Writing Better Email
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1. Shorten it.
2. Write clearly (to make it easier to understand).
3. Begin with the most important point and continue in descending order of importance (to maximize the chance what you hope to communicate isn’t missed).
Attention spans are short and getting shorter. (Do you like reading long emails from people?)
Your email communication should provide value and/ or move the process along. It’s not an art form where people will tolerate a slow opening act or introduction.
How long has it been since you and your team reviewed your standard email communications (e.g., your approach, follow-up, urgency-creating and inbound inquiry responses, etc.)?
To not review your team’s standard email communications on at least a quarterly basis is to potentially miss out on some great ideas you can implement system wide (or miss some system-wide communications that should be terminated immediately).
Email is not a substitute for contact. If you don’t make live contact on a regular basis, you can be sure your interpersonal skills will deteriorate and your sales value will decrease.
You’ve been advised. You are now responsible.
5 quick email checks
1. What action step do I want my prospect/ customer to take after reading this email?
2. Is it likely the email will achieve its objective? (If not, rework it.)
3. What in the email could be perceived other than as I intended, given what I know about the prospect’s/ customer’s personality/ disposition? (If anything, remove or rework.)
4. What words or points included in the email are unnecessary to achieving my communication objective? (If anything, remove.)
5. Is the subject line descriptive, straightforward, and will it encourage the reader to open the email before others in his/ her inbox? (If not, rework.)
Other things to remember…
* When you’re sitting across from someone, your voice intonation and body language become a part of the message, assisting you in the communication process. This isn’t the case with email.
In email (or any written format), communicating your intended message correctly relies heavily on your word choice, sentence structure and above all, the reader’s interpretation (perception is reality – period).
Consider this sentence… Please let me know what you’d like to do.
How did you read that? In your mind, where was the inflection? What word or words carried a different pitch that gave the sentence its tone or mood? Depending on the reader, the sentence could carry several different meanings. That’s the reason for email check number 3, above.
* No need to be overly humble. Too many thanks yous and over the top sign offs (e.g., very gratefully yours, your humble servant, etc.) are examples of being overly humble.
* Revise the phrase “Please do not hesitate to call.” or “Please feel free to call.” to something like “Please call or email if you need anything at all.” You’re not that important. You don’t need to grant a prospect or customer permission to call you.
You might also consider closing with something other than “Have a nice weekend.” or other stock phrases that carry little value. “Thanks.” might work just as nicely (see number 4, above). They’ll have a nice weekend on their own (or if you help them get more, save more, look good, feel good, or be loved – real return on investment).
* Asking someone in an email to provide you with something or do something for you can come across as abrasive if not worded correctly. A nice way to soften a request is to open with “When you have a moment, please…”
* An email can be a permanent record. You should only put in an email what you’re okay with the entire world seeing.
Consider making your “send and receive” buttons manual. This will help you eliminate distractions during your money hours (incoming mail only when you want it) and add a layer of protection to sending an “I wish I didn’t send that” email (it requires pushing one more button).
* To make reading your emails easier on the recipient, bullet items when appropriate and create more paragraphs. Consