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How to Write Effective Internal Emails: 9 Best Practices

Many people have a love/hate relationship with email. Most of us complain about the evils of email — and corporate communications teams look for ways to reduce it. However, employee surveys consistently show email as the #1 or #2 preferred way to receive company messages. Perplexing? Not really. Maybe it’s not the channel but the way we are using it. 

In this article, we’ll discuss what internal emails are, why they matter, and how you can write compelling internal emails that break through inbox clutter.

What is an Internal Email?

Simply put, an internal email is any email sent within an organization to other members or employees of the same organization. Internal emails are an effective communication method for disseminating information across an entire organization, although individual departments or teams may also use them among select internal groups. 

Types of Internal Communication Emails

Alongside your messaging applications, social intranets, and other communications channels, internal emails are only one piece of your greater internal communications strategy. However, their ease of distribution, performance tracking capabilities, and enduring popularity make internal emails a powerful tool for digesting long-form updates, such as:

How to Write an Internal Communication Email

Before you hit send, see how your draft stacks up to our best practices for writing engaging, trustworthy, and clear internal emails.

1. Intrigue Your Reader 

Struggling with low engagement in your internal messaging? Make sure you give your readers a reason to click on the rest of the message.

We have a few examples ideas to get you started:

  • Pose a question in your email that is answered in the “rest of the story” (i.e., Do you know the #1 thing that matters most to our customers?
  • Set up your story in the email and make the reader think, “and then what happened?” (e.g., “Yesterday was my first day working in a new role as part of a job swap on our team. No sooner did I sit down at my peer’s desk when I received my first big challenge.”)  

2. Write in Active Voice 

Compared to passive constructions, active voice gives your writing sharper clarity and empowers your readers with easy-to-understand directions. By writing in an active voice and using engaging “action” verbs in your emails, you also stand a better chance of holding the reader’s attention.

Let’s look at an example:

    • Active voice: Paula fixed the issue.
    • Passive voice: The issue was fixed by Paula.

3. Create Compelling Subject Lines

Email subject lines should not be an afterthought. These few words determine whether or not someone even opens your email! A “must-click” subject line is provocative yet accurate, short yet descriptive.

If you’re struggling to write the perfect subject line, use these ideas to get started:

  • Tie in a number or statistic. Fact: subject lines that contain a number have the highest open rates. (i.e., “Are you using the 3 most useful collaboration tools?”) Think about it – which headlines make you click on an email or Facebook post?
  • Write your email first, subject line second. Almost nothing is as formidable as the blank page when you’re just starting to write. By focusing on your email draft first, you’ll have a better idea of what you’re actually trying to communicate (and, therefore a better idea of what your subject line should discuss).
  • Create a sense of importance or urgency. Subject lines that feel time-sensitive can help boost your open rates and encourage team members to take any required follow-up actions. 

4. Write for the Scanner

Whether your team is balancing several projects or bouncing between message threads, most people in your organization are likely quite busy. Their time and attention is a limited resource — something all of your emails should bear in mind.

Creating scannable, easy-to-read emails ensures that even scanners get your key messages. The next time you see a long-dense paragraph in your email, think about breaking it down by using:

  • Bulleted lists
  • Eye-popping headings
  • Bolded or italicized text
  • Plenty of white space 

5. Vary the Delivery

The bedrock of most internal emails is your written content. However, mixing in other delivery methods can help reinforce key points in your message and create a more engaging reading experience.

Consider a simple selfie-style video or audio message recorded on your smartphone, and write a short email with the link to the file online. Include a graphic or photo with the email portion of your communication to help draw in the reader.

6. Focus the Message 

An internal email can quickly turn from a helpful source of information to an overwhelming deluge of updates. To ensure your audience comes away with the most important points, focus your email on one central thought and connect your “sub-thoughts” to that central concept to make it easy to follow.

7. Keep it Short and Simple

A new take on the K.I.S.S. principle, “Keep it short and simple” should be a guiding principle as you write. As best practice, keep to no more than 100 to 150 words in the body of your email. As you trim down your draft, remember that the email text can link to “the rest of the story” on a webpage. But it has to be interesting enough to make them want to click to read the rest. (See tip #1).

8. Tell a Story

Structuring your internal messages as a story often produces a more engaging piece of content that draws out the human elements of your email broadcast. An engaging story uses conversational, people-friendly language, relevant photographs, and compelling calls-to-action where your reader can “continue” the story. Consider structuring your communication as a complete narrative — with a beginning, middle and end — and feature people doing something tangible.

9. Involve Your Reader

Internal communication doesn’t have to be a one-way street. Depending on the subject of your message, you should consider opportunities to encourage replies to your message. Ask readers for their opinions or questions, or encourage them to add their examples of the topic you are addressing in your email

Frequently Asked Questions

Still, working through your internal email strategy? Consider these frequently asked questions.

What’s the Best Time to Send Internal Emails?

Data from WordStream suggests that Thursday mornings yield the highest open rates; however, it’s important to consider the many factors that could impact your organization’s email engagement, such as demographics, mobile-friendly email templates, frequency of communication, and work environments. 

Businesses and organizations who work in remote environments, for example, should determine a delivery time that accommodates everyone’s normal working hours as much as possible — keeping in mind that many organizations now operate in a global, matrixed environment.

What is an Internal Email List?

An internal email list is a roster of email addresses that includes all relevant members of your organization. Communications teams often have multiple internal email lists depending on who their target audience is (for example, a company-wide email list, department-specific email lists, and an email list for management teams).

What’s the Difference Between Internal and External Emails?

Internal emails are messages that are exclusively sent to other members of your organization. External messages, conversely, are emails that are distributed to customers, contractors, stakeholders, or other outside parties.

Final Thoughts

Internal emails are a fast, effective communication channel for businesses and organizations alike. The next time you’ve got a message to send, keep these tips in mind to ensure your readability is high! 

Ready to elevate your internal communications strategy even further? Read how Blue Beyond supports internal communication and employee engagement.

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