How to Make Your Employee Newsletter a Winner
Although they’re “just” for your own staff and colleagues, employee newsletters shouldn’t be taken for granted. Once you learn how to do internal email newsletters best, they can be effective communication tools. It’s important to thoughtfully craft them as a strong employee newsletter can serve an important role inside the organization.
Things you should know about Internal Email Newsletters:
- Objectives of employee newsletters
- Elements of effective employee email newsletters
- Pointers for writing better internal email newsletters
- Recommended internal newsletter content
Objectives of employee newsletters
Before going into how to come up with excellent internal email marketing messages, it’s important to know what the objectives of these newsletters are and what elements define them.
Why do you want to send internal newsletters to your employees? These are the main reasons why employee newsletters are so popular in various departments such as Human Resources, Employer Branding, and organizations in general:
- To inform. Email newsletters circulate in a company to distribute information intended for affected employees. The information included is relevant and useful for targeted departments and employees – even regardless of hierarchical rankings.
- To break down silos. Aside from distributing relevant information to 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.
- 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.
- Work together with other communication channels. Email newsletters can present company information as a reference alongside other channels. For instance, they can announce or acknowledge the achievements of a specific team or department. Where normally this would only be found on an intranet, slack or bulletin board posting.
- Grease the wheels of employee onboarding. Getting new employees up to speed with everything that’s going on in the company is just as important for the new recruits as it is for the organization itself. You want your new employees to feel that they’re part of the team as quickly as possible. And not only because you need their help in your key projects. A highly effective onboarding process can improving employee commitment up to 18x as a recent study showed.
- Get feedback and improve employee happiness. When you have teams working off-site, with a distributed team in various locations or even in one location but on different projects it is easy to lose touch.Internal emails can help you learn, engage and retain your employees for longer. Ask feedback through employee email surveys. It is important to not just say you care about employees – but show action on points raised. Email can be one piece to aid in getting feedback and improving happiness and retention.
- Improve your products and services. In your internal newsletters, you can tickle your employees. Tickle them to give back fresh ideas through surveys – encourage them to participate in different innovation places. Workgroups, Brainstorms or Hackathons. Solutions to the challenges your company is facing are often found by anyone in the company. Email as a firestarter to get valuable feedback from people across all departments. This includes employees who are not as prone to speak up by themselves or hard to meet in the corridor.
Elements of effective employee 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 like one group, but often 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 on the content. For instance segment on the departmental level.
- Content relevance.
All email newsletters should be written to serve a purpose. So mix and match the content with the above-mentioned objectives. At the same time, readers shouldn’t feel that they wasted their time reading (and acting on) your email. Or the email marketing engagement will plummet a few newsletters in.
- Format and presentation.
Adopt a consistent format to make newsletters familiar and easy to read/digest for everyone. It’s handy to keep a similar layout, style, and overall presentation for internal newsletters. Use a fixed but flexible email template. Why not do some grid style planning on it? Getting it right once will save a lot of time and effort.
- Tone of voice and style.
Your tone of Voice and style to use depend mostly on what the company or organization stands for and sounds like. It’s important to pick a style that suits the company. Hitting the right tone will also make your newsletters engaging and appealing.A company like Red Bull might want to pick a different tone than a Starbucks, and these differ quite dramatically from a 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 a tangible “representative” of company culture.
Pointers for writing better internal newsletters
The objectives and elements already give you an idea of what makes the most effective internal email newsletters. Keep them in mind while writing. Your goals will guide the writing of your internal email newsletters.
Naturally, don’t forget to follow the general rules of effective email marketing campaigns and email marketing best practices.
- Ensure that information is complete. Readers shouldn’t feel like they are only being teased. Where a B2C sales emails might want to tease out engagement, you want to give enough info. Internal newsletters aren’t school books either: try to be complete – but not overcomplete. The amount of information needed is probably smaller than you expect!
Linking to – for instance – an intranet for more 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 international award for brevity. But there should be! Make your newsletters short. Short. Have short sentences and short paragraphs. The point in making things concise and simple is avoiding that people skip the info altogether.
Bear in mind that everyone in the company is (or should be?) busy and won’t always have the luxury of time to read wordy and long-winded newsletters.
Most importantly newsletters should demonstrate a sense of fluidity so reading them appears natural. Especially think about rewriting that CEO musing. (they do love their long intros and columns!). Rewrite it a few times to make it better.
