November 5, 2020

Five tips for writing healthcare emails your employees will read

By Accolade


Email is a quick and cost-effective communication tool that allows you to broadcast important information about subjects like Open Enrollment and other healthcare and benefits issues to your employees. But getting your people to actually engage with the messages you send them is no small feat.

While Accolade’s frontline care team can help employees understand their options and learn what healthcare plan is right for them, employers need to make their teams aware of Open Enrollment timelines in the first place, and let them know how to Ask Accolade.

The same cardinal rule that applies to external email marketing also holds for internal communications - you must “win“ your employees' attention. These tips will help you hone your internal email communication strategy to drive engagement about employee benefits and healthcare.

Your subject line is precious real estate

One of the most essential parts of any email is the subject line. It’s how recipients determine whether or not the rest of the message is relevant to them, and if they should bother opening the email at all. So, a good rule of thumb is to keep your subject lines both short enough to read quickly and interesting enough to grab a reader’s attention. Research shows that shorter subject lines, between 30 and 39 characters, increases engagement and open rates.

Subject line brevity is even more important given the prevalence of mobile devices. According to research by Litmus , an email testing service, about 46 percent of emails are opened on mobile devices like on iPhones, meaning even more limited real estate to display your subject line. Make it count!

Who’s the sender?

The average worker spends a good chunk of each day checking email - about five hours, according to a survey conducted by the software company Adobe. Despite all that checking, reading every single message that pops into their inbox isn't a top priority for most of your team – even when they’re about important topics like their healthcare plans.

So how do you convince your busy employees to read your important message? 'Sending email communications from an executive leader at the company is a great option,' says Allison Card, Senior Solutions Manager for Member Engagement and Accolade Boost, whose team optimizes emails for thousands of Accolade members every year.

After all, it's hard to ignore a message from the boss!

Stay short and sweet

Suppose your subject lines are in good shape, but the actual message doesn't inspire much engagement. The easy fix is to avoid long-winded messages.

Instead, keep your messages concise and to the point. Attention spans are short, and people are very busy. According to the email-efficiency service Boomerang , the sweet spot for an email is between 50 and 125 words. This message length generated healthy 51 percent engagement response rates.

Think fitting your message into 125 words is a daunting task, especially when it comes to complicated messages about healthcare that may include changes to plans or premiums? Breathe easy, it’s not a hard and fast rule! The Boomerang study also reports that messages of 500 words (about a two-minute read) still had a 44 percent engagement response.

Consider your formatting

A good rule of thumb is to follow the inverted pyramid structure. Journalists use this format to write tight and exciting copy. The same rules apply to writing emails your employees will want to read. The most crucial information – and links or other things needed to act on it - is always placed at the very beginning of the email.

“Formatting your message makes a big difference,“ says Card. “Headlines will make it easier for readers to skim through the email and find the information that’s relevant to them. They won’t read everything, but you can provide critical information in headings and call to action buttons to get your most important points across and provide details underneath to make it easy for employees to understand next steps.“

Besides headlines and clear, concise language, incorporating plenty of white space makes reading much easier and quicker.

Email someone who cares

Don't assume that every message will resonate with every member of your company. Certain information may interest a specific segment of your workforce, but be of little or no interest to other employees. Try to be judicious about how many emails your team sends and take care not to overwhelm your employees with messaging, which can result in them becoming checked out.

“People start to become emotionally unsubscribed when you send them an email that they don't care about,“ says Card.

Now, of course, your employees wouldn't actually unsubscribe from your list. But according to Card, “They can develop a pattern of ignoring and deleting the emails that you send them because they believe these messages aren't relevant.“

Need help?

Accolade Boost drives targeted engagement and awareness about your team’s healthcare options, including third-party programs, employer benefits or clinical topics which you select based on your strategic priorities. We provide employers with the insights and content necessary to deliver high-impact programs that reach relevant members at the right time based on intelligence and defined outcomes. Examples of available Accolade Boost programs include Open Enrollment messaging, seasonal flu campaigns, and targeted activation programs with third-party telemedicine and disease management vendors.