread the word, can be a very strong catalyst for word-of-mouth.
- To reduce email overload. Instead of sending multiple notices, announcements, or acknowledgments to various departments and employee groups, a company can make use of internal email newsletters as a more efficient distribution of information.
- To supplement other forms of communications. Email newsletters can be used to present company information as reference for various purposes. For instance, they can be used to announce or acknowledge the achievements of a specific team or department in addition to the departmental commendation, intranet, and bulletin board posting.
Elements of Effective Employee Email Newsletters
To write effective internal email newsletters, the following elements should be taken into account:
- Target audience.
Internal newsletters have a fixed target audience – internal company employees. This sounds simple but it isn’t. What do they want to hear about and are interested in? If you have a big company or very diverse interests represented, think about adding segmentation for instance on departmental level. This doesn’t have to be separate.
- Content relevance.
All email newsletters should be written to serve a purpose. So mix and match the content with the above mentioned objectives. From the reader’s perspective: after employees have read the email (and acted on it) they should feel that they did not waste their time or the email marketing engagement will plummet a few newsletters in.
- Format and presentation.
As much as possible, a consistent format should be adopted to make newsletters familiar and easy to read / digest for everyone within the company. It’s inadvisable to keep changing the layout, style, and overall presentation of internal newsletters. Use a template, why not do some grid style planning on it. Getting it right once can save a lot of effort.
- Tone or style.
The used tone and style depends you should use depends mostly on what the company or organization decides to stand for and sound like. It’s important to pick a style that suits the company, something that also will make the newsletters engaging and appealing to the target readers. A company like Toys R Us might want to pick a different tone than a Starbucks, and these would differ quite dramatically from law firm, non-profit, or governmental , for instance.It can be light-hearted or more stern and formal. We often speak about company culture, an internal newsletter is one of the tangible “representatives” of company culture.
Pointers for Writing Better Internal Email Newsletters
The objectives and elements mentioned above give an idea of how the most effective internal email newsletters are to be written. They have been taken into account and guide the writing and delivery of successful internal email newsletters.
- Ensure that the information presented is complete. Readers should not feel like they were only being teased. Internal newsletters are not school learning material either: try to be complete. The level of needed information however might be smaller than you might expect. Of course linking to – for instance – the intranet for further info is great. Or a reference “ask X at department Y for more information” can be a good way to encourage interdepartmental contact and dialog.
- Keep internal newsletters simple.There is no contest for brevity here so don’t interpret conciseness as the compulsion to have short sentences or paragraphs. Newsletters should demonstrate a sense of fluidity so reading them appears natural. The point in making things concise and simple is avoiding. People skip the info altogether. Especially think about re-writing that CEO text (they do love their intro’s!) a few times to make it better. Bear in mind that everyone in the company (should be?) busy and will not always have the luxury of time to read wordy and long-winded newsletters.
- Make newsletters engaging and empowering. Readers should be reading internal newsletters because they find them interesting or engaging, not because the boss demands them to do so. Top-down demanding is just not the best way to do it and certainly not the most effective. It doesn’t feel right. There is nothing wrong in making the emails engaging enough to create a habit of reading them.
To make newsletters engaging, it is advisable to use a conversational or casual tone. Unless it’s a company policy, it’s not required to be formal in writing. They are often not as official company or organization correspondence so you have some leeway for making them interesting and engaging.
Moreover, to make newsletters engaging, consider using creativity or humor in the presentation. When reporting about a recently held company event, for example, instead of delivering the details in straight news form, try adding in some humor-laced comments along with candid photos.
If a specific department or project team achieves a commendable feat, the newsletters can be used to acknowledge them to let other employees know of what they have accomplished and to make them serve as an inspiration.
There are some more recommended newsletter topics that are likely to engage readers at the end of this article.
- Try to make use of visuals whenever applicable. Imagine reading something that looks like lengthy blocks of black text on white background. It will unlikely encourage you to continue reading. Compare that to reading something with photos or even stock illustrations inserted. Reading experience with imagery is 100% better. Visuals are particularly recommended when writing about boring facts and corporate updates. Depending on your tone-of-voice, your own pictures (non-stock) featuring the in-house employees always do better.
- Observe propriety. Creativity and some humor make newsletters better but it’s important to always bear propriety in mind. Being appropriate is expected in all types of organization communication. When reporting about layoffs or poor company performance, for example, humor is certainly out of the question. It might go without saying, but it’s not right to make fun of unfortunate events and to make fun of a specific employee or department for the sake of making the newsletter engaging.
- Keep improving. – A/B testing is a form of experiment to determine tweaks that can enhance the results of a project or campaign. There are a number of other email newsletter tests you can consider. In doing internal email newsletters, think mostly about the subject lines and the type of topics. Of course the changes or tweaks that received the most favorable KPI’s / statistics will likely be used for succeeding newsletters. But next to the numbers, quality feedback is also important, you can just walk up to your colleagues and ask or do it in form of an employee questionnaire.
Recommended Internal Newsletter Content
Newsletters can have both business and non-business types of content. Obviously, both types have to be treated differently. It’s important to always keep them interesting and engaging like mentioned before, so you might want to go for a mix.
For business-related content, the following are the typical topics you could include:
- product or service updates and developments,
- innovations related to the business or industry the company is involved in,
- changes in the company’s leadership and personnel,
- updates about competitors,
- news on initiatives being started in the company,
- details of possible benefit plans and wellness programs within the company,
- intra-company and industry surveys,
- details on job vacancies or training opportunities,
- resource updates (especially those related to IT and HR), and
- messages from the CEO or president.
Bad news affecting the company or the employees should also be considered to be included. They may not excite readers but they are very important information everyone in the company should know.
For non-business topics inspiration for content is:
- competitions within the company or participated by members of the company,
- details on social or outreach events, tips and guides for employees,
- updates on perks or promos (not necessarily offered by the company),
- articles on company celebrations,
- jokes and interesting stories, essays, and
- letters to the editor or employee-contributed articles.
Viral social media posts may also be occasionally covered. Some organizations would allow light blind items or rumors to be included in the newsletters, but it’s probably better to avoid those. Generally, they tend to create tension. It takes a great deal of experience and expertise to properly balance the attributes of being interesting and offensive.
Newsletters can have recurring types of content. Many readers tend to like the sense of familiarity they have with them. However, it’s important to keep to renew your newsletter and keep it fresh. If a news section is being regularly published, don’t be afraid to use content that has also been published somewhere else. But it is even better to link the post to the company or employees and “make it your own”.
Engaging Readers Through Feedback
The content is not the only way to engage newsletter readers. It is also possible to attract reader interest through other means. For instance when starting out, run a contest on naming the newsletter. Reader feedback can be collected by linking a web form or maybe just a thumbs up and thumbs down feedback (through two links at the bottom) is good to get a general feel for how people judge your latest send.
In writing effective internal email newsletters, it is essential to have appropriate content that fits with your objectives and with a consistent format and an engaging and empowering tone. These are often different from your marketing mails and the objectives serve as guides on how their email marketing strategy should be constructed. They justify and answer the “why” you want to send those engaging newsletters.
Writing newsletters isn’t serious journalism or creative writing either, but when you are trying to engage the whole company, it’s inevitable to try doing different things every once in a while. Share with us in the comments below how you plan your employee newsletters!
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