Composing and sending emails needs to be done with thought – like any means of communication, it shapes your personal and corporate brand.
The way you manage and construct emails has a real impact on your professional reputation – and the way you write them is crucial to landing your message in the right way.
Here are some key points that will help to make your emails more effective and stand out from the crowd:
First, ask yourself: what is the purpose of this email? Is it to schedule something, to share information and resources, or to ask a question? Once you know what the goal is, you can tailor the tone accordingly.
Subject line is everything. The subject line is the first thing people will see when they open your email, so make it count! Be specific and clear with what you want to say. You could be asking a question, or sharing an update on something, or even just saying “Hey!” It’s all okay as long as you get right down to business in the first sentence. And remember: don’t use ALL CAPS! That’s just rude.
Address the reader by name as soon as possible. It’s important to make sure you’re talking directly to the person who needs to read your email – and not just any other person who might glance at it.
Be concise. Don’t use too much filler or fluff; try to get to the point quickly without sacrificing quality. If you can say what you mean in one sentence, do it! It’ll cut down on the time it takes for your recipient to read and digest your message, which means they’ll be more likely to take action on what you’re saying.
Use strong verbs. “I suggest” is better than “I am happy to suggest.” Why? Because we’re all busy people who don’t have time to waste reading through fluff – the more actionable words we can pack into an email, the better it will be received by our readers.
Keep in touch with your audience’s needs and goals by asking questions about them before writing anything else in an email (e.g., “How does this affect how quickly we can get this done?”). This will help make sure that what you write isn’t just useful but also relevant to the person receiving it – which means they’ll actually want to read it!
Use the second person. This is more personal and friendly, and helps create a warm tone for the email. Marketing writing often employs the second person because it engages readers. It’s also a useful technique to focus on what readers want to know instead of what you want to say. When you write in the second person, your language is more active and direct.
Use a proper tone of voice throughout the body of your message, which means no use of funny symbols or emojis, they’ll distract from your message and take up precious space in their inboxes.
Make sure every paragraph has a topic sentence that summarises the point of the paragraph (if there is one). If there isn’t one, put something in there that says what you’re trying to convey so that it’s clear when someone reads through it later on.
Use bullet points when possible so people can scan quickly and get to the point quickly. If the recipient is expected to do something after receiving the email, highlight the call to action.
Don’t use crazy fonts. Sure, Comic Sans may look cool, but it doesn’t look professional at all. So keep it simple with Times New Roman or Arial if you have to have a font at all (it will help with readability). The exception here is if your company uses a unique font that makes sense for your brand – then go ahead and use it! But otherwise? Just stick to plain old text.
Also remember that knowing when not to send an email can be just as important as knowing when to send one! If something can be communicated over text message or in person – even if it’s just a quick message like “hey can we talk about this later?” – then don’t waste everyone’s time by sending an email about it.
Finally, a little bit extra – use the Gunning Fog Index to help you to check the readability level of your email. The fog index is commonly used to check that text can be read easily by the intended audience. The ideal score for readability with the Fog index is 7 or 8. Anything above 12 is too hard for most people to read.