- Make newsletters engaging and empowering. Employees should read the internal newsletters because they find them interesting or engaging. Not because the boss demands them to do so. There is nothing wrong in making the emails engaging enough to create a habit of reading them, but how?
To make newsletters more engaging, use a conversational or casual tone. Unless it’s a company policy, it isn’t required to write in a formal tone. They are often not as strict as official company or organization correspondence so you have some leeway for making them interesting and engaging.
- Be creative or use humor. To make newsletters engaging, be creative or use a bit of humor. For example when putting on a reporter-hat about a recently held company event, don’t just yodel out the facts in straight journalistic powerpoint-to-bullet-point form. Try adding in some humor-laced comments along with candid photos. (You know what I mean, when I say just don’t overdo it.)When a department or project team “achieves a commendable feat”, as they say. Let everyone know and they can serve as an inspiration. Like you. Already read halfway through this huge blogpost. Well done, a “commendable feat”! You might feel a bit inspired already? More recommended internal newsletter topics coming up at the end of this article.
- Use visuals images and photos if you can. Imagine a device that looks like a endless teleprompter of lengthy, non-stop blocks of grey text. Feeding line after line of boring text. The human is a visual animal.The reading experience with images is so much better. In fact, according to a recent study by GetResponse, emails with images have 43% higher click-through rates. Visuals are certainly 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.
- Keep it appropriate. Creativity and some humor make newsletters better but always keep it appropriate. When reporting about layoffs or poor company performance, for example, humor is out of the question. It might go without saying, but it’s not right to make fun at times 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 an 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.
19. Employee newsletters examples and ideas
Employee engagement with your email doesn’t happen overnight. For that to happen, you need to communicate with them regularly and make your emails interesting. Have a bit of an edge too.
To make sure your emails get opened and read, it’s best if you have a few “golden topics”, but also switch it up every once in a while. Employee newsletters aren’t strictly business-related only.
Here are 19 employee newsletters example and ideas to get the internal communication juices running. Most of them you can use as standalone mail or a a segment in your company newsletter:
1. New team member announcement
Is someone new joining the team? Take this chance to present their profile and let them say a few words about themselves.
A new member intro shouldn’t read like a resume. Instead, a personal angle usually works better. Think about hobbies, an interesting book they’ve recently read, favorite music, or how they like to spend their free time.
This will help make a connection with colleagues. It is a conversation starter for the new recruit and get to know those who share similar interests.
2. Commendable feats and milestones
Employees do extraordinary things all the time. Perhaps they’ve hit a milestone to be proud about. When a department or project team “achieves a commendable feat”, let everyone know through the internal newsletter and they can serve as an inspiration.
Whether they’ve been with your company for over 10 years or they’ve run their first ultramarathon, let others join in on the celebration. Also a great place to show “Employee of the Month” or “Employee of the Year” is in your internal newsletter.
Build up a team spirit, some additional likability and they are happy to cheer and congratulate each other on their achievements.
3. Personal anniversaries and other celebrations
You don’t have to offer cake or spa vouchers to celebrate your employees’ birthdays and other special events.
If one of your employees had a baby, got married, or it’s their birthday, you can send them your congratulations and best wishes.
It’s great seeing how team members’ lives are changing over the years, when they’ve received different kinds of those emails during their time in your company.
4. Recommendations and must-sees
It can be that some of your employees aren’t local. Maybe relocated to join your company or they’re working remotely and only rarely visit the company HQ.
A top recommendations on places, shows, or restaurants to visit could be a bit of a different topic – some companies do centrally organise outings to go see sporting events or a concert together with others from the company.
What if your office is in a small town and everyone knows everything there is to see?
Then you can focus on a different kind of recommendations. For example, books, movies, or interesting playlists.
This type of communication can help your team members plan their time outside of the company or start discussions on things they like to do in their spare time.
And who knows, they may even choose to organize a team get-away to catch a few drinks or visit a concert after hours?
5. Team spotlight
Team spotlights are more common in enterprise, but it’s not exclusive to big companies.
Introduce the team – whom it consists of, what they’re working on, and what others can reach out to them about. People usually don’t know what other teams are working on.
They may know something about their area of work, but not necessarily the details.
Newer employees often end up not knowing who to ask about certain projects or if something’s being developed. Something an employee / project directory (They used to call that a Face Book, can you imagine?!) on an intranet could relieve if you’d go and actively search in it. Turns out, nobody is that active if they don’t know the details of the projects exist.
Including a team spotlight in your employee newsletter can help bridge that.
