You spend a good chunk of time writing articles for your employee newsletter, but you don’t seem to be achieving the readership you’re looking for. How can you turn things around and encourage employees not only to open but to actually read your newsletter?

The first step to creating compelling employee newsletter content is to tap into what employees really need. Here are some common complaints employees have about company newsletters and what you can do to make meaningful improvements to boost readership.

Employees say: “I don’t have time to read it.”

What you can do: write for skimming (not reading)

Most employees don’t have time to read newsletters word for word. To reach these “skimmers” and “scanners,” you can:

  • Create a maximum word count for employee newsletter articles; as a best practice, shoot for 250–300 words
  • Put your “must read” main points up front
  • Create bite-sized chunks of content using subtitles and short, bulleted lists

And for those employees who want more details, provide hyperlinks or notes pointing to where more information is available.

Employees say: “I see company news on Facebook before I get the newsletter.”

What you can do: offer a unique perspective

Employees aren’t interested in reading old news. So, instead of rehashing the same old story, help employees learn something new and connect the dots so they know how the news affects them. Here are three examples of how to create unique employee newsletter content:

  • Instead of repeating the third quarter financial results focus on what the results mean for each of your key business areas.
  • Instead of relaying workplace safety statistics, create a slide share highlighting what employees have done to improve safety.
  • Instead of reviewing all five strategic business priorities, focus on one strategy per article and invite internal experts to explain what the strategy means for employees.

Employees say: “The headlines don’t catch my attention.”

What you can do: focus on the benefit

Most employees use headlines to decide whether to open an email or click a link to read an intranet article. So, if your headline is weak, employees won’t bother exploring further.

To entice employees to read your newsletter articles, here are a few tips for developing compelling headlines:

  • Get to the point. Your headline should summarize the main point of your message. That way, if employees don’t read any further, they will still get the idea. Example: “How our new business strategy will make us competitive”
  • Be conversational. Employees are so over meaningless words and phrases. If you write headlines that sound more like people talk, you’re more likely to get employees’ attention. Example: “Why open enrollment isn’t as complicated as you think”
  • Offer a benefit. At the end of the day, employees want to know one thing: What’s in it for me? So give employees what they want; help them solve a problem or accomplish a task effectively. Example: “How the new time tracking system will save you precious minutes.”
  • Pose a question. Pique employees’ curiosity by drafting headlines in the form of a compelling question. They’ll want to click and read to get the answer. Example: “Are you ready for your performance management discussion?”

Employees say: “The content is too complicated.”

What you can do: Show, don’t tell.

Attention spans are shorter than ever, so you need to be creative about how you deliver your message. Instead of using words, explain complex topics in a simple and compelling way through infographics, such as process maps, charts or timelines.

Here are some tips for creating attention-grabbing infographics:

  • Consider your audience. Tailor the design, layout, and copy of your infographic to meet employees’ needs.
  • Be a storyteller. Weave a story into your infographic, including a familiar character or scenario that employees can relate to. And, as with every good story, be sure to include a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Be concise. Boil content down to a few strong points. Remember: a good infographic relies on visuals, not words, to get a message across. You need to ask yourself: “Would employees still understand this without the text?” If yes, then drop the extra copy.
  • Focus your message. Avoid diluting your message with too many ideas that don’t support your objective. Be visually clean and clear.
  • Create meaning for each element. Thinking strategically about how you approach each shape and color. Every part of your infographic should support your objective. If it doesn’t, leave it out.

Employees say: “These stories aren’t relevant to me.”

What you can do: Focus on the employee

Keep your newsletter content employee-focused by explaining why the information is important and how it impacts people’s jobs/roles. Here are three ways to do so:

  • Explain why it matters. When writing your newsletter article, make sure you answer employees’ one burning question: “What does this mean to me?”
  • Offer news employees can use: Provide useful advice or tips that will help employees be successful in their jobs.
  • Confirm the action steps. Make it very clear if you need people to take action as a result of your message.

Want to dig deeper?

To get a pulse on what makes your employees tick and what they really want from your newsletter, try doing research of your own. Here are a few ways to get the valuable insights you need to improve your employee newsletter:

  • Take a look at your e-newsletter metrics, such as clicks and opens, to gauge participation
  • Run a report on intranet statistics to see which articles employees are flocking to the most
  • Send out a short online survey to a small sample of employees to get a quick pulse on employees’ needs and preferences
  • Invite 8 to 10 employees to a focus group and brainstorm ways to improve your newsletter

Originally published on medium.com

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