The 7 Components of Benefit Communications

Getting employees to take action on benefit communications is challenging. Inboxes today are more cluttered than ever and the reality is that many emails are ignored – sometimes by accident. The good news is that there is valuable science and research behind successful communications and it is fairly simple to borrow these findings and apply them to your benefit communications. The next time you craft an employee communication, keep these 7 components and tips in mind:

  1. Subject Line: Short and sweet subject lines often work best, though it is important to test this with your population. Individuals typically only read the first 30-50 characters and respond better to personalized and familiar words (like company name). Make sure you focus on the benefit at hand and keep the content focused.HelloWallet Example: In our research, referencing the company name in the subject line before announcing a new benefit significantly improved email performance. Familiarity increased open rates by 8% and it only took 17 characters!
    Company X Associates, Introducing a new tool from your 401(k) plan!
    Open Rate (%) = 39.17%
    Introducing a new tool from your 401(k) plan!
    Open Rate (%) = 35.15%
  2. Design/Layout: When it comes to communications, looks matter and so does mobile. Talk to your design team about creating a beautiful benefit communication email template and ensure the email looks good on mobile as well as web. Many of your team members likely have smartphones that you can send test messages to before deploying them more broadly to ensure that your emails look beautiful on mobile as well as web.We all read text in an F-shape pattern (visual below), giving the most attention to content in the top left of an email and skimming or skipping text as we move down.  So place your content accordingly. People pay the most attention to the beginning of an email – they spend 80% of their time on the first screen of text and rarely read below that point.
    F Shaped Patterned Reading

    Source: http://usabilitynews.usernomics.com/2006/04/f-shaped-pattern-for-reading-web.htmlMake your email easy to scan quickly by including clear sub-headings, bullet points, and images that people want to look at.
  3. Sender Name: Generally, it is more effective to send emails from a person that employees know rather than from a generic department. Have fun testing different members of the benefits team as the email sender and see who produces the best open and click-through rates. The key is to test, as it is sometimes impossible to know what will resonate best with your employees.
  4. Headline: Make clear why your benefit communications are relevant to your employees and what’s in it for them. Employees also love free, so be sure to emphasize that in your communications if the benefit or thing you’re talking about is in fact free for your workforce.Ensure that your employees understand just how easy acting will be for them. Two ways to do this are listing the amount of time, or the number of steps, that are required (as long as it really is easy!) For example, “5 minutes to better benefits” seems more manageable than “Easy steps to better benefits.”
  5. Call to Action (CTA): Instruct your employees to take a clearly specified action. In each email, you should only have one easy to see, focused call to action.HelloWallet Example: In our research, incorporating a simple CTA that appears easy and achievable has been most successful. We tested this concept with the text on the button employees were asked to click to create a HelloWallet account. Check out the click rate results:
    Click Rates (%)
    Get My Account – 8.5%
    Start Today – 5.5%
    Get My Free Account – 6.9%
  6. Main Content: This is where most of your content will be. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that if employees haven’t gotten the core idea from the subject, header, and CTA, you’ve already lost them. Put the details here, but keep the design in mind and make it just as easy to read as the rest of your email.
  7. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile:Did we mention how important mobile is? A great statistic to know is how many of your messages are opened on a mobile device versus web. And in addition to ensuring that your communications are designed for mobile, think about whether or not the action you are promoting can be accomplished on mobile. Can your employees actually do what you’re asking of them on their phone?

Once you start incorporating these components into your internal communications make sure you are tracking them appropriately and learning from each one. To learn about the email metrics you should be tracking check out this post.

Comms Testing Banner

Lacey is the team lead focused on B2B demand generation for Morningstar’s growing Workplace segment. This includes responsibility of marketing strategy and execution with plan sponsors and key providers to expand Morningstar’s market reach. The Workplace umbrella includes financial wellness and retirement products for employees as well as custom models and fiduciary services. With products, services and thoughtful marketing, we strive to empower companies to help employees build financial wellness today and get ready to retire when the time comes.

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