A lot of businesses focus on improving email marketing and creating amazing newsletters for their customers. What about all the other hundreds of emails you send in the course of your week?
Whether it’s business development, sales, partnerships, operations or networking, crafting excellent professional emails is a critical part of growing your business and career.
This is not a stuffy lesson in “business email etiquette” insomuch as a lesson in getting what you really want: people to read your emails, and to respond. Here are a few simple approaches to try:
1) Summarize your message briefly in the subject line
Vague subject lines don’t entice people to open emails; busy people will lose patience with ambiguous emails and skip over them. Get to the point in the subject line.
2) Use terms like “Urgent” at the beginning
Using a term like “Important” and then a colon or a dash followed by the subject will create a sense of urgency. The reader may suspect the email is spam, but oftentimes they will open the email just to be sure they aren’t missing something important.
3) Make it personal
Establishing a personal connection off the bat can potentially increase chances of email clicks, but if it feels forced it can backfire. Using people’s names in the subject line occasionally works, but this tactic has become somewhat overused. You can also try a subject like “Our Phone Call,” which may cause them to wonder if they have a scheduled phone call with you. Be sure to specify in the body of the email that you are referring to a phone call you are planning to schedule with them, so you don’t appear deceptive.
1) Start with “You”
This is a basic tenet of business writing that applies to sales and beyond. Start off by addressing what the reader really cares about: themselves. Try phrases like “you mentioned” or even complimenting them, e.g., “I’ve heard you’re the best at _____”. It doesn’t hurt to finish with a “you” sentence either, to bring the topic back to them.
2) Address only one topic
Avoid discussing several ideas or requirements in one email, they’ll most likely get lost in the fold. You’ll get a lot more responses if you break emails up into one topic each. This can be extremely useful for business operations and management.
3) Be concise and use bullet points
This may seem a little terse, but in reality it shows a respect for the reader’s time. Don’t write long paragraphs; create a quick outline with short bullet points. Try to keep it less than four sentences, wait until you get a response to write longer emails.
4) Spell check, with your own eyes
Most browsers and email programs have a built-in spell-checker but it won’t catch all of your mistakes (such as “to” instead of “do,” or “they’re” vs. “their”). Particularly if you’re emailing an individual for the first time, a glaring error can give him or her reason not to take you seriously.
5) Include a P.S.
People often read the very beginning and the very end of a page. P.S. is often seen as less serious, and much less effort to read.
6) Be mindful of your tone
Remember that sarcasm and irony are difficult to convey via text, particularly if you’ve never met this person. A facetious tone can be easily misunderstood, and should be approached carefully.
1) If you have a mutual acquaintance, reference them
Mention your personal reference in the beginning of the email, or even in the headline if it’s a significant enough connection. If your mutual acquaintance is willing to make the introduction for you, you will increase your likelihood of a response.
2) Direct your message to one person
If you email a handful of people nobody will feel like they are directly responsible for responding. Email one person in the “To” column, then you can feel free to “Cc” others who you feel are important. Be sure to address the person to whom you are directing the email by name.
3) Follow up until you get a response
Continue respectfully following up every 2 or 3 days until you get a response. Keep the messages incredibly short. You may also try a specific approach after sending your first email; send an immediate follow-up email with a subject line starting with “And…” or “One last thing…” Two emails gives your name greater presence in their inbox, just be sure not to do this more than once.
Article by Rochelle Bailis
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