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Having Union Communication Issues? Try an Email Newsletter

By Deborah Lynn Blumberg | Jun 17, 2019

Keeping your members up to date on union developments, educating them about benefits and building camaraderie are key aspects of your role as a union leader. Achieving all this requires union communication strategies that really reach members, and that might mean turning to digital touchpoints like email newsletters.

Here's why email newsletters are a good idea — and how to get yours started.

Why Go Digital?

On average, workers check email 15 times a day. They check their smartphones even more: According to Asurion, the average American looks at their smartphone 80 times a day. With workers increasingly glued to their devices, it's more likely members will see and engage with union communication delivered digitally.

Digital newsletters are convenient, too. You can design and send them from anywhere, and they ensure more consistent delivery. And unions that send digital newsletters no longer depend on a printer or the post office, eliminating the lofty costs of printing and mailing. This allows you to plan more nimbly.

Don't forget that when you deliver your newsletter via email, it's also trackable. Simple engagement metrics let you see how many members opened an email newsletter and which content they clicked on. Based on this data, you'll be able to tweak your communications and work toward the most effective messaging.

Finally, digital newsletters make it easy to prompt members to take action. For example, in a print newsletter you may include a link or directions to your benefits portal. Members have to remember that they want to visit the website and then manually type it into a browser. With a digital newsletter, on the other hand, they can simply click on the link and immediately connect with the content. This boosts the chances that members will leverage the resources you're directing them toward with your communications.

Digital Best Practices

Switching from print to digital communications means more than changing your method of delivery. Email newsletters have their own do's and don'ts. Up front, you may find you're dedicating more time to the project as you design a template and decide on a basic layout. But ultimately, as you become more familiar with the process, you'll save time.

Consider the following best practices for union communication via a digital newsletter:

  •  Create an eye-catching template. Spend time thinking about what you want your newsletter to look like. You may even want to design a special banner or logo. Choose calming colors and remember that less is more. Don't overwhelm readers with a dozen types of content, but choose the most important for them. Make space for high-quality images, which will grab readers' attention.
  •  Write engaging subject lines. Your subject line is the first information members see when your newsletter hits their inbox. No one will open your email if the subject line is confusing or dry, especially if they're bombarded with emails. Research shows that for almost half of recipients, an email's subject line is the central factor in whether or not they open it. So, keep your subject line short and catchy. Be mindful of using language or characters that could flag your newsletter as spam, like "free" or excessive exclamation points. Open rates also decrease significantly when the word "newsletter" is used in a subject line.
  •  Stick to a schedule. Pick a distribution day and time and stick with it. That said, figuring out the best time may require trial and error. You might have success sending your email at night — say between 8 p.m. and midnight — since people often check email before bed. However, there's also evidence that mid-morning during the workweek is optimal. Whichever you choose, you can make tweaks as needed after analyzing metrics. Depending on the program you use, you may also be able to set delivery times to ensure that members living in different time zones receive your newsletter at an optimal time.
  •  Keep mobile in mind. As you design your newsletter, you'll want to test it to make sure it renders well on various browsers and smartphones. The latter is key, as more than 55% of emails are now opened on a mobile device.
  •  Include a clear call to action. Make it easy for members to know what action they should take after reading your newsletter. Make links obvious and use engaging colors or graphics to flag your calls to action. 

As you plan your digital newsletter, remember that consistency is key. Consistency in design and delivery ensures that your members know what to expect — and look forward to — as they get used to your new form of communication.

With 15 years' experience writing for publications including The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, The Christian Science Monitor and Newsday—Deborah Blumberg specializes in business and finance and health and wellness. She writes about topics including corporate communications, financial markets, real estate, renewable energy, cancer, health education, nutrition, supplements, the microbiome and functional medicine. She was a Knight Center fellow and a Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism fellow. Her time working in marketing and communications at JPMorgan Chase taught her how to best tell a company's story. She's adept at turning complex ideas into compelling copy. She's also an officer of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and a Women in the Visual and Literary Arts board member, and she is fluent in Spanish.