Today, email is one of the main forms of communication we have with one another. Unfortunately, there are some times when we send out an important email and then wait patiently for a response that never comes. It appears that it has traveled into the black hole of emails!
To make sure your emails don’t get swallowed by the black hole, there are some basic rules to follow regarding what to include and utilize in your email — and what to leave out! Here they are:
Keep the body short
Firstly, the body of the email…
The body is what is going to get read, or maybe skimmed over. You are hoping that every word gets read; however, if your emails look more like novels then that may not be the case. Keep the body short. Short is relative, and we must define this: three to five sentences is the maximum.
Why do you need to keep the body short?
Anything more than this starts to seem needy, especially if you don’t know the recipient. Neediness is an immediate turnoff for people. Once your brain senses any sort of neediness it goes into survival mode. Oren Klaff, New York Times Best Selling Author, describes it best, “Exposing your need to someone else makes them fearful.”
Write in a natural voice
Write as yourself. Do not use language that people won’t understand. Show the recipient that you are a real person writing this email and not a robot who is programmed to write.
This also goes for the salutation of the email. Don’t fall into the trap of writing, “Dear Sir or Madam.” Take the time to find out the recipient’s name. Use “Hi” or “Hello” if you know the person; “Hey” may even be acceptable in very informal working relationships.
Include one call to action
Note the one here. The more items that you ask for, the needier you sound. The call to action is essentially you asking the recipient for something that you want them to do. Ask for a meeting or a phone call. Or coffee on Wednesday. But do not ask for multiple items, such as, “Can we schedule a meeting for Tuesday morning on the phone and can you edit my latest book?” This asks for way too much from one email! The point is to get the email read and receive a reply back — not for someone to hit the delete button.
Closing your emails
Write words here like “Best,” “Cheers,” “Warm wishes,” or “Thank you.” The point here is to show that this is not automated. Writing “Sincerely,” “Best regards,” etc., screams to the recipient that the email is automated or that it is a general, impersonal email.
Email subject line
This is one of the most important things when it comes to either getting your email glanced over, or read. Personalized subject lines work wonders: for instance, “John Smith Suggested I Contact You.”
Create intrigue and utility within your subject lines. Chris Brogan, CEO of Human Business Works and another New York Times Best Selling Author, also has a few great subject lines including:
- YES OR NO: _______
- 2 MINUTES TO READ: __ (and the subject, briefly)
- NEED YOUR DECISION
- DINNER PLAN PROPOSAL
- PLEASE FORWARD HANSCOM’S LETTER
Putting all of the pieces together. Here is a sample email:
Subject: 2 MINUTES TO READ: CONGRATS ON THE BOOK
Congrats on the newly published book. I am a first-time author and truly amazed at your success. I enjoyed the topic of your latest book diving into your travel adventures in Spain, as I have lived there, too, and could relate. What is one piece of advice that you would give to a starting writer?
Emails are used every day, but the number of emails read fully is dwindling. Make sure yours get to the top of the pile, and then actually read and replied to, by following these simple tips.
There are so many people that just won’t get out of their email application to manage tasks. Mail Pilot: A New Approach To Email and Task Management [Interview]
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