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Internal newsletters are important tools for keeping teams informed company-wide. This is especially true for larger organizations where teams may be in silos. Team members rely on these emails to know what’s happening around the business.
However, making them engaging isn’t easy. People already spend too much time in their inbox. How can you convince them to read one more email?
It takes careful planning, consistent execution, and an understanding of what your coworkers want to read.
Fortunately, that’s exactly what this post will cover (and more). This complete step-by-step guide will turn tired internal communications into invaluable insights that make an impact.
It’s an email (or printed publication) that rounds up news, announcements, and other pertinent information that’s important for staff to know. This post will focus on creating and distributing them via email.
Your company’s internal news emails don’t have to look much different than one you’d send to customers.
Newsletter Examples to Inspire Your Own:
You might be wondering, “Shouldn’t I be spending my time marketing to customers instead?”
If you’re a marketer, that sentiment is understandable. But, ignore internal communications at your own peril. There are tons of benefits behind having a well-coordinated newsletter. Here are several to consider:
An obvious answer to this is “the whole company.”
But, depending on the size of your organization, this question may get a little more challenging to answer. For example, various departments could have news roundups pertinent to their area.
If your company has tens of thousands of employees, allowing individual departments to create their own newsletters might make the most sense. Otherwise, company-wide is the best bet.
Even if you know your coworkers well, it’s worth spending time getting to know each team. Here are some common departments your company might include:
Now, odds are, you’re not equally in tune with every single one.
Here are some ideas to get insight into what info teams want most:
Some basic questions to ask include:
Drop each of these questions into your survey. For demonstration purposes, this post will look at using Google Forms. First, the Blank option:
Then, give it a clear title:
Next, add each question, selecting the Short Answer option for each one:
At this point, click Send. This will bring up the following screen (select the middle option to send this form as a link):
Finally, drop the link into a company-wide email. Here’s some copy-and-paste text you can use:
The marketing team is preparing a new internal email newsletter to keep everyone up-to-date on the latest happenings at [YOUR COMPANY]. To make it the best it can be, we’d like your feedback on what you’d like to see in the newsletter. It’ll only take a few moments to complete, and your responses will help us make sure it’s a useful resource company-wide.
Thanks for your time! Let me know if you have questions.
That should give you a good start on developing a newsletter content strategy.
Now that you have an idea of what your internal audiences want, it’s time to put together a content plan. This entails determining the topics, content types, sections, and themes your newsletters might include. Here’s a list of ideas to get the wheels turning.
Who’s that new face around the office? Let people know before they call security on a stranger in the building. Consider including:
Simple as that.
Did your organization just smash a sales goal? Appear at a major industry conference? Land an awesome new customer? Let everyone know instead of assuming word of mouth will get around!
No one wants to get caught breaking company policy because they didn’t know something changed. Say there’s a change to which doors are acceptable for staff to access your building. To make sure no one uses an incorrect entrance, let them know which ones they can (and can’t) use, and why.
People like to know their jobs are secure. They also need to know when things aren’t going so well, too. Consider including monthly or quarterly revenue numbers, so everyone knows where the company stands.
From potlucks to trade show appearances, let people know what’s coming up. That could include:
Small details like this can help ensure those events are attended and successful.
People throughout your company are probably working on cool stuff they’re passionate about. People on other teams might have no idea what those things are. So, ask around and see what’s cooking that’s worth sharing.
These don’t necessarily need to be groundbreaking innovations, either. Maybe accounting found a way to better notify staff when their paychecks are deposited. Or, the dev team could have gotten your site to load faster. Maybe you could even share a walk-through of basic things different teams are responsible for.
Recognize achievement! This could include:
This isn’t just fluff stuff, either. Recognizing employees for their hard work generates real, positive business results.
According to TinyPulse:
“By now, it’s a well-known fact that employees aren’t feeling valued at work. And honestly, there really is no such thing as “too much recognition.” If you really want to keep your employees, motivate them through recognition. That simple validation has the power to drive productivity through the roof.”
The data bears that out, too. According to a study from Pyschometrics, 58% of employees said recognition was the number one thing leadership could do to make them feel more engaged.
When asked what leaders could do more of to improve engagement, 58% of respondents replied “give recognition”
Did your company win an industry award, get placed on the Inc. 5000, or something similar? Let everyone know what the award is all about, why it’s important, and how it’ll help raise the company’s authority and visibility.
Build a list of relevant news sources for industry, follow them all using an RSS reader like Feedly, and share the best stuff that’ll help coworkers be more informed and do their jobs better.
If there’s content on your blog that’d be interesting to your coworkers (and not just your consumer audience), think about dropping a couple into your newsletter.
Launching new features or products can potentially have a broad impact across your business. Marketing teams will need to know something’s coming up for them to sell. Customer support teams might need to be prepared to answer questions. Make sure that information is in your newsletter.
Engaged employees like feeling as though they have a direct line of communication with leadership. Having your CEO or a department lead include a note or a letter shows they want to be involved in connecting with the company and transparently sharing important info.
Save your HR department some questions and let people know when not to show up.
So, what exactly does [NAME] over in [DEPARTMENT] actually do all day? Set up an interview time to ask questions, shadow them with a camera, and share their story in the newsletter. Here’s an example from Microsoft highlighting one of their employees:
How is your company helping customers? Find a customer story and write about it. Some good places to find quality candidates might be your customer support or PR teams. Here’s an example from CoSchedule’s own internal marketing newsletter:
Did you land some nice media coverage? Odds are, your coworkers would like to know. You might want to stick to positive coverage for your purposes here, though.
Find something interesting that will help people in your company do their work better? Include it! Here are some ideas:
As long as its relevant, this stuff will get read.
