Writing effective emails is really tricky. I’d go so far as to say it’s actually a bit of an art form.
None of us have time to read the dozens of daily messages swirling around in our inboxes as it is. Sometimes we don’t even get to the ones that are important to us, much less the ‘sleazy-salesy’ ones, the ‘way-too-long’ ones, or the completely irrelevant, ‘how-the-hell-did-they-even-get-my-email’ ones.
If you’re struggling to write your business emails, or you’re not getting the responses you would like from the ones you’re sending out, here are few tips to help you get noticed:
This is probably the most important thing you need to focus on. The right subject line will get you noticed and hopefully get people opening your emails. Your subject line needs to be brief, meaningful and descriptive.
Which one would you open first?
Receive 10% off tomorrow night only at our city store
A sweet discount off your next home delivery
Brevity is best
Write succinctly and keep your email as short as possible. It’s best to limit your email to five or six bullet points or a couple of paragraphs. Don’t make the reader scroll, anything beyond the first screen is unlikely to be read.
Make the first paragraph a single, well-written sentence that builds from/repeats the subject line.
Call to action
Include only one idea or action per paragraph, and try to keep paragraphs to three sentences or less. If you have multiple action items, number them. People are much more action-oriented when they’re online.
State up front what action you want them to take as a result of your e-mail (e.g., FYI, follow up on work items, please review and reply by 3pm Friday, click to intranet page).
Use subheadings to break up your copy and then link to more info on your website. People tend to only glance at email messages. Help them to absorb key points in a hurry.
Colours and spacing
Use black text on a white background only, anything else is hard to read. Use hard returns to create line breaks, making white space so your message has visual breaks. Align text and any images to the left.
Avoid using CAPITALS as it is considered to be SHOUTING!
Avoid using jargon and abbreviations, if you’re great aunt Mary cant understand it then you need to go back and revise.
Make it fun
Try to use humour wherever you can, this will make your email stand out from the rest and be remembered.
If it’s that urgent, don’t email it
Don’t mark emails high priority or urgent, as people probably already have many ‘urgent’ emails to deal with. Similarly don’t use the words URGENT or IMPORTANT in the subject line of an email. If your message really is urgent or important then email is not the best method to be using; the telephone is probably better.
Don’t be annoying
Don’t request a read-receipt – this will almost always annoy your recipient before they have even read your message. Many people consider this an invasion of privacy and usually delete.
The most important thing
Check spelling and grammar. Proofread your emails or have someone look over it for you before hitting send. If someone hasn’t taken the time to give what they’ve written a once over before sending to me I will almost certainly delete. Of course there are times when it’s an honest oversight but if the email is full of typos and grammatical errors I will treat it the same as spam.