Trying to communicate to your learners but not getting through? Whether you’re trying to promote availability of your learning programs, a mandatory training program or timely performance support tips, it can be hard to ignite action. Most organizations still rely on email to convey these key messages. What can we learn from the marketing industry when it comes to breaking through the email clutter to reach our learners?
According to Lifewire.com, about 281 billion emails are sent every day around the world, and the average professional receives 121 emails each day. Some of these emails are irrelevant and overpopulate inboxes. Your learners are probably deleting certain emails based on sender and subject lines. In order to entice opens and communicate effectively with your learners, you need to tailor your email style to fit their busy schedules, generate interest and create impact.
To prevent your training emails from being tuned out like the rest of the inbox over-loaders, consider these seven factors before hitting “send.”
1. Email Length
There are two rules when it comes to email content: Keep it short, and keep it focused. You should aim for a two-minute read maximum; 400 to 500 words will do the trick. Your learners are busy and do not need added irrelevant text. For example, if you’re marketing your course offering, provide details like system requirements or LMS log-ins on another screen.
This brevity rule applies to subject lines, too, as the shortest ones perform best. Aim for six to 10 words, and include words that will generate interest.
2. Email Frequency
A constant stream of “FYI” emails over time can become overwhelming for busy professionals and will elicit an “I am too busy for this” reaction. Broadcast corporate emails sent once a week usually perform well, which likely means that your training message will be part of a greater corporate communication email. Figure out what information is important, and use concise language and relevant visuals to convey it.
There might be important information that will not fall in this weekly schedule. Your learners will likely be fine with additional emails as long as they are brief and relevant. They will not ignore information that is important to them.
3. Send Time
Emails that are at the top of your trainees’ inboxes when they arrive at work in the morning, especially early in the week, likely receive the most readership. By that logic, your broadcast emails will be more effective at 8 or 9 a.m. on Monday or Tuesday rather than on Thursday or Friday afternoon.
It is also important to keep a consistent schedule, so that your learners know when to expect your emails. This expectation will improve their attention to your communication. Research shows that a consistent email schedule improves opens and click-through rates.
4. Delivery Platform
We open about 55 percent of the emails we receive on our mobile devices. In addition, most of your learners likely switch between multiple devices regularly. It is imperative that your emails are optimized for display across all platforms: desktop, web client, tablet and mobile phone. Since mobile device use has the most traction, a mobile-ready design should no longer be an option but a must in keeping your learners engaged.
5. Email Content and Design
Email content should generally be brief and concise but complete with sufficient information if your learners need to take action. They can also contain a few relevant and eye-catching images. Emails that have a high image-to-text ratio usually have higher readership than text-dominant emails, according to PoliteMail’s 2018 “Email Measurement Insights and Best Practices Guide.”
As for design, your emails should look professional and not cluttered. Predesigned templates with editable layouts and elements will save you time and help you stay on brand.
6. Your Readership
Millennials have overtaken baby boomers in the workplace and are projected to make up almost half of the workforce by 2020. If your learners are predominantly millennials, you may need to learn how to engage them. Adapting your email strategy to your predominant generation will lead to greater impact.
Apart from adapting to your general training audience, it is important to segment your lists. A smaller list yields better engagement. Segment your audience, and choose recipients based on departments, relevance and behavior to improve readership rates.
7. Email Metrics
Even after applying all the best practices, feedback is important in measuring engagement and improving your strategy. After each email deployment, take note of the email metrics. While open rates only measure your reach, click-through rates, attention rate and reading percentage provide more insight into engagement. Study the metrics, and adjust your practices accordingly.
Given the importance of your key training messages, apply these email best practices from marketers to ensure that learners are actually reading your emails. As for other training messages, cut out non-priority emails, or deliver them through other channels, like your website, to ensure that your employees are receiving the messages that matter most.