5 Hacks for Creating Actually Engaging Internal Emails

“Business and organizations function best when they make their employees’ commitment, potential, creativity and capability central to their operation.”

 – David Macleod, Engaging for Success: Enhancing Performance Through Employee Engagement, 2009.


We feel your pain. You’ve been working hard on crafting a new newsletter or rounding up important news about your company. You send out an employee email to the entire organization and days go by without anyone saying anything about it. What’s worse, most of your employees have probably missed the important announcements and you’re stuck wondering how to create engaging internal emails.

Even after sending out internal emails with all the relevant information, you will be bombarded with questions like:

“What? I didn’t know we could get the flu shot at the office!”
“Is office yoga still happening?”
“When are we being sent our tax information?”

And it will take all of your strength and self-control to not climb on your desk and yell, “IT WAS IN THE EMAIL I SENT OUT LAST WEEK!!!”

It’s not your fault. It’s not their fault, either. Modern life has become a battlefield for attention and the #pingpong channel on Slack, funny memes and Instagram are your competition. What this means is that your employee emails better be engaging, concise and entertaining to have a fighting chance.

For that reason, let’s go over five hacks we’ve encountered that will help you create engaging internal emails.

1) The first impression (aka the subject line) matters

You can craft the perfect and most beautiful newsletter or write award-winning copy, but if no one opens it, your email might as well be empty. To ensure your emails get opened, you have to:

  • Use short subject lines: research has found that subject lines between 6-10 words have the highest open rates. Another thing to consider is that most people check their email on their cell phones, so a shorter subject line will ensure that your email is displayed correctly
  • Lead with desire: put yourself in their shoes, what email would you open? For your employees to open an email, the subject line needs to go beyond information to address their desires and needs. For example, if for your weekly pizza lunch the menu has been changed to Thai food, which email subject line would you click on …

“Information regarding pizza lunch” or “We’ve got a delicious surprise for lunch” ?

2) Make the content relatable (inside jokes are welcome)

Just as inside jokes play a key role within your group of friends, employees also like to feel that their organization is unique and special, so they will appreciate any references to company-wide experiences in the form of a call-back to that funny shirt your CEO wears or that time the power went out.

Instead of just being informational, make sure that your content speaks to the specifics of your company, whether in the form of a comment about the local sports team, the weather, or the beer selection at company socials.

3) Make it fun and memorable

send better employee newsletters

On that same note, since you’re now competing for attention with Instagram and funny videos of monkeys on YouTube, you need to embrace that your readers expect you to be entertaining. Here are some tips to do exactly that:

  • Add memes, gifs and other visuals to break up your text. Giphy is a great tool that allows you to add gifs to your email and they even have an Outlook add-on (get it here)
  • Add emojis to your subject lines whenever possible
  • Keep it short, fun-size, easily digestible. The golden rule to remember: brevity is king
  • Be a real person. Even when it comes to official announcements, people like hearing from actual people who sound human so your tone needs to reflect that

4) Use the inverted pyramid for information

engaging internal emails

You know firsthand that people have a hard time reading your emails, so you need to make the most out of the couple of minutes when you have their attention. For that reason, you need to embrace the inverted pyramid, a technique used by journalists that illustrates how to prioritize information.

In short, the inverted pyramid entails that you should lead with the most crucial piece of information first, followed by other important details and then finish with general information. That way, if your audience stops reading half way, they will still have taken away the most important announcements.

5) Reuse old content

Since most people don’t finish reading emails (and sometimes don’t even open them), employees will undoubtedly miss some information, so reusing content is a great way to increase the chances that they see important announcements.  You can find some tips for getting more people to read your messages here.

You might think that repeating content could get annoying, but fortunately, modern tools allow you to track your emails to the link level right from Outlook or Gmail, so you can see which announcements have been looked at and which haven’t. Keeping an eye on that granular information will help you understand what works and what doesn’t, leading you to write better emails every time you send something out.

What’s worked for you in the past?

These hacks have worked amazingly for our clients and us, but we’re always on the lookout for more. What are some of your best performing subject lines or emails? What has resonated in the past with your employees? Let us know in the comments below or tweet at us!