This month we’ve been looking at a set of 5 core internal email templates that every communicator can use in their organization. In this post we’re going to look at a template that we’re calling the alert, which was designed for sending one-off critical internal emails to employees.
The idea behind the alert email template was to create a new format for quickly communicating important single-purpose messages by using consistent design elements like icons, commonly understood color relationships and whitespace.
Our ultimate goal was to create an email template that would allow a single update to be digested in 5 seconds or less by every recipient.
Re-creating the internal alert email
We’re big fans of the trend to combine updates into a single message to reduce the amount of emails that employees are receiving. So, it may seem odd that we’ve designed a template to send short single messages.
Are we talking about the dreaded memo here?
No... of course not.
Traditional email memos are:
- Often a wall of text with minimal formatting
- Potentially unclear and confusing
- Not important/time sensitive
Alert emails focus on effectively communicating a single message in five seconds or less.
To contrast, alerts are:
- Always mobile-friendly
- Always important/time sensitive
By communicating one-off messages in a standard way internally, every individual message is quicker to digest. This happens because when our brains don’t need to process the layout (but rather already understand it through familiarity), our eyes jump straight to the message.
It’s important to remember that accessibility is everything with alert emails -- they need to load quick and render important messages on employees’ screens right away, ideally with no scrolling on mobile. By strategically limiting elements in this template and focusing around a single message, these alerts are the some of the most mobile-friendly templates we’ve seen.
The elements of alert emails
Above are three different examples of this template in use to communicate everything from upcoming downtime to a crisis-level product recall. Notice how we’re all able to absorb the main message and importance of each email despite having the image switch every two seconds.
Why does this work so well? Let’s look at the elements of great alert emails:
This is where this template gets interesting. By creating a consistent visual language across multiple types of alerts, we’re creating habits and letting the template do a fair part of the work of communicating the actual message.
The header with logo block is included across our template library and connects your alert emails with the newsletter and other templates to reinforce fhe familiarity of the source -- savvy internal communications.
Internal email icons
By selecting an icon that emphasizes the topic and importance of message, we’re able to add meaning immediately and create a much stronger association with the message itself. With the release of this template, we’re including a library of twelve icons (all with color variations) that have been selected to help you make the most of the your alert emails out of the box.
This is a big leap forward from sending plain text internal memos.
Where we’ve encouraged the use of your primary brand colours in our newsletter template and other internal templates, the alert was designed to instead use color to communicate urgency and importance by using universal associations to the colors red, yellow and green. (These colors can be easily customized if desired.)
The headline element is straight-forward, as it really should be. By intentionally limiting the length, and using clear and simple language, we can ensure the message is as effective as possible. If you’re in the practice of writing multiple headlines and want to know which is likely to be most effective, alert emails are likely the best possible candidate for a 5-second test.
Below the headline, the body functions to provide any additional information or required actions. Depending on whether or not you’re including a link to an intranet or other, this section can be as long as needed (more on this below).
Call to action
Ideally, alert emails wouldn’t require a call to action because these types of messages can often be full communicated in the header and body. However, there are times when linking to an article article or page may make sense so we’ve included one in our template.
Below is an example of an alert email that contains an entire message, with the CTA removed. Here, the body of the message is used to provide more context and a bulleted list of required actions to complete:
The decision to use a call to action or not also relates to how accessible your intranet is, which we discussed in more detail when covering long-form and short-form internal newsletters.
Unlike a newsletter which may be intended to direct employees to the intranet, the purpose of alert emails should just be to inform. For this reason, the call to action should be literal (i.e. ‘read more’ or ‘more details’) rather than curious or creative.
Bonus: The pre-header
The pre-header is always a good opportunity to add meaning to your message before an employee opens it -- the first 70 or so characters are displayed in the preview pane in employee inboxes. Think of this as an extension of your subject line and use it for important updates. With this or any other template, you can add and edit the preheader text when you create your newsletter using a simple text block or adding it in the source HTML (at the top of the email).
Implementing single-purpose alert emails
Besides some of the examples we’ve suggested above, internal alerts are perfect for all of the important messages that other departments like HR or IT task your department are communicating.
Whether all messaging runs through the comms team or if departments send their own messaging, this alert template can be useful.
If sending through the comms team, these alerts will provide an efficient way to send other departments communications. Alternatively, you can enable departments to send messages themselves that adhere to your internal messaging standards.
Avoiding internal email overload
Single-purpose messages are both powerful and non-intrusive, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be sent too often. Once introduced to this format, it’s important to ensure that the template is being used strategically to maintain its effect. Using Bananatag’s email analytics you can get data on how each email has performed in terms of opens and clicks to ensure the trend is stable or positive.
Let us know how you would use alerts in your organization in your comments below. Also don’t forget to sign up for our webinar where we’ll be showcasing the alert and four other internal email templates as well as providing a download link so you can use them yourself!