Additionally it gets a bit of coffee machine: “Hey weren’t you in the newsletter?” going and employees know where to turn if they have an issue in a given area.
6. Team party
Company retreats, parties, and getaways are popular these days.
If your team’s relatively small, organizing them is pretty easy.
But if you have a few hundred employees, some of whom are working abroad, planning everything requires a lot of effort.
You can avoid some of that hassle by sending regular updates with details about what’s coming and what your team members have to do to join you on a trip.
It’s also useful to store all that information in one single space, like a company intranet, to which you’d point from all your emails.
If you’re planning this type of email communication, make sure to keep it going even some time after the event’s taken place.
Prepare a summary, send pictures and videos, and ask for feedback so that your next company retreat will be even better.
7. Special day events
You can’t organize team getaways all the time. But why not bring the party to the team. By that I mean organizing a special day at the office.
You can plan them around special dates, like the International Coffee Day, Star Wars Day, or Read a Book Day.
There are plenty of reasons to celebrate, there is a whole calendar with holidays and special days. Your special day events can be one-off, or something you run regularly.
For example, do a movie screening night, or a board game afternoons every couple of weeks. Slightly less frequently, team members are invited to have fun on various occasions like Pizza Day or Fry-Day.
8. Competitions and contests
Everybody has that one (a bit too) competitive colleague. Some competitive spirit is always good though. And you will see that employees also have the same drive in their personal life. Why not channel that and invite employees to represent your company during a race or other type of contest. Or even plan competitions inside of your company.
Finding ideas shouldn’t be too hard either. You could plan it around sports – cycling, running, swimming, etc.
These could also be around some other hobbies. Cooking, baking, photography, or showing a good-doing.
You’d be surprised how involved people can get, especially it’s about something they really enjoy doing.
Gathering feedback is fundamental in all areas of business to be able to thrive. Feedback is an essential part of day-to-day team interactions and development plans. The addition of an email / online survey is that they are quick, structured and you can learn about your employees’ opinions.
Ask about anything: Company benefits, training opportunities, satisfaction with the workplace, or a recent company retreat. Or the more general “idea box”.
The thing you can do with online surveys, that you can’t in face to face is give an option for these to be anonymous. Just make sure people feel safe to share and aren’t judged by the outcomes.
10. New job openings
Internal recruitment is a good way to progress, both for employees and the company.
It allows your employees to grow and develop new skills and reduces additional time and money on training new hires.
The counter argument? People from outside of your company can bring new skills, perspectives, and knowledge that’s often hard to develop internally.
Leaving that argument aside, it just makes sense to let your employees know first when there’s a new job opening. Not only because some of them might want to apply for the role. But because they might know of someone who’d fit the role perfectly and could recommend them to you.
We tend to surround ourselves with people who are similar to us. That said, if you’re happy about your employees’ attitude to work and their performance, the odds are their friends will have similar traits.
This is especially useful for recruitment processes in very competitive industries (e.g. IT Development) or where the access to experts is limited.
11. Training opportunities
Helping your employees grow, a list of training opportunities is great content when for your employee emails.
This is a no-brainer if you’re already running workshops and trainings, that people can attend. But you can also tap into the knowledge inside the company. Start a new initiative and ask your team members to share their knowledge.
Example of a quiz / survey around employee training. Think about giving it as assessment (what is my level, do I need it?) and evaluation (What have I learned).
Perhaps there are people on staff, who like to teach others about their skills, like something very specific like coding or more general “business skills” like creating kick-ass powerpoints / presentations skills. Your colleague just visited a bootcamp or international event and can share their learnings with others.
Talk to your employees and invite them to talk about their areas of expertise. You’ll be surprised how many people enjoy sharing their knowledge with others.
It is also an opportunity for your team members to learn about new topics. some companies think takes the form of an AMA (Ask Me Anything), where one employee does a (short) presentation and all attendees can discuss. And who knows, maybe this will motivate them to develop new skills and apply for one of your more-specialized roles?
12. Doing good and giving back.
Many companies give back to the community. It is a part of corporate responsibility. doing good can take many forms:
* Fundraising or donations to charity
* Sponsor sport, clubs and local associations
* Give back a day to do some good.
Whatever the cause is, let your employees know about it and encourage them to join in.
It’s good to know that the company you’re working for and spending a big part of your daily life in – shares some of its resources with those that need it.
I bet some of your team members would be happy to join and help out with the initiative. Sometimes it’s the absence of a “group” that’s stopping others from doing something good for the community.
