Up Your Open Enrollment Game With These 5 Email Hacks

Employees at office_reform comms.jpg

A McKinsey & Company survey in 2016 found out that workers spend an average of 28 hours per work week on email, making it indispensable in corporate communications.

Given email’s powerful role in the workplace, it remains one of HR’s most important tools in announcing important company initiatives such as Open Enrollment. The challenge is crafting an Open Enrollment email that stands out above the rest. Well-crafted email cuts through an employee’s inbox noise and drives them to participate.

Email marketers who create and test emails for sales are generous with their tips and tricks in improving response rates. Their methods can easily be applied to internal communications as well. We’ve picked five that apply nicely to Open Enrollment and are fairly easy to implement.

Personalize the subject line with the employee’s name

Want that email opened pronto? Address the employee by his or her first name in the subject line.

‘A person’s name, is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language,’ said Dale Carnegie. Research by Experian shows that personalized subject lines increase email open rates by nearly 30%. 

To nudge open rates even higher, experiment with framing the subject line as a question (‘Got a minute, Jenna?’). The human brain is wired to answer questions, and a question mark in the subject line is a visual signal that triggers curiosity about the email’s content. 

Here are some helpful guides on how to personalize emails if you’re using Gmail or Outlook, two of the most common email clients in the workplace. Customization is also easy to do with popular tools like Mailchimp or Constant Contact -- check in with your IT department before doing so in order to circumvent any potential firewalls.

Make the email visual

According to research, people retain 10% of the information they’ve heard after three days. Throw in a visual, and they remember 65%. And in an age where email is being accessed on tiny screens, having images to break up blocks of text improves engagement and recall.

Email visuals can range from simple banners to GIFs. Aim for consistency, especially if you plan to send a series of emails. Some company HR departments have created themed Open Enrollments that are striking, memorable and spur action.

Benefits communication example_reform comms.jpg

Make sure, too, that any images you use are compatible with corporate branding. GIFs that are playful and quirky for an advertising conglomerate can also be considered inappropriate for a financial institution. When in doubt, check with your internal brand guardian.

Sprinkle CTAs throughout the email body

A CTA, or Call To Action, is a link or button on your email that drives a specified action. In the case of Open Enrollment, this is usually a landing page with more detailed information about plans and benefits and/or where the enrollment process kicks off. 

Having CTAs throughout your email body serves several purposes. Visually, it gives the eye time to ‘rest’ between paragraphs. It’s also a safeguard against email skimmers who may miss a link at the very bottom of the note. And with a variety of CTAs, you can test which ones work best to optimize future emails.

Some effective CTAs for Open Enrollment emails include:

  • Learn more

  • Evaluate options

  • Get more info

  • Watch this

  • Enroll now

The best CTAs stand out from the email copy and evoke urgency. This is a comprehensive list of CTAs meant mostly for retail, but it may inspire you to create -- and test -- some of your own for Open Enrollment.

Add a countdown timer to your email

Countdown timers are a great tool in reminding procrastinators to participate in Open Enrollment. They are either HTML coded timers or GIFs.

There are a number of countdown timers available on the market, some for free and some paid. eSputnik, which makes its own countdown timer, has a helpful blog post that outlines countdown timer features. It also shows how various email services work with them. 

Countdown timer.jpeg

Some popular timers are made by NiftyImages, Sendtric or MotionMail. It’s best to check with your IT department on which provider’s countdown timer can work with your corporate email. The best ones will refresh each time the recipient opens the email.

Send a high-five email to those who’ve enrolled

It’s normal to chase those who still have to enroll, but how about enlisting the help of those who’ve completed the task? 

You can do that by sending a cheery thank you email that congratulates enrolled employees. When done creatively, a share-worthy ‘high five’ email is bound to make the rounds of the workplace, reminding those who still have to enroll to get on with it.

Express appreciation in ways that are meaningful to staff. A high five email from the CEO is an unexpected, welcome way for top management to touch the lives of rank-and-file. This is especially relevant in larger, geographically dispersed companies where contact with top executives may not be a common occurrence. 

Have you tried any of these five email hacks for Open Enrollment? Let us know in the comments how they fared!


re:form communications has no affiliate relationships with companies mentioned nor does it collect revenue from any recommendations. So you can rest assured that our suggestions are completely independent solutions with only your needs in mind.