Virtually every organization and internal communicator sends email newsletters, making them one of the most common and relied upon internal email formats.
The key function of the internal email newsletter is a roundup of your most important, interesting internal content. Because just about any type of internal content fits into an email newsletter, there’s all the more reason to nail down a format that presents all this information in the clearest, most concise way possible.
There are two main approaches we see communicators take to internal email newsletters: short form and long form.
- Short form: including snippets of the articles with links to your intranet.
- Long form: including the articles in their entirety.
Why the Short Form Internal Newsletter is the Best Practice
We strongly recommend choosing the short form format for internal newsletters unless you’re a “special” case -- more on that below. As stated above, in this format content likely lives on the intranet and the email newsletter shows a snippet of the article or a short summary, with a clearly visible button to ‘read more’ on the intranet.
Why do we recommend using this format?
Employees instantly get to see the information that is most relevant to them. They can jump straight to what they’re interested in, without having to scroll down past many long articles before getting to the information they’re after. This makes consuming internal content more efficient for busy employees. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, linking to the intranet gives you data (clicks) on what content your audience is interested in and reading.
Though we see the short form newsletter as the best practice, as we alluded to there are cases where a long form internal email newsletter is definitely the better format.
The Case for Long Form Internal Newsletters
First, let’s explain why we’ve been throwing shade at this format. In many ways, it’s the opposite of everything we like about the short-form approach. It’s difficult to convey a lot of information in the time needed to capture your audience's attention. Data is also much more limited in this format; without intranet link clicks, it’s almost impossible to differentiate what content your audience is interested in.
So if we don’t love it, why use it? In a word, accessibility.
For many organizations the intranet may not be optimized for mobile devices or it may be completely unavailable for employees outside of the company network. It might also be the case that requiring employees to log in to the intranet each day is discouraging them from actually accessing it.
The long form newsletter is not dependant on an intranet to house the newsletter information. Instead this format lists all the content within the email and it can be a pragmatic solution for communicators.
While we understood this, we still had trouble getting behind it. Most of the examples we saw featured complex, multi-column newsletters that were working against the very goal they were trying to achieve: making internal content more accessible.
So what changed our thinking? We saw some kick-ass external newsletters that read much like a Medium post and we thought, what if your long-form newsletter read like an editorial you would read on a website optimized for both desktop and mobile reading? Borrowing the ideas and practices of our favorite examples, we designed this longform template.
Our Long Form Newsletter Template
What about mobile?
Our long form template is full-width on a mobile (utilizing as much of a small screen as possible) and lets readers easily scroll through the content without needing to pinch or zoom. This template works surprisingly well for mobile users and can contain any reasonable amount of information.
Feature Image, Title, and Summary
What’s in a good header of a long-form internal email newsletter? This template uses a large feature image, bold title and summary to capture the attention of busy employees and inform.
The header and title of this template gets to the point: it’s a rundown of the week’s events. A good practice is writing at least five different header examples before you settle on the winning title or you can even perform a five-second test.
By switching up the feature image with something memorable each time you send the template, there’s a prime opportunity to apply the hook model to internal email.
Right below the feature image and just above the table of contents in this template is the summary of the long form email newsletter. It consists of a few short summary sentences and gives employees an idea of what to expect from the newsletter (and also gets them interested in scrolling for more).
Table of Contents
A crucial element in the long form newsletter is the table of contents. It provides a snapshot of what to expect in the email and most importantly offers a way to quickly navigate to the sections within the newsletter your audience finds relevant.
In any piece of internal content, concise writing is imperative to getting the message across -- this is even more important for your long form internal email newsletter. Keep messages brief and clear, especially since you want to maintain your audience’s attention for more than one article.
Using large feature images for each article is a good way to break up walls of text, highlight the start of a new article and draw the reader in.
What Email Template Is Next?
Now that we’ve covered the internal email newsletter with some examples of how to optimize the classic internal email newsletter format, next we’ll be covering alert emails. We’ll dive into how you can make these concise emails even more powerful in your internal comms and get important messages across to employees.
In the coming weeks we’ll also be hosting a webinar on designing internal email featuring the five core internal email templates every communicator needs. We’ll also provide webinar attendees with the five HTML templates to download for free.
We’re always looking to improve and find ways to make communicator’s jobs easier; if there’s anything you think we should add or change this internal email newsletter template, we’d love to hear about it below!