There is more. "The industry has a tremendous opportunity to tailor the education based on different demographic segments," Collinson said. For example, boomers and millennials will differ in their issues relating to retirement, and customized information that addresses each group's specific concerns will penetrate better.
Women also have special issues related to retirement. "To this day, women are far more likely to take time out of the workforce, which leads to lower lifetime earnings, lower lifetime savings and lower lifetime vested benefits in things like company-sponsored retirement plans. And yet statistically, women live longer," Collinson said. Communications tailored to address women's issues around retirement will be more effective than generic information, she said.
TIAA-CREF's Moslander said his organization has found that affinity group communications are significantly more effective than the generic approach. They create information sessions tailored to women, LGBT employees, millennials and other groups, and reach out with invitations.
Employees who attend those sessions, he said, are much more likely to sign up for individual sessions where advisors work with employees on their personal retirement savings strategy.
Read MoreDo you need $2.5 million for a nice retirement?
The big challenge with all retirement plan information is cutting through everything else on employees' minds, Collinson said. "If you have a job, there is a good chance you are working really hard and tired at the end of the day. Brushing up on investment information may not be top of mind," she said.
Maybe so, but an occasional check to make sure you are on track is key to successful retirement saving.
"If I could get you to pay attention once a year, that would be a huge win," said Moslander.