The days of the employee memo are gone, but email is alive and well as a critical means of internal communication. If you send an email, you want to make sure it’s read – all the way through. Try these four tips for making sure your internal messages get through.
1. Spend time crafting the subject line. The only way employees can read your message is if they open it in the first place! We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to create a clear, concise and action-oriented subject line. Something vague like “For all employees” or “Benefit information” doesn’t cut it. Learn more about crafting subject lines in past Business Writing That Counts! blog posts.
2. Don’t forget the From: line. Identifying the sender can help make sure employees open email messages, especially important ones. Large companies often use a consistent corporate address for mass mailings. Instead, set up your group message so the subject line and From: line clearly state who the sender is. If this message is from the CEO, then make it from the CEO! If you’re concerned about replies, you can set up the message to redirect them to an alternative recipient. Employees are much more likely to open the message, however, when they see it’s from the CEO, and when they receive messages from various people in the organization instead of always from the corporate address.
3. Picture your audience. While crafting any message, the writer has a point to make. But readers won’t get there unless you write in terms they A) understand and B) care about. If you write to employees about cost-cutting measures, for example, it probably makes less sense to mention shareholders or to get into details about financials. Instead, tell employees how the measures affect your ability to continue to operate and especially keep their jobs intact! If a complex message requires it, you can certainly write more than one email message. Simply divide your distribution list by management level or job function. “Personalize” the message for each intended audience to get a better
read-through rate and desired action.
4. Use active writing. After a day spent reading and writing technical or scholarly reports, it’s tough to switch gears. But your employees will rapidly lose interest in a long, stuffy message. When you write actively, you fill sentences with action verbs. Your sentences also tend to be shorter and more to the point. If you struggle to write actively, take a course or webinar or get help from your communications team when crafting important internal messages.
5. Step outside your office. This final point might hold true for all of your business communication, but certainly can help when writing your email. Use your own observations about your workforce, along with demographic data collected by the HR department, to understand how your employees prefer to communicate. Do they prefer short messages? Probably. Are they data lovers? Maybe? Do most of them read their email messages at their desks or on mobile devices? Depending on the type of work they do, chances are they use their smartphones! Consider this when crafting your email messages. For example, drill the information down and provide a link instead of an attachment.
See more tips on writing email messages that work for internal and external communications at Business Writing That Counts!. Do you want to improve on your email communication today? Give us a call at 425-485-3221. We are here to help with your career development.