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6 Tips for Writing Emails That Will Get Opened

6 Tips for Writing Emails That Will Get Opened


    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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)

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    Last Updated on August 6, 2020

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

    “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

    Are we speaking the same language?

    My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

    When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

    Am I being lazy?

    When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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    Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

    Early in the relationship:

    “Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

    When the relationship is established:

    “Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

    It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

    Have I actually got anything to say?

    When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

    A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

    When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

    Am I painting an accurate picture?

    One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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    How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

    Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

    What words am I using?

    It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

    Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

    Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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    Is the map really the territory?

    Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

    A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

    I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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