Of course, be careful not to embarrass anyone against their own wishes. But if there’s something fun or goofy happening, snap a photo and tell a short story to go along with it. Here’s an example of a gag CoSchedule’s Bismarck office set up in a street-facing front window display:
If you business does anything at all, someone is guaranteed to have a question. Leave a section somewhere asking employees to submit any questions they have, and then choose a few to answer in the next edition of the newsletter.
Sometimes, people have good questions, but don’t ask them because they’re never prompted. Include something like this:
We believe great questions can come from anyone, anywhere. Have something you’d like to know? Send your questions to [INSERT OF POINT OF CONTACT] and you might see an answer in the next edition of [NAME OF NEWSLETTER].
Are there any cool things happening in the area around your office that might make good team-building events (re: an excuse to get to know coworkers outside of work)? Include one or two. People might appreciate the heads up and check things out they would have otherwise missed, while getting to know the people they work with everyday.
One way to find events is to check out local publications and city magazines in your area. For example, Fargo Monthly (a city magazine) hosts an event calendar with upcoming things to do in town:
So, that’s plenty of ideas to get you thinking. At some point though, you’ll need to determine what types of content you’ll include in each newsletter. Keeping it consistent makes it easier to gather and write what you need, rather than wondering what to include.
If you need a starting point, here’s a recommended mix:
Putting some constraints on content selection will force you to select only the best and most relevant stuff to share. Feel free to mix up your formula (and even disregard these suggestions completely—do what works best for your situation).
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Internal communications are different from consumer-facing communications in a lot of ways. If you’re new to creating content for internal comms, you might have some questions on what makes sense to share, and which things might be off limits.
Not everyone is a comedian, and it’s easy for jokes to come off unintentionally insulting. If you’re going to share a joke at a coworker’s expense, make sure you get their permission first, and use your best judgment in determining whether its workplace-appropriate.
People don’t have time to read 10,000-word articles on work time. Get to the point.
Encouraging transparency is a major benefit for creating a newsletter in the first place. If it isn’t truthful, or if its used to mask company failings, then the trust transparency builds can be lost quickly. Don’t lie, obfuscate facts, or otherwise try to spin negatives into positives in ways that are dishonest.
It might be tempting to load up on fun content, especially if you have a free-spirited company culture. But, that kind of stuff usually isn’t the best at supporting a newsletter’s core purpose. Consider using a 90/10 split between serious or professional content, and mix in a little bit of fun to keep it from being too dry.
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Now you’re finally ready to start writing some content.
A good name helps your newsletter be more recognizable. Try to create something more interesting than “the company newsletter,” or something generic.
Speaking of generic, an email that sounds cold and corporate isn’t going to get read, because it’s going to be boring.
You might already understand tone and voice. But, even if you have each dialed in for your customer-facing content, you might need to rethink it for your internal communications. So, here’s a summary:
This video explains what these terms mean and why they’re important for brands to understand:
Now, each section will likely have a headline or sub-headline. If you want to really give each one some polish, use the Headline Analyzer. The public version is always free to use, and it’s also built directly into CoSchedule:
Boring subject lines aren’t going to get read. So, there’s a simple solution: don’t write boring subject lines! Rather than reusing the same subject line each time, make them unique and get people excited to get the latest company news.
One way to optimize subject lines is with the Email Subject Line Tester. Enter a subject line:
Then, get a full analysis of what works, what doesn’t, and how to improve:
Like the Headline Analyzer, the web version is free, and it’s also built directly into CoSchedule. Test some subject lines here.
Readers will most likely skim your email. So, stick to standard web writing best practices:
Those two simple guidelines will get you a long way.
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Your email design should be consistent week-to-week (unless you’re testing design elements, or have a reason to strategically change a variable).
Studies show recipients prefer plain text emails. But, like many things, that information needs to be taken with a small grain of salt (plain text is great, but there’s still a place for designed HTML emails, too).
For your purposes here, a designed email will likely be more visually interesting and hook coworker’s attention. Test both and let data drive your decisions moving forward, though.
If you have a designer or developer who can build you a template, you might choose to skip this section. However, if you don’t have access to someone who can build an email template for you, there are tons available on the web you can customize and use for free.
There’s no right or wrong distribution frequency. But, you might want to start with a weekly or monthly schedule. You can also use a survey to ask your organization how often everyone would like an email update.
If you’re using an internal communications calendar, use it map out your newsletter sends. That way, it won’t get forgotten, and you can ensure consistent delivery. You’ve got two options here:
How can you know whether your newsletter is actually useful? Most email service providers have powerful analytics features built in that make it easy to track performance. Take a look at the following:
Listen to direct feedback from recipients. Once you’ve been sending these emails for a while, send out a survey asking what people think. Include questions like:
Keep it short and sweet. Then, use the date you gather to continue improving your content (and driving up your metrics—ideally, you’d like to get to as close to 100% readership as possible).
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Checklists make managing any workflow easier, and your newsletter creation process is no exception. Follow this simple checklist to make creating each one more efficient:
Not only can you build checklists to manage your workflow, you can manage your entire newsletter creation process in CoSchedule, thanks to key integrations with MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, Active Campaign, and Constant Contact.
CoSchedule, as you might know, is a calendar-based marketing management platform. It’s your homebase where every project and campaign starts, including emails.
First, connect your email service provider. Then, select a day on your calendar, and choose Email Marketing:
Give the newsletter a title and select MailChimp to create the email (for other email service providers, the email will need to be created in your ESP first, and will then appear on the CoSchedule calendar):
Next, write your subject line and get real-time analysis to improve it:
That’s just a quick look inside CoSchedule. To see how it all works together, schedule a demo with an expert, or start a free 14-day trial. It’s the best way to keep your entire marketing department organized.
That covers everything you need to know about creating quality newsletters.
June 18, 2018
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