13. Important industry updates and news
Naturally, not all communication has to be about perks, benefits, or team parties.
You’re running a business after all.
That’s why internal email communication can also be around the things that affect your business and the industry you are in. If there are any legislative changes or there’s an interesting trend that can help your business grow, let your employees know about it.
14. Product and service development updates
A company should know what their products and services are if you want them to serve your customers effectively. Everyone in your team’s affected by your developments and it only makes sense to keep them informed about all the new cool stuff your teams have been working on.
Your Marketing Team needs to know what’s on the roadmap and what’s been launched. in order to best market your product.
Your Customer Service Team can help your customers better, if they know about the latest releases and services.
Your Sales Team will be able to sell better, if they have the answers or use-cases for your new features.
And that list goes on. It makes sense to let people know what the developments with products and services. It also signals respect that people don’t need to find out about changes from external news.
15. A (personal) message from the board or the CEO
An internal newsletter is a chance to share company’s results, future plans, forecasts, and so on. Because If you want your employees to follow the vision, they need to know where the company’s heading. You can’t keep this locked in the boardroom, sharing the vision is a sign of effective leadership.
If your organization is large you won’t be able to have a 1 on 1 with everybody or even chat with them in the hallway, you’ll need to get it across in other way. In your employee newsletter for example.
But sometimes the news your CEO will have to share, won’t be positive at all, and time sensitive. If there’s something is affecting the company and its customers in a negative way, they better learn about it so they can get prepared and know what the correct narrative is. (internal PR).
Imagine a scenario where your customer data has been leaked or your company has been hit by a DDoS attack. Some other kinds of company problems. Your employees need to be quickly informed about them, so that is worth an internal (email) update.
16. Changes in company leadership / people moving on
Not all companies are comfortable talking about people are leaving. But in certain cases it makes total sense to do so, for example, when it is a retiree and send them off with a nice goodbye.
Or when it’s someone with a key function, beloved company evangelist / face of the company / that awesome intern. When people are changing positions or leaving the company, this is a good way to let the rest of the company know.
17. Legislative or fiscal changes affecting employees
In certain countries legislations and fiscal policies change regularly. But at least yearly new tax laws might come into effect. Although this isn’t necessarily an exciting topic, it’s important to keep your employees updated on things that might affect them.
An extreme example is, for instance, the case of Brexit.
If your company’s based in the UK, and employees are British, they might be affected by the potential withdrawal of the UK from the EU. People can have real worries about what is happening.
Similarly, should a country that your team members often travel to have changed their policies with regard to travel permits, they want to know.
It may not sound breaking news, such information can save employees from unnecessary hassle if they were planning to go on a business trip to a chosen country.
18. Customer reviews and feedback from the frontline
Some team members are on the frontline. They get to talk a lot to customers, hear their feedback, and know how people think about the company.
Others don’t have that same level of direct customer and market feedback. They don’t get to see how their work impacts customers every day. The good news is that you can change that. Share some of customer reviews and feedback, gathered directly or from social media, etc.
It is a great motivation to see that customers appreciate the work that is done.
19. Just for fun
Fun may not sound like it has place in a company newsletter, but maybe it makes more sense than anything else.
Adding jokes, puns, and trivia can brighten your employees’ day. If it’s done a regular basis, say biweekly basis, team members might open your newsletter just to see that one segment.
In the earlier days of GetResponse, one of the team members used to prepare a funny magazine with different stories including people in the office.
He’d mix them into the popular stories from the news or TV shows, comment on bigger projects that were being developed in the company, or simply write funny poems.
These magazines have been such a hit that for several years, they have been framed and presented by the entrance to the company’s main building.
If that doesn’t speak for company culture I don’t know what does.
Your internal employee newsletter
In writing effective internal email newsletters, get the tone right. Find your mix of topics and share appropriate content that fits with objectives. it is good to have consistent format and an engaging and empowering tone. Internal newsletters are often different from your marketing emails. The internal newsletter objectives serve as a guide on what you should put in there. 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. Feel free to share in the comments how you plan your employee newsletters!
Looking for internal newsletter templates?
Author: Jordie van Rijn is an independent email and eCRM marketing consultant. Entrepreneur Magazine titled him “One of 50 Online Marketing Influencers to Watch” and brands like Unilever and KLM turn to him for advice. He is the founder of an international platform for Email and Marketing Automation Software selection. Next to helping companies improve their marketing results, he is often asked as a trainer and keynote speaker. His practical and enthusiastic approach is contagious and will have you sending better emails the next day.