The best employee newsletters don’t wake up that way

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When done right, newsletters can be the perfect vehicles for reaching your employees.
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They can highlight the most important company updates, brand-pleasing talking points your team can share with friends and social circles, and cool stories that help them feel more connected to your organization. The best part is all that information is together in one neat, little package – delivered right into the hands of employees.

When you do them well, your people will be looking forward to their regular newsletter.

But that’s the challenge, right? They don’t happen on their own. And the very best ones don’t just wake up that way. To get them just right, be prepared to roll up your sleeves – and get a little creative.

Here are some tips and tricks that will make your newsletters rise and shine.

Start with the ‘why’

What do you want this newsletter to help you accomplish? Take a close look at your company objectives and make sure that what you’re sharing in each edition is aligned with those larger goals. Are you hoping to educate employees on the latest product releases? Showcase social good and endeavors in the community? Recognize those who go above and beyond expectations? If you can’t get the content to line up with your broader mission and company values, it’s just noise. So, make sure what you’re sharing is on-point. Think of each newsletter as a chapter in a book that you want your employees to devour.

Stick to a format that employees like and trust

Offering consistency is crucial when mapping out your newsletter strategy. People crave familiarity. That’s why you should set a regular newsletter schedule – and stick to it. Having an established format will also help set expectations for employees, so they know what they’re getting into when they open the newsletter. They should know how much time it will take to read it.  Don’t try to cram too much into one edition and then skimp on the next. Keep the design and copy inviting with creative images and compelling headlines. But don’t overdo it because the goal is to have employees quickly skim the information and click into the updates or stories that appeal most to them to learn more. Like most things in life, it’s important to strike a balance. Consistency isn’t the same thing as boring. Don’t be afraid to add elements of mystery and even playfulness to inspire people to open your newsletter. Try to walk that fine line.

Offer the big picture, but consider deep dives too

Newsletters are great for curating content from different areas throughout the company and providing employees a broader view that breaks down the walls that often stand between divisions and roles. They can bring all the things your employees care about into one place, including leadership messages, product announcements, benefits information, and memorable stories that happen while employees are on the job. But don’t limit your options to a one-size-fits-all newsletter. Consider offering several subscription-based newsletters that enable employees to delve into topics most important to them. Some ideas include job openings, training opportunities, competitive updates, community service initiatives, and social gatherings. Provide employees with the opportunity to dive into the topics that interest them most.

Give them a reason to open it, right now!

While it might be easier on your team to go with a standard such as the “Weekly Review” style of newsletter title, that kind of subject line might get old fast. It might seem like a small thing, but that headline is the only thing standing between the awesome content in your newsletter and the employee who decides whether or not it’s worth opening. (There’s a reason why tabloid newspapers are the masters of eye-catching headlines and humorous puns.) So, it’s worth carving out a little extra time to customize your title.

If you’re a Firstup platform user, try creating an alias that can carry the branded newsletter name so your title can draw attention to the biggest stories in your newsletter. For example, the post could come from an alias such as “In the Mix” and your title/headline could read something like: “Office moves, competitive clues, and why IT Security is singing the blues.”

Get creative! Grab some good examples from external newsletters such as Thrillist or the Medium Daily Digest. Both are known for consistently coming through with must-read headlines. Here are eight recent gems – followed by ways they might be tweaked for employee newsletters:

  1. 6 New Podcasts That Will Be Your Next Obsession
    6 New Product Features That Will Be Our Customers’ Next Obsession
  2. The Secret Behind the Perfect Steak
    The Secret Behind the Perfect Regional Meeting Experience
  3. Every Netflix Original Series, Ranked
    Every Employee Survey Revelation, Ranked
  4. Everything We Know About Apple’s New Streaming Service
    Everything We Know About the Merger with Acme
  5. This Vegas School Will Train You to be a Superhero
    This Manager Development Course Will Train You to be a Superhero
  6. This Time, It’s Personal
    This Time, CEO Deborah Lee Says, It’s Personal
  7. Implementing User Insights: How to Get Started in a Single Morning
    Introducing the New Expense Platform: How to Get Started in 10 Minutes
  8. Read This When You’ve Had a Bad Day
    Read This When You Wonder If You’re Making a Difference in the Lives of Our Patients

Consider the content mix

Newsletters that are all business do not reflect the fullness and rich fabric of our workplaces. People want to read and learn about their colleagues as well as programs. Consider a mix of 80 percent educational/informative and 20 percent recognition and fun. Toss in some team spotlights, employee-submitted photos, heartwarming stories that happen on the job, and irresistible tips and secrets designed for employee-eyes only. Think about how your newsletter can capture the spirit, essence, and people of your workplace.

Look back to drive forward

The best way to know where you should be going is to think about where you’ve already been. Once your newsletter is out the door, block some time to analyze readership and call-to-action data to measure its impact. Create a quick poll or survey to gather additional input. At some point, maybe consider bringing together small groups of employees – those who regularly read the newsletter, and those who don’t – to find out what you might change to meet their needs better. What do they want? Go back to your original intent (the “why”) to see if your newsletters are helping you align employees with overall organizational objectives.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment. The only way you’ll find out what might work better for your organization is to try different ideas from time to time. Maybe not all of them will work. But when you adopt the mindset of always be evolving and improving, you’re going to have much greater success in persuading employees to open your newsletters.

They will wake up to the value the newsletters are bringing into their lives.

Related resources

Dawn Heiberg

Dawn Heiberg

As Content Marketing Manager for Firstup, Dawn started out working in creative agencies, then transitioned to consumer brands, with experience leading projects for Wizards of the Coast and Disney theme parks. Now focused on the tech industry, her passion is planning, creating, and sharing engaging content that helps move the needle.

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