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Quick Fixes to Improve Your Employee Newsletter Content & Design

POSTED ON 
June 28, 2022

If your employee newsletter readership is down and has not been improving over time, you may be focusing on the wrong thing. While well-written content is critical, it's not the thing that draws readers in.  

Read the first and second blogs in this series of cures for the common employee newsletter, which cover information overload and email metrics.

Most audiences today scan before they commit to reading. Visual elements help a reader decide if they want to stay for the party. If your newsletter is hard to read, boring to look at and/or full of stock photos… it could be suffering from a case of “the uglies” – and this could be turning off your readers!

So how the heck do you attract your readers to your stories? By keeping the uglies at bay and making sure your newsletter has two key elements: skimmable content and eye-catching visuals!  

1. MAKE CONTENT SKIMMABLE AND SCANNABLE  

Busy lives, short attention spans and modern online experiences have transformed us from readers to skimmers. Long blocks of text work against your goals (and it’s just plain ugly to look at).

So, what to do? Break up that text. In doing so, we can guide a reader’s eye and emphasize the most critical information that might otherwise get lost in a sea of words. Here are a few easy ways you can do that.

OPTION 1: WRITE SHORT PARAGRAPHS  

Short paragraphs are great for making content more digestible. Limiting a paragraph to 150 words or no more than eight sentences opens up more white space, making the paragraph less overwhelming for the reader.  

You can also use a title that will entice the reader by telling them they’ll get the information quickly.

OPTION 2: CHUNK YOUR CONTENT

Chunking content is breaking it up into short, bite-sized pieces. You can drop small chunks of information in categories using headers to call attention to specific points and draw the interest of readers.  

Chunking makes information more manageable and easier to remember.  

OPTION 3: USE SHORT BULLETS

Short bullets are great for providing information that you want readers to find or remember easily. A list of short (one- to two-word) items can be quickly scanned by the human eye and are also screen reader accessible.  

OPTION 4: CONDENSE YOUR BULLETS EVEN MORE

If short bullets don’t do it for your readers, use even shorter bullets. Single words that might otherwise be provided in a paragraph are much easier to take in when they are broken up by a simple visual like bullets. These lists are great for simplifying processes.  

2. create eye-catching visuals  

Once you have your text tactically placed, the job is only half done! A good newsletter balances skimmable text with  interesting visuals and graphics. If you don’t think it’s important to choose the right images to support your newsletter stories – think again.  

ACCORDING TO THE EMAIL MARKETING EXPERTS AT VERO, WHO ANALYZED OVER 5,000 EMAIL NEWSLETTERS, CAMPAIGNS WITH IMAGES GOT A 42% HIGHER CLICK THRU RATE (CTR) THAN THOSE WITHOUT THEM.

This doesn’t mean throwing any image into your layout will automatically increase your engagement though! No, my friends. You have to choose images that resonate with your readers.  

Articles that use boring stock images lead to disinterest because your reader can think the content will be the “same old stuff.” So, while it may be tempting to grab that stock image, if you want to entice someone into reading your staff newsletter, make an effort to draw them in with something they probably haven’t seen before.  

Let’s be real, we’ve probably all been guilty of using pictures like these:  

  • Everyone pointing at a graph
  • Scrabble tiles that spell out the word du jour
  • The guy who looks like he’s in the matrix (we call him the conjuror)
  • An all company picture where you need a microscope to distinguish who’s who
  • That picture of the CEO looking... male and serious 

NOT groundbreaking stuff. I mean, how often do colleagues actually gather around a PRINTED image of graphs and point at them to emphasize sales growth, right?

Instead, take the time to find or create unique visuals will give the impression the information is fresh.  

So, what’s another way to do it?

INCORPORATE YOUR CONTENT INTO AN ENTICING VISUAL  

Let’s say we’re sharing the quarterly earnings report, there’s going to be a TON of numbers to choose from here. Pick one, stick it in a shape in PowerPoint, and you just created a bespoke visual that’s going to stand out in your newsletter.  

Let your text and visuals team up to create a complete, engaging message that can grab the attention of your readers.  

FIND TEXT THAT YOU CAN REPLACE WITH AN IMAGE  

Next, explore new ways to present information by finding texting you can swap out with an image. When trying to figure out what you can or should transform, look for:

  • Consistent content features from edition-to-edition​
  • Anything data or number-heavy 
  • Opportunities for structured content (e.g., tables, lists)​ for visual variety
  • Shareable content that you can package up for different platforms like your intranet or mobile app

While you want your newsletter to be a unique publication, there are some rules of thumb that keep you in a positive space, design-wise:

  • Use ALT text: ALT text is descriptive copy that describes the image. It’s used when images can’t be displayed or viewed. Plus, it’ll help your newsletter meet accessibility standards for audiences with visual impairments using a screen reader.  
  • Avoid clutter: When laying out your newsletter, don’t be afraid of whitespace! It gives the reader’s eye a break and makes the copy easy to scan and digest.  
  • Keep image size under control: Avoid cluttering your newsletter with lots of small images that can confuse the reader’s eye. On the flip side, stay away from huge images that threaten to drown the text. For balance, try to use 20-30% of your space for images.

Keep the uglies at bay with clean text and strong visuals  

From now on, you solemnly swear to be up to real good and make your employee newsletter easier on the eyes with well-designed content and relevant, on-brand visuals. But it doesn’t end there! Take time to evaluate your content, monitor your metrics, and iterate to ensure your newsletter remains a valuable resource to your people.

And if you need some help with your newsletter, at Brilliant Ink, we’ve seen it all. We’re pros at helping organizations of all shapes and sizes create, enhance, and distribute email newsletters that engage and delight employees. If your newsletter is still ailing, reach out to us to learn how we can help you!

For more bite-sized brilliance, subscribe to our monthly employee engagement newsletter, the Inkwell, and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest

Jackie Berg
HEAD OF RESEARCH & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

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