Whether you are a small business owner, a freelancer, a professional in a huge enterprise, or anything in between, you will definitely face the need to compose emails – lots of them. Consider all the individuals you may need to communicate with and with whom you will want a record of those communications:
- Internal emails to team members regarding projects and project completion
- Internal emails to superiors to report progress, to request resources, and to address any other issues that may be affecting the organization
- External emails to clients and potential clients
- Welcome emails to new customers or subscribers
- Emails to current clients or customers to announce new product or service lines and special offers
- Formal proposals
- Progress reports to clients regarding projects
- Contracts with new customers/clients for their review and approval
Just How Important are Emails to Your Business Success?
The short answer is that they are critical.
- Your reputation as a professional is affected by the emails you compose and send to others
- The content of your emails can engage, compel, persuade, make a case, provide instructions, educate, or inspire, depending upon your ability to craft them well.
- Emails provide a clear record of communication with others, without the need for paper files – they are simply more efficient
- Emails are convenient – they can be sent by or received on any device, no matter where sender or recipient may physically be
- While messaging apps may be even more convenient, they are limited in scope and cannot include the detail that an email can. Messaging is for very short communications. Emails have more “meat.”
Given all of this, it is probably time that you evaluate your email composition with an eye to improving its effectiveness.
Here are eight tips to do just that. As you read through them, conduct your own self-evaluation.
Short and Sweet
There is an old saying: “If I ask you what time it is, do not tell me how to make a watch.” The point is clear. When you send an email, it should contain all necessary information but nothing more. Think about your recipients. They want you to be respectful of their time, and they do not want to pour through irrelevant and unnecessary “fluff.”
The best remedy for getting too wordy and off-track is to make a pointed list of what needs to be in the email before you ever compose it. Put the points in the order you want to make them, and then write that short and sweet email.
Make the Subject line Count
So many people just breeze through their emails, even from business associates or companies they have done business with. If you want your email opened and read, then your subject line must be compelling and perhaps even a bit creatively written. Think of your subject line as a headline a journalist might write, especially if you are announcing something – a new product or service, a special offer, etc. If you have a tough time creating such subject lines, get in touch with EssayPro, a professional writing service with an entire department of creative writers/journalists who can come up with great subject lines for your emails.
And never skip a subject line, even if you and the recipient email one another every day. It’s easy to scroll through emails that lack a subject line.
Be Very Specific with Your Content
You have listed the points you are going to make. Now, do not “water down” those points with vague rhetoric. Each point you make must be very specific, so there is no confusion or question about what you are saying. Re-read your email several times and be certain that you have not been vague or too general in any of the points you are making.
If you are not clear with instructions, moving forward with something, etc. then the recipient will have to take the time to get back to you for clarification. It’s irritating, and it eats up your time too.
Insert a Call to Action When Appropriate
If you need a response, say so at the end of your email. For example, if you need additional resources to complete a project, ask for them and ask for a response to your request as soon as possible. If you have to revise a project you are completing for a client, then ask that client to review the revision and provide a timeframe to get back to you with their approval.
If you are announcing a new product or service, ask your recipient to get back to you if they have questions or need more detail. Newsletters may not need a call to action, unless you are making an offer and including a deadline, perhaps tying that offer to completion of a survey, etc.
Stay with Simple Language
It’s easy to want to sound very professional, and that can lead to the use of niche-related jargon as well as complex/compound sentences that readers will have to wade through, in order to get the real meaning. If you worry that your emails are too sophisticated, use a tool to check the reading level that will also make suggestions for simplifying what you are saying. Grammarly and Hemingway Editor are two good ones.
Find the Balance Between Stiffness and Casualness
You have lots of different types of recipients. And your tone and style will vary based upon your relationship with them. You may want to be a bit more formal with a proposal to a new client than you would be with the one you have done business with for a long time.
At the same time, as a society, we have become far more casual in our business communication, and that is a good thing. You will need to find the right balance for you and for your audiences.
About Those Attachments
This is an ideal way to provide the detail that you don’t want in your email content. And attachments can also be critical – proposals, contracts for signing, and such. NEVER fail to point your recipient to any attachment that you have included in the email. Often, those attachments are the real “meat” of what you want to achieve by this email.
Never hit the “send” button unless you have proofread your email. In fact, read through it at least three times. Are the sentences correct? Are there any spelling or grammatical errors? Does anything sound awkward? And this includes any attachments too. You never know the peculiarities of your recipients. They may be sticklers on grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and even punctuation. When they see errors, they can become irritated and certainly think a bit less of you. Your reputation is not worth making compositional errors. If you are not a skilled grammarian, find a source that is and use it.
Email communication is not going away. It is a mainstay of business communication of all types. You may be using it for a wide variety of purposes and for very diverse audiences. But these eight tips are universal. They will ensure that your emails are opened, read, understood, and acted upon as you need. Evaluate your own email communication against these tips and “if the shoe fits, wear it.”