HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

The One to Many Approach: implementing a one to many approach: deciding the type of message

A key part of your OTM approach will be the message you send to customers in order to influence their behaviour.

You should decide which type of message will best produce the desired response for the action required. This could include:

  • letters
  • emails
  • texts
  • telephone calls
  • local or trade media advertising campaigns
  • other digital channels.


You should consider the following to help you decide:

  • Subject matter - the content of your communication could influence the way you deliver the information.
  • Action required of recipients - what medium is most appropriate to convey the action you want customers to take?
  • The channel and approach for your message. What approach are you using for your communications? Your audience and the level of information you need to convey may influence the approach you use.  For example, is the communication with an individual running their own small-sized business, or is it to someone in the accounts department of a larger company?
  • Language and tone - different types of message will call for a different style of language and tone. Is that style likely to achieve the required response? Your language and tone must always meet HMRC standards developed by Corporate Communications for that message style.
  • Is the communication also going to the customer’s authorised representative?  If so, you need to ensure the format and content is appropriate for both the customer and their representative. You may choose to use a different message and/or approach for representatives where this will be more effective.
  • The segment of population you are targeting - what is the best way to convey a message to reach this population? Consider whether the recipients are likely to have access to the technology required to receive the communication (for example, mobile phone, or email address). If your population is not restricted to region you may also need to consider translation to another language.  For example if you are targeting taxpayers in Wales you may need a Welsh language version of your communication.  If so, the Welsh Language Unit can arrange a translation.
  • Number of messages per individual - you may want to start with a short message and then send a follow up message, or you may have just one message. Different types of message will be appropriate for each approach.


Corporate Communications will be able to advise you on different message styles. See CH600280 for details.