Best Practices For Delivering Content With Email

By Catherine Doyle & Najmah Salam

3 minute read

Within a solid learning content strategy, it’s important to dedicate resources to distribute content. In our Learning Content Strategy Playbook, we named this step ‘Reach People’.

Email proves to be the best channel when you lack a dedicated platform to reach learners or prefer a direct approach to distribute learning content and promote learning platforms. It has been proven to successfully boost engagement with stagnant and underused platforms.

It can also be a holistic approach to consuming learning assets, that isn’t restricted to internal content. This, in turn, leads to timely industry and cultural awareness. Curated and structured emails can also be a frictionless way to digest fresh content.

In this article, we’ll outline some best practices you can use to best deliver learning through email in these ways:

  • Choose your content and format
  • Use a dedicated email service platform (ESP)
  • Promote your email newsletter
  • Segment distribution lists
  • Optimise your emails
  • Measure performance
  • Test and iterate

Let’s get into it 👇

Choose your content and format

There are two main types of emails that you can consider as part of your learning programme.

  • Automated - These are emails, or a sequence of emails that are sent when triggered. A trigger can be when someone signs up through a from.
    • Best for creating welcome or onboarding emails.
    • You can also use automated emails to create a course that is distributed by email over a number of weeks.
    • Reminder ‘nudge’ emails are another example of dynamic emails which have been proven to drive engagement with learning content.
  • Scheduled - These are emails you would send at a regular cadence, be it weekly, fortnightly or monthly.
    • Best for ongoing, fresh content - think newsletters, company events, aligning with company goals.

If you’ve conducted a learning survey recently, you can use the data to inform the content of your learning newsletters. You can also use the data from your LXP if you have one to understand what content would be most relevant to your audience.

Planning a content calendar ahead of time can help you be strategic. You can use several productivity apps like Notion or Asana, or even use a simple spreadsheet to keep on track.

The content you curate can be internal or external, but most importantly must be fresh and relevant. Content will be highly influential when it supports your internal L&D initiatives and events.

Use a dedicated email service platform (ESP).

Some well-known examples are Mailchimp, MailerLite or Constant Contact. These services are focused on creating user-friendly experiences to efficiently and safely send mass emails.

Consult with your IT on any limitations around security and firewalls and what’s possible within your current tech stack.

🚧 Note: Ask for opt-ins! People need to be invested for your program to succeed and therefore need to give consent.

Promote your email newsletter

There are several tactics you can use to ensure that your team are opting-in to this initiative.

Internal promotion from your champions, leaders and managers can be the most effective way to promote a learning newsletter.

💡 Holding a webinar where key stakeholders talk about the benefits of opting in would be an effective way

Be sure to promote the benefits of signing up, focusing on what’s in it for your audience.

💡 Get a preview of an email newsletter you sent and show that on the signup page to so people will know what to expect.

Segment the distribution lists based on job roles and interests

At first, focus on highly engaged people to get a sense of what might work or not. You can use a focus group of champions to get their feedback to iterate upon your initial proof of concept.

From there, you can consider segments of people that would benefit most from receiving email newsletters.

💡 Use your signup form to create segments that relate to your own internal learning goals, ask about preferred format and cadence - but keep it short!


Optimise your email newsletters

To ensure that your emails are easily digestible, be sure to follow these best practices:

  • Create a clear and concise subject line.
  • Use preview text to entice readers to open the email.
  • Determine the appropriate length of the email. You can test different layouts over time.
  • Use engaging visuals to break up text and communicate the message of the content at a glance.
  • Use a clear and concise writing style - know your tone of voice.
  • Provide clear calls to action for readers to engage with the content - make it easy for users to engage.
  • Leverage personalization to increase engagement.

💡 For ideas on great email layouts to take inspiration from, you can use email gallery websites like Really Good Emails.

Measure performance

Monitor and analyse engagement metrics to continuously improve the email newsletter strategy. The main metrics to observe are open rates, click rates, and unsubscribe rates. You can view an explanation of these metrics and others to be mindful of here.

While there are benchmark metrics available online to compare, the best benchmarks will be to average the performance of your emails over a period of time.

It’s a good way to measure the popularity of certain topics in your ecosystem by measuring content clicks.

Test and iterate

Most email providers will have the ability to A/B test your emails. A testing strategy from the outset will help your emails perform at their best.

Some ideas to implement could be:

  • Monitor the busiest times on your LXP, and then send content at those times.
  • Alternate tones for subject lines, such as informative versus fun or casual.
  • Email length, whether it’s long-form or short form.
  • Content type: are short videos outperforming articles or podcasts, utilize this information to build a better understanding of what your learners like.

To ensure that your learning content reaches the right people, email can be one of the most effective channels to do so. By using channels that individuals in your organisation you already use, you can ensure that structured and fresh assets can land in their inboxes, creating a user-friendly experience.

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