Email is my favourite medium of communication.
It’s personal, easy to execute and takes little time. In today’s world, it is the easiest way to get in touch with somebody…no doubt about it. However, it does take a bit of planning and requires you to put in some thought before you actually compose a message. Your friends and family may be delighted to receive an email from you, but this might not be the case when you are writing with a business purpose in mind.
The more influential a person is, the busier they are. They might be receiving hundreds of emails in a single day. Unlike most people, they don’t open each and every single email; instead they scan through the subject lines to see which ones catch their eye.
You won’t get any closer to your goals unless they actually open your email – and read it. Here are 6 tips that will greatly increase your chances of emails being read — and responded to.
1. Clarity of Purpose
Before you even put your fingers on the keyboard, think why you want to write the email (its purpose) and what you want the recipient to do (action). Gather all the information you need to provide.
Here are some reasons why you want to approach someone who is very important to you:
- Get in touch with an A-list blogger to pitch a guest post
- Let a famous author know how much you admire their work
- Seek a referral from someone
- Want to interview somebody important
- Approach a prospect to sell your services
Notice all the reasons for connecting with someone are vastly different from each other. By being clear in your head you can produce coherent, concise, and effective emails.
2. Effective Subject Line
Compose a subject line that tells them why they need to open the email. Do not send out messages with vague or dogdy subject lines:
- Please read this (or) Can I have 20 seconds of your time? (Don’t beg for attention)
- Very urgent (Unless it is, and it will still benefit by adding more information)
- Hello (Refrain from one word subject lines that say nothing about the message inside)
- Can I take you for lunch to pick your brain? (Making a request is a huge no-no!)
- Invitation to join our affiliate program (Making the message sound like it is automated and coming from a website or an online service)
- Free gift for you inside (Spammy – avoid at all costs even if you are sending a token of appreciation)
Say what you need to say immediately, preferably in the subject line if possible. People are too busy these days and if your subject doesn’t interest them, they will not click on it. Write a subject line that sums up the purpose of your email (refer to point 1). If you are not entirely clear on your message, you will find it hard to write an interesting subject line that will entice the reader to open it.
3. A Friendly Salutation/Get to the Point Quickly
When writing to someone you don’t know, it is better to start with a ‘Hello’ instead of saying ‘Dear Mr Smith’. This is too formal and out of place for informal communication such as email. When you write to someone known to you, just say ‘Hi (Name)’. Don’t try and go overboard unless you know them outside of professional circles.
Email is meant for simple, quick communication. Say what you want to say, say it quickly, and say it just once.
4. Clear Communication
Make the purpose of your email clear. Let them know how it relates to them, otherwise your email will get deleted in short order.
They can’t see your body language or tone of your voice to gauge whether you are kidding or not. There is a greater possibility of your emails being misread. Jokes usually do not transfer well, especially when writing to somebody for the first time.
Remember these principles of effective communication:
- Replace longer words with shorter ones.
- Keep your sentences short; use fewer and shorter paragraphs.
- Break up your paragraphs and use bullet points to make it easier to read on the screen.
- Pay attention to your spelling and grammar.
- Edit for jargon. If not, you convey lack of attention to detail and may portray an unprofessional image.
- Keep it brief, short and concise. Don’t ramble.
- Give complete information; the recipient should not have to get back to you for more information. Avoid the possibility of confusion and delays.
- Do not provide lengthy background information. Attach a file if extra information is required.
- When writing in response to somebody’s email, mirror their approach. How do they usually communicate with people? Did they write two sentences to your four paragraphs email? Match their style to achieve results of your writing efforts.
5. Informal — Yet Courteous
Write as if you are talking to them. Keep it conversational, yet never say anything you wouldn’t say to somebody’s face. When feeling emotional, write your email and save it as a draft. Go over it when you are feeling calmer and revise. Always write polite emails.
Always think of email as being public. Presume any email you write can be read by anybody else — and write accordingly.
6. Clear Plan of Action
What do you want them to do?
- Perform a specific action. They need to give you more details on a project.
- Respond with information. They need to confirm if they are available for a conference call the next day.
- Read only. They need to read your message to clearly understand something. No response is necessary. You are away and need to reschedule a meeting. You will contact again.
End with short thank you. And don’t forget to add an email signature, your contact details, website, etc. Always write a business email with this point in mind: everyone is busy and gets a lot of email.
Follow these tips and you’ll not only be able to send better emails, but you’ll send ones that are worth getting opened.
(Photo credit: Button Mail via Shutterstock)