Recently, we had over 300 internal communicators come together to talk about employee newsletter design.
And oh boy, did we have a lot to talk about.
So much in fact, that even after an hour, we still had a lot of unanswered questions.
There were so many great questions we decided to write this epic follow-up so everyone who attended can get their burning questions answered.
If you missed the broadcast, go ahead and watch the replay here.
There are a ton of questions, so use the links below to jump to the questions that interest you most.
Employee Newsletter Content
1. Our employee newsletter has a short, 2-paragraph explanation on the the front cover. Is this good placement?
First, ask yourself:
- What purpose does this 2-paragraph explanation serve?
- Does your employee newsletter go to anyone who might not know what it is about?
- Does it add value?
- Is it necessary?
If it is not necessary information, consider removing it altogether. If it isn’t adding anything to your newsletter, it could distract from the content you really want your readers to focus on.
If it is necessary, then see if you can boil down the purpose of the newsletter to one sentence. If you need to include it in every edition, build it right into the header of your email or another design element that is consistent in every edition.
2. Should your employee newsletter be a summary of weekly posts from your intranet?
Every employee newsletter is different.
If you have an intranet where you post most of your content, using the newsletter as a directory of new and important posts and pages could be useful.
The important question to ask is: How do employees benefit from your newsletter? Or rather, how are you going to provide value?
If you’re trying to simply drive traffic to your intranet, then using the newsletter as a directory or summary could be valuable. The trick is to create concise copy that clearly indicates how employees will benefit from clicking through to read the content on your intranet. If you don’t indicate why it matters, how it affects them, or how they benefit, they have no reason to click-through, so give them a reason!
But your newsletter doesn’t have to be just a summary of your homepage news. Newsletter content is only limited by your imagination.
If you're looking for more content ideas for your employee newsletter, click here.
3. Is there a suggested length for an employee newsletter?
If it’s interesting stuff that will help them succeed and is written in a conversational tone, you will probably be able to get away with longer-form content.
But if your employees are always on the run and rarely have time to sit down and read, no matter how good your content is, it probably won’t get read.
It all comes back to knowing your audience. Find out:
- Are they opening on desktop or mobile devices?
- What do they expect from the newsletter?
- Are there other communication channels that might be more appropriate and accessible for lots of images or long-form content?
4. Do you have any good examples of employee newsletter subject lines that get people to actually open the newsletter?
You bet! Check out this post all about newsletter subject lines.
5. Is it better to put your CTA links in the article? In a button below the article? Or as a linked text line below the article?
Generally, buttons tend to get higher click rates than links, but it really depends on your design, your content, what the CTA is for, and your CTA copy.
When you’re looking at your CTA, ask yourself:
- Is it clear?
- Is the benefit or value of clicking through obvious?
- Is it obvious that this is a CTA?
Regardless of which format you choose, your copy matters, so make it count. Instead of the basic, 'read more' that we're all so used to, try using a different verb, like:
From there test out different styles and copy and see what works best for your audience!
6. I want to use employee photos for internal comms, but no one wants to be photographed. What do I do?
This is tricky. Obviously, don’t use anyone’s photo who would be upset about it.
And if you’re posting unflattering pictures of people or using them publicly without their consent already, people are not going to let you take their photo.
Often employees won’t want to pose for photos because they’re not feeling/looking their best. It could help to let people know beforehand that you want to take photos so they can prepare, do their makeup or hair, and wear something flattering.
You can also try holding a photo contest, with the stipulation that the photos submitted will be used in your internal communications (but not externally). Reward the winner with a gift certificate or book!
You can also allow employees to submit their own photos for the newsletter. This way they know they look good and don’t have to feel awkward in front of the camera.
Employee Newsletter Images & Visuals
7. I’ve heard that employee newsletters with lots of images may be marked as spam, is that true?
In terms of spam filtering, the safest bet is to just make sure that all of your employees have the email address you’re sending from whitelisted (talk to IT!), and you won’t run into this problem.
8. How do you balance the design of your employee newsletter so it’s engaging but it doesn't end up looking like junk mail or marketing?
It’s a common misconception that in order for your newsletter design to be engaging it has to be flush with color and lots of different elements to entice the eye.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. The most engaging designs are the ones that you don’t even really notice. They’re so clean, open, and tastefully done that your eye is naturally drawn to certain areas of focus.
Engaging designs set up your content to succeed by making it readable, clear, and easy to look at.
9. To make a great looking employee newsletter, do you need graphic programs like Illustrator?
While we love using Illustrator to create serious illustrations, if you're just looking to crop your photos or put text on images, you can accomplish this in the image editor in Bananatag’s Email Designer 3.
You can also apply filters, add frames, and use a fun selection of emoji and stickers.
If you want to do something a bit more technical, but don't have access to tools like Photoshop or Illustrator, we recommend an intuitive image editor like Canva.
10. Is there an image tool that automatically adds photos as circular, like in one of the examples shown?
There are lots of free tools online! Here are a few we've found:
Employee Newsletter Audiences
11. How do you layout two languages (English and French) in your employee newsletter without it looking messy?
This can be tricky.
We often see customers ‘stack’ both versions of their newsletters in the email, and then use a table of contents or anchor link at the top to allow readers to jump to their preferred language.
Just make sure to include a clear separation (like an image or spacer) in between the two newsletters so that readers know when they have reached the end of the content in their language.
You also might want to consider segmenting your employees by language preference and sending separate versions. This is a great way to measure how the content is performing across audiences and get a better sense of how to tailor your content and design to different audiences.
12. Do you have any tips for making a newsletter for IT employees?
As with any specific role or group of employees that you might be emailing, it’s so important to know your audience. The easiest way to find out how to make them a newsletter that they’ll read is to ask them what they want!
Like most audiences, IT folk are going to be interested in content that makes their lives easier or makes them feel something.
In our experience, IT folk are more matter-of-fact and technically savvy than your average reader, so trying to impress them with fancy coding or design may miss the mark. And if you’ve made errors in the design or things aren’t formatted correctly, they may not bother reading the newsletter at all.
To avoid this, keep your design dead simple. Always strive for clarity and providing value.
13. Is there a way to set up the internal newsletter so that employees can customize when they receive it and which topics they want to learn more about?
At time of publishing (December 2019), we do not allow employees to customize their preferences.
But we’re currently working on some great integrations in 2020 that will make your communications even easier and more targeted. So stay tuned!
Technical Questions about Employee Newsletters
14. If mobile intranet access is limited, what are your thoughts on accommodating 15 pages of scrolling?
Anything on mobile is going to mean scrolling, even if you've got a medium length newsletter.
Luckily, as smartphone users, we're used to it. We're very good at scrolling, so this isn't necessarily a bad thing.
But if your content isn’t engaging or it's hard to read, your readers will drop off.
Regardless of how long your employee newsletter is, we always recommend asking yourself these questions before you decide to include a piece of content:
- Is it useful?
- Is it clear?
- Does it provide value?
- Why should employees care?
- Is it absolutely necessary?
Use this as a litmus test as to what content gets to be in the newsletter.
If you’ve got a heap of useful, engaging, clear, valuable content that you want remote employees to be able to access, you might consider testing a few different approaches and seeing what performs best.
You could send shorter emails throughout the month and then a long-form, 15-page scroller newsletter once per month. Or you could try bundling content or boiling down the content to the most important points.
What is going to work for your organization and your audience is going to be specific to you, so make sure you get some metrics, test some different approaches, and see what works best.
15. What's your take on dealing with dark mode?
Email has not caught up to the rest of the industry in respecting dark mode consistently. In addition to the issues dark mode may cause with transparent areas in emails, some mail clients (for example Gmail on iOS) may remove any white or off-white colors from your email backgrounds automatically. Typically, the mail client will also recolor the text in a lighter color so it is visible on the dark background.
While this obviously isn't ideal for those who want 100% control over their email design, it is the reality we have to deal with for now.
One tip we can offer is to make sure that you ensure logos and icons have transparent backgrounds to avoid unseemly white boxes around your graphics.
Bananatag's Email Designer 3
16. Do you have any webinars on the actual use of Bananatag?
When you login to your Bananatag dashboard, navigate to your account options in the upper right corner.
From there, click on Resources, and then click on Webinars.
There you will find all manner of training and previously recorded webinars on the email designer.
17. Are we going to be getting into Bananatag templates?
We didn’t have a ton of time on the broadcast to get into them, but soon you can expect brand new templates in your account for the Email Designer 3.
If you’re not using Bananatag yet, we’ll have some HTML versions available for download that you can experiment with soon!
18. How can I add small icons? Is it at all possible with Bananatag?
Adding icons in Bananatag is pretty simple.
Depending on what kind of icons you’re interested in adding, you can simply use the image editor to upload your prefered icons. Play with the padding feature to align them properly and ta-da!
If you’re looking for inspiration, try Flat Icon.
19. Can multiple team members collaborate within a template in the Email Designer 3?
Multiple team members can currently access, modify, and save shared employee newsletter templates, so everyone can pitch in and collaborate. But we don’t recommend all of your contributors login into the specific template you’re editing at the exact same time.
20. Are there any plans to add a "Back to Top" button in Bananatag to work with the existing Table of Contents?
There currently is not, but only because you can already do this!
Just create a second TOC at the bottom of your newsletter with a link to your first article. Change the link to read, “Back to Top,” and you’re good to go!
21. Is there a way to format blocks in Bananatag’s Email Designer 3 without having to make the changes to every single block one at a time?
To change multiple elements (like change all paragraphs to 16px, for example) hold Cmd+Click (on Mac) and Ctrl+Click (Windows) to select multiple elements. The multiple element settings will appear on the right and you can modify them there.
To change the settings for a block that contains multiple elements, simply select the block and modify the settings in the Block Settings Panel on the right.
To format all blocks, click the ‘Select All’ checkbox in the Block Settings Panel, and then your changes will apply to all blocks.
22. Is Bananatag 508 compliant?
Bananatag's email designs are easily read by screen readers. We also have many features inside our email designer that can assist you to make sure your content is 100% compliant with accessibility standards.
But, even though you can be 100% compliant using Bananatag, we don't require communicators to use all of our accessibility features.
To read about how Bananatag helps communicators stay 508 compliant and meet all accessibility requirements, go here.
23. Can we build templates like the ones you showed us in Bananatag?
Yes! With the Email Designer 3’s flexibility, you can definitely mimic most of the designs we showed during the broadcast (except for maybe the forever-scrolling Exploding Kittens design).
24. How does corporate branding and styling work?
You can save your brand colors and fonts in Bananatag’s Email Designer 3, saving you time and helping you ensure your team always stays on brand.
25. Do you have image libraries?
Currently, we do not. But we’re always making up important updates to the email designer based on user feedback and we’ve got loads of new features in the pipeline.
There are also a ton of free, high-resolution image libraries online. Our favorite is Unsplash.
26. Can I upload all of my custom fonts?
You can request custom fonts to be added to Bananatag from the Branding Settings page.
27. Do you support GIFs and videos?
We're working on it.
Currently, we do not support GIFs in our email designer. But it is definitely in the pipeline.
Due to limitations of most email clients (including Outlook), videos cannot actually play in email recipients' inboxes. Even if a video file was directly linked in an email, Outlook would only show a static image of the first frame.
One popular workaround has been to design video thumbnails for email, that link to videos hosted elsewhere. In our Email Designer, we've automated this process to let you easily share your video content.
28. Are Bananatag's employee newsletter templates mobile-responsive?
All designs made on Bananatag’s Email Designer 3 are fully responsive across desktop and mobile devices.
29. Can I book a demo?
Of course! Book a demo here with one of our friendly Bananas!