How to make your messages meaningful

James Barrass-Banks shares a few tips on how to create truly great emails which will drive engagement in your L&D activities.

Reading time: 4m 30s.

Whether you’re an internal L&D professional wanting your internal stakeholders to sit up, pay attention and engage you or an agency wanting those that have been on your training to benefit further from what you do these tips can help you all. This article will also include background strategy to help you develop your own unique and engaging messages.

The strategy

The strategy behind great messaging comprises of three parts. The first part is to have a clearly defined value proposition, which is the broad promise of your department to the rest of the business. The second part is making it more relevant to the audience by understanding how to position your promise to different audiences.

If you think about it, the promise will be different depending on who you talk to. As a result there can be multiple positioning statements to each audience.

Third and finally, core messaging and storytelling. These relate to defining, before writing any emails, what you are seeking to say to the audience. With core messaging this is one line for each email and for storytelling it’s a question of mapping out the different parts of the story and what each will teach the audience.

The tips

These tips will help you to enhance any emails you send to the company or large numbers of people. In an age of shortening attention spans, these tips will allow you to cut through the inbox clutter and deliver your message.

Why should the audience care?

When reviewing a message take a moment to stop and think about how what you’re writing is relevant to the people you’re talking to. More specifically, why should they care and what’s in it for them? By doing this you put the audience first and more often than not give them a reason to do what you’re asking them to do.

Long winded and winding emails are nobody’s friend and often feature more complexity than is necessary.

Have a clear call to action

At the end of every message, and sometimes during, you want to have a clear action that you want the person receiving this message to take. Whether it is to sign up to a course, to ask questions or to log into your LMS. They are all important. They also need to be made clear. Make sure you highlight their significance and ensure that they don’t get lost within your email.

Summarise the purpose of the email in the first line

People and managers are busy, as and they’re often too busy to engage with the L&D team. As a result the first line should clearly communicate the value of reading on. Keep this hyperbole-free and to the point for maximum effectiveness. Imagine an email to tell people about the upcoming course an example of a first line would be:

‘Hi Team, we’ve got a number of exciting new courses coming up this quarter with details of how to sign up and improve yourself below’. It clearly states what the email is about and saves your audience from doing too much thinking.

Write in a simple, concise and easy-to-understand way

To communicate effectively, you want those within the business to understand exactly what it is you’re trying to tell them with as little confusion as possible. So ditch the long words, the acronyms and any technical jargon and get your point across.

Supporting this, you want to keep messages brief to ensure that the message is understood and Grammarly agrees. Long winded and winding emails are nobody’s friend and often feature more complexity than is necessary.

Spell check and proofread

It is too easy just to send an email out once you’ve done all the hard work of writing it but it really does pay to have a colleague proofread and spell check it. Bad grammar and spelling can make a significant impact on the credibility of a message. Plus you can see if the point you’re trying to communicate comes across clearly.

Use the company branding and colours within your messages

The use of company branding and colours helps in two ways. First it makes emails more visually appealing and breaks them up from the norm of blocks of text. Second it builds a sense of community, trust and authority as your messages and announcements look like others that people are used to receiving. It’s a small change but it can make a difference.

Bonus tips – how to grab attention with headlines

Here are three simple ways to upgrade your email headlines:

  • Add emotion – Use emotive words to get your internal readers to be as excited as you are!
  • Ask compelling questions – Asking questions in your emails that people can’t ignore will pique their curiosity and encourage them to open your email e.g. Can we show you the secret to improving your leadership skills?
  • Be specific – Use details that are relevant and specific as possible. This detail makes your headlines more personalised and as a result more engaging to your readers.

Those tips will allow you to create better emails and drive engagement. There are a broad range of other changes you can make which will undoubtedly improve what you are doing it’s really a question of time vs effort.

From my perspective having a clear purpose, being relevant and starting with an engaging headline are the keys to successful email.

If you’re looking to learn more about using marketing techniques for L&D have a look at my other articles in this series:

  1. Uncovering L&D’s secret weapon
  2. Why understanding yourself helps your company


About the author

James Barrass-Banks is the marketing manager at MTa Learning with a thirst for knowledge and a love for growing & developing people. You can read more insights on his blog here.


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