Improve Email Open Rates for Internal and Stakeholder Communications

Creating communications content requires a significant investment of your time and effort. It is unwise to neglect the techniques available to you to maximize your audience and the potential impact of your message.

While researching and reflecting for ways a client could improve their open, engagement, and share rates for internal and stakeholder email communications I aggregated my suggestions with those of other experts on the topic.

Here is short list of tips to have your intranet and newsletters audiences read more, read more often, and share what they have read with their peers and professional network.

  1. Welcome Readers Right of the Bat. Then Refine Your Audience.
    Given that a publisher subscriber relationship is just that, a relationship, it always surprises me that many publishers don’t send a welcome email. When someone subscribes they have clearly expressed interest and consented to hear from you. Now the ball is in your court. How can you make me feel welcome (or at minimum acknowledged) while you have my attention? You only have one chance to make a first impression. Why not deliver your best archived content first? Rather than whatever correspondence is next in the cue?

    Give them control then give them what they want. If your email software (CMS) lets you sort your subscribers into lists (likely with MailChimp, Convert Kit and the like), perhaps the welcome email is a chance for the subscriber to specify what they are and are not interested in. Then when it comes to publishing you are in a position to send them only the content they have opted in for and use subject lines that are most likely to be relevant for them. Don’t make them sort through your shotgun blast of info if they don’t have to.

  2. Readers are hardwired for the human element
    Regardless of your business, people are it the core. Customers. Suppliers. Employees. The human animal cannot help but be more invested and interested in stories that feature folks like them. A recent survey of staff and stake holders by a major financial institution identified that stories about people or at least those told with a human element where most interesting to readers.

    Recent surveys from a major multi-national concluded that their internal and external audiences were both most interested in stories with a human element.

    Augment news, facts and policy with storytelling that focuses on who has been effected or how they will benefit.

  3. “Audience Source ” content to get people interested and invested
    In a large group many people are looking for ways to stand out, and others are interested to know the opinions of others. If you can turn your audience into co-creators they will have a vested interest in promoting the larger publication and others will be more invested in reading the content than it is constantly you talking about you.

    Benefit from the hive-mind and consider a “More the Merrier” contributor model. Create an opportunity to participate that makes it easy for others to deliver, and easy for you to manage.

    Engineer for Apathy. Think small. Getting folks to contribute a long-form blog article out of the goodness of their heart is hard. How can you involve them in a way that is both valuable but simple? Perhaps asking for submissions of their favorite business podcast or book will get them invested a low risk manner.

    *Bonus tip to improve your internal email open rates: turn all these reader submitted recommendations into a well organized list that can be mentioned in the subject line. Lists suggest information density and low cognitive strain so are a great way to deliver information.

Tap you audience for content suggestions and better yet include and recognize them as contributors when the opportunity presents itself. It’s a great way to build buzz. :/
  1. Follow-up without people getting fed-up
    While the information in internal and stakeholder emails is undoubtedly important, it may not be mission critical. Folks may be full-out doing their job function and not have time to read your communication the first time.

    Explore if your email software let’s you resend the same message to only those who haven’t open the first time (again likely). This way you give yourself a chance at another 5-10% opening the communication without annoying the folks you have already reached.

    Creating content is costly, give yourself a second chance to get it to the right people.

  2. Whats In It For Me? (WIIFM) include jobs and training opportunities
    One of the most relevant pieces of news for your staff is what opportunities exist to move up or find a new challenge. Perhaps a job posting can be an opportunity to explain why a certain role is important to department and why that department is important to the organization.

Does this post get your gears turning? Thinking how you could make your internal and external email and intranet communications more relevant?

I am always happy to do a quick call or online chat to help business communicators succeed. I have worked with blue chip communicators including Boeing and Standard Chartered.

Hit me up for a free chat about your communications challenges! or connect with me on LinkedIn.

By trevorjurgens

Your source for content and experiences that get shared. Get off the social media / marketing treadmill? Contact me to hack human nature.

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