Outlook Contact Groups for Internal Communications: Advantages and Disadvantages

Alex Cleary


in Internal Communications

With Outlook’s contact groups, users can send mass emails to their employees. But they aren’t without their issues. We examine the pros and cons of Outlook contact groups to see where it excels and where it falls flat.

Outlook is a powerful tool for sending mass email, but it isn’t always intuitive or cooperative. Outlook’s contact groups can cause users problems during set up and the sending process.

We’ll look at why countless businesses use Outlook for their internal communications, where Outlook struggles with mass emails, and what you can do to get the most out of your Outlook email.

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What Is an Outlook Contact Group?

An Outlook contact group is a list of emails that you can email as a singular entity. Rather than adding every recipient to your To: field, you can send an email to a contact group and everyone on that list will receive your message. 

Formerly known as a contact list or distribution list, a contact group is a convenient way to create different directories of emails. You can create contact groups for recipients based on language, location, department, or any other criteria relevant to your business. 

Outlook Contact Groups for Internal Communications: Advantages and Disadvantages

Contact groups can be great for organizing your mass emails, but they also have their fair share of drawbacks. We break down the pros and cons of contact groups for mass emails so you can decide whether they’re the right option for your business.

Advantages of Outlook groups

Outlook contact groups are a popular solution for mass emails for numerous reasons. Beyond being part of Outlook—one of the most popular email platforms for businesses—contact groups have several features that make it a useful solution for list-based email sending.

Create lists based on existing CSVs: A comma-separated values (CSV) file is a type of spreadsheet file that is used as an easy-updatable distribution list. Outlook contact groups can be created using your existing CSV files—which saves you the trouble of building your contact group from scratch. 

Organize your contacts: Create multiple contact groups based on different criteria. Sort your contacts by location, language, department, or any other relevant information. Organize your contact groups based on the type of internal communications you’ll be sending them.

Control two-way communication: Outlook contact groups allow you to set permissions for the recipients in your group. Members are those who receive emails sent to the group, while owners have the ability to add or remove members from the group. You can also set “trusted senders” who can send email to the group, but cannot access group content or modify membership. 

Disadvantages of Outlook groups

While contact groups offer Outlook users a convenient way to organize their email recipients, they are not without their drawbacks. 

Outlook email limits: Outlook email limits also apply to contact groups. Outlook limits you to 10,000 recipients over a 24-hour period. You are also restricted to 500 recipients per email, which can be severely limiting for larger companies. Every member of your contact group counts toward these totals. You can only exceed these limitations using an internal email software like ContactMonkey.

Ownership issues: For many businesses, email lists—including contact groups—aren’t controlled by internal communications teams, but rather the IT department. This is usually due to security concerns, but it can result in a lengthy process in order to create new contact groups or get existing groups updated. 

Manual updating: If an employee leaves your company, or if you have a new hire, then you’ll need to update your contact group. Unfortunately, this cannot be done automatically, and you’ll have to update your contact group manually. 

Lack of certainty: When you’re sending mass email to your employees, you want to make sure they actually read and engage with your email. Using contact groups, you have no way of measuring email metrics that can track whether your employees actually viewed your email or not.

The positives and negatives Outlook contact groups will vary depending on your business case. Ultimately you’ll have to weigh these factors to decide whether contact groups will help you achieve your internal communications goals or save you time sending mass emails. 

Why Use ContactMonkey Instead of Contact Groups

One of the biggest caveats of contact groups for business is the Outlook email limits. For companies with more than 10,000 employees, being limited to sending 10,000 per day can seriously hinder internal communications. 

With ContactMonkey’s Email at Scale feature, you are able to exceed the 10,000 email per day limit and have your mass emails sent up to 16 times faster than sending with Outlook alone. 

You are also able to avoid the pitfalls of contact groups altogether using ContactMonkey’s list management feature. Rather than using contact groups, you can build your own distribution lists directly within ContactMonkey, without the need for approval from IT:

ContactMonkey's list management feature.

Use ContactMonkey’s HRIS integration so your distribution lists will be automatically updated as employees join and leave your organization. In addition to this, you can build fully-responsive HTML email templates in Outlook and Gmail and even employee surveys using our email template builder:


You can also measure in-depth metrics using ContactMonkey’s analytics dashboard to determine how your recipients are engaging with your email. Track open rate, click-through rate, read time, opens by device and location, individual email opens and link clicks, and more—all from the same place where you create and send your mass employee emails:

Screenshot of ContactMonkey's email analytics dashboard.

ContactMonkey gives you superior functionality and more control over your employee emails than Outlook alone, while still using your existing Outlook inbox. This means your emails will never end up in your employees’ spam folders.


What is an Outlook contact group?

An Outlook contact group is a list of emails that you can email as a singular entity.

Why use an Outlook contact group?

Use Outlook contact groups to organize your employees into different lists, which can be based on criteria like department, location, language, or other relevant categories. 

Are Outlook contact groups automatically updated?

Outlook contact groups are not automatically updated, which means you’ll have to change them as employees come and go from your business. 

What are the limits of an Outlook contact group?

Outlook contact groups are restricted by the same limits as Outlook. Namely, you cannot exceed 10,000 emails sent per day and you cannot send to more than 500 recipients in a single email.

Supercharge Your Outlook Inbox with ContactMonkey

Outlook contact groups are a great resource for individuals who need to organize their email recipients. But for organizations with thousands of employees, the limits Outlook imposes its contact groups makes them poor candidates for employee mass emails. 

Use ContactMonkey to unlock the full potential of your Outlook inbox. Send better emails to all your employees—without worrying about Outlook email limits—and track your email engagement to help demonstrate the importance of your internal communications

Learn how ContactMonkey can help you optimize your internal communications by booking a free demo to see our email solution in action:

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