Improve Your Emails: 5 Email Copywriting Tips for the Public Sector

Whether it’s informing the public, responding to queries and complaints or convincing a senior leader to approve plans and projects, being able to craft an engaging and informative email is a pivotal skill for any public sector professional.

Today, we’ll go over how to identify the audience for your emails - internal and external - and key email copywriting tips to use for public sector email writing.

Email Copywriting Tips for the Public Sector

Types of Emails Used in the Public Sector

According to Granicus, email is the most widely used channel across all sectors’ communications strategies. often due to its security, ease of use and convenience. Here's 3 common types of emails used in the public sector:

Welcome Emails

Welcome emails are used to confirm your audience’s subscription or interest in an event. As this is potentially the 1st point of contact the reader will have with your brand or organisation, it needs to have a friendly tone and remain consistent with your brand or organisation style guide, So the reader recognises and is familiar with it. This can also be a good opportunity to sign post other forms of communication your organisation has, such as social media links or further contact information.

Informational Emails

Informational emails are used to inform your audience about a particular event or topic which might affect them. Many public sector emails are informational and are especially relevant if you work more closely with the public, such as in local government or healthcare. With informational emails, the public may lack the context of the information you are trying to convey. Therefore, it’s important to keep the information simple, easy to read and provide resources where the public can seek further information if they need it.

Calls to action

Calls to action, or CTA’s, are used to prompt the audience to take an action, for example to pay a bill or read an article. They can be their own email or may be included in other emails, though it’s important that CTA’s stand out from the rest of the email copy to catch the readers attention. This may mean including them in an image within the email or highlighting the CTA in different text format or sizes.

Here's a quick example for you here:

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The type of email you might send out and who you’ll send them to depends entirely on your role, though most emails can be distinguished between internal and external.

Internal Emails – What They Are and Examples

Internal emails are the emails you send within your organisation. They could be as simple as emails sent to fellow colleagues for follow ups on projects or tasks, emails sent to senior leaders to give progress reports or emails to other departments to collaborate or answer any queries. In some cases, internal emails may be more complex, such as newsletters which are sent to many employees or emails which contain personal information, such as pay slips or tax information.

In terms of tone, internal emails will often be casual if they’re towards a colleague you know, but they could be more professional and persuasive if you're speaking to senior staff. For example, to showcase statistics, research or introduce them to a new project.

External Emails – Examples and How to Target Your Audience

External emails are emails you send to contacts outside of your organisation. For example, informational emails by local government informing the public of policy, or health reminders by those who work in healthcare. The target audience may depend on your job role as well as the content of your email. Those who work in local government may find themselves often emailing the general public, whereas other public sectors, such as charities, may email external supporters such as sponsors or investors.

In some cases, external email contacts may not know who you are or why you're emailing. In this case, having a clear subject line and preview text is pivotal to making sure your email shows who you are and what’s inside. It is potentially the first time the contact will be interacting with your organisation - which is why you need to give a good first impression.

5 Email Copywriting Tips for the Public Sector

Whether your email is external or internal, here are 5 tips to keep in mind to ensure your emails are engaging and relevant for the intended reader.

1.      Identify the audience for your emails

While it might be easier to cast a wide net for your emails and send to as many people as possible, identifying the target audience for your emails allows you to contact the people who are most likely to find the content useful and avoids people associating your emails as spam. Having a contact regard you as spam makes it difficult to re-engage with them in the future for an email that might be more relevant to them.

2.      Ensure your content is relevant

After you have identified your target audience, ensuring the content is relevant to them is the best way to have them open and engage with the email, and in turn help you reach your goal for sending the email. Here, the subject line and preview text have significant importance as it’s the first thing they will see in their inbox. Depending on time constraints, personalising the email for readers, such as including their name, occupation or organisation goes further to engage the reader with the email, as they would feel it is something specific for them.

3.      Adapt the correct tone of voice

The tone of voice your email takes depends on the subject, intended reader or number of readers. For example, emails sent to large general public lists, such as local government notices or healthcare emails, are likely to take a professional tone that reflects upon the organisation. It’s important they are easy to read and accessible for a wide range of people. When sending emails to senior leaders  within your organisation or stakeholders, it may be beneficial to take a personable approach. This allows the reader to feel like they are hearing from an actual person rather than a mass email sent by an organisation.

We have further tips to manage stakeholders here.

4.      Co-ordinate emails with your team

Along with sending emails, you may find your receives a large amount of emails too. These could range from queries or complaints from the public, senior leaders seeking organisational information or assistance or information requests from other departments. Communicating with your team on the emails you receive avoids spending time on answering the same email that a colleague may have already answered. This also allows you to designate emails between each other, reducing the stress of workload.

Work burnout is a common issue in the public sector, so it’s important to be aware how to identify it and how to avoid it.

5.      Complete any follow-ups

In some cases it may be necessary to follow up on emails where a contact has asked for further information or you need to investigate something further. Forgetting to follow up with this contact may leave them feeling frustrated and it can also jeopardise an existing relationship you have built. Adding the follow up to a calendar and including a timeline ensures you’ll remember the email and will respond in a timely manner.

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