Remember learning that “business” letters were to have a different format for the top area’s TO and FROM names and addresses? A personal letter had a different look and you needed to know the appropriate carriage returns and tabs. (What the heck is a carriage return? Can’t tell you…some secrets are only for older, wizened souls.)
Now, it’s not uncommon for email to be your primary method of communicating with your customers, prospects, and other businesses. Unfortunately, there are many people who are unaware of how to effectively write an email to have the effects they desire.
First, understand that it does matter.
Miscommunication almost always causes problems for both the sender and receiver, and yet it is the easiest thing in the world to accomplish.
Imagine having the goal to toss a horseshoe and have it wrap around a particular stake—a ringer! How it lands means EVERYTHING to you. It’s the same for an email you send out! Here are some tips:
When communicating through email, always be specific with what you’re talking about. For example, if you write: “Just letting you know that I did follow up with that customer and she is very happy now,” you seem to be assuming that I haven’t had 691 issues with customers to deal with in the last three days. Please be kind enough to note the particular customer’s name and something that will clearly bring to my mind what you are referring to. The rule is to OVER-communicate. Fill in more information than is the minimum and you’ll save us both so much time and trouble. In a conversation (not email), I can easily ask for clarification as you’re speaking. With emails, I want it all up front in one go.
Think before you write your subject line
As you may receive countless emails every day, so does everyone else. Make your email stand out and communicate the purpose at a glance. If it is truly urgent for me to see, include “urgent” in the subject. A short subject is usually good, but just putting “hi” is cringe-worthy. Why? Because even though I am busy, I don’t want to miss something important. I’d appreciate a hint up front (in the subject line).
Be professional in all business transactions
Start with a greeting and the person’s name. State the purpose of the email right away, then fill in the other information. Write in complete sentences. Include all your appropriate contact information in the details or signature part at the end of the email.
Find ways to be show courtesy and appreciation
Being polite in emails costs nothing but a few extra seconds of typing, but makes a world of difference. Using “please” and “thank you” are magic door-openers to opportunities and relationships.
Edit and proofread
REVIEW and make sure you spelled their company name correctly, didn’t leave out an important detail, gave them the correct time and date if that is part of your purpose. People are busy—could you get to your point more concisely? Use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It matters and it REALLY matters to some people. Every email is a written and clear reflection of how you operate. If you have any doubts as you re-read your email, before you send it have someone else review it for clarity and correctness.
What’s the number one “cringe-worthy” email? The one with the subject line: “OOPS! Sorry the last email had the wrong link” or some other oops! that could have been avoided if only the sender was more thorough in the review step.
You only get one toss and then (hopefully) you’ll find out how it lands. Intentionally following these tips will help your aim every time.