Did you know that more than 3.1 billion people worldwide have email addresses?
Despite the rise of social media, email remain effective and are one of the primary means of communication, both personally and professionally.
In fact, within a corporate environment email is the dominant form of communication. This is despite the introduction of new applications such as Slack and Hipchat that allow for instant communication.
Given the importance of email to an organisation it’s important you how to write an effective one. To achieve this you need to consider the person you are sending it to and how much time they have to consume what you have written.
Interestingly enough recent research indicates that email response rates vary greatly with age.
The older you are, the less likely you are to respond to an email.
In addition to that people often send emails when the better solution is to just pick up the phone and make a quick call. Putting that aside though, what are the common mistakes people make when trying to write an effective email.
Writing an email that is too long
It is actually recommended that 90% of your emails should be a single paragraph.
Because, lengthy emails are bulky to read. One look at the email and the recipient will be overwhelmed. They will either skip it entirely or give it a curiosity glace and not get to the meat of the issue you are trying to discuss.
Try and get your emails short, and to the point. This is especially important if you are sending a cold email or an email to a senior executive who is short on time.
Sending unnecessary emails
A great way to get your emails ignored is to send unnecessary emails. This not only reduces the effectiveness of the email you are currently sending, but all future correspondence as well.
If you get known as someone in your organisation who sends pointless emails on a regular basis people will just end up automatically skimming or deleting your emails without much though.
To write an effective email you should always link it with a relevant agenda. You should either be asking a short question, confirming details or passing on important information.
Don’t waste time (or words) with fluff. You should make your email clear and to the point.
Only include relevant people
No one likes being copied into an email chain that is not relevant to them or their job. It clogs their inbox and they often end up skipping over these emails anyway, potentially missing the one time you actually need them to comment on something.
A better approach is to send that person a quick summary email to keep them abreast of what is happening. If you require their response or action on something then you should also send a direct email.
A direct email is more effective because it will get you a direct response. If someone is copied into an email and your request of them is halfway down the page it is easy to miss.
An effective email has an effective subject
People often triage emails based on the subject or heading. When they get into work or have time to work through their emails they will often look at the heading and start with what appears urgent first.
To write an effective email heading you should reference the idea/project/customer and provide a clear overview of what is being discussed in the email.
For example: “Sales Proposal – ACME Corp – Discounted Fees For Discussion”.
This heading clearly signals to the reader that the email is regarding a sales proposal for a company called ACME Corp and relates to the discounted fees that need to be discussed.
Compared this to something like: “Re: ACME Corp conversation” and what do you think will get the better (and quicker response).
Finish with a call to action
An effective email should have a call of action.
Don’t leave it open ended if you need a prompt response. Writing something like “please reply by 2 p.m. tomorrow” is an effective way to make sure you get the answer you need in a timely manner.
Also be clear on what you actually need the recipient to do. Are you asking them to provide additional information? Give their opinion? Or okay a proposal you are suggesting?
Ask for what you need and let them know if they have questions they can call you as well. This will help you get answers sooner, rather than later.
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Also published on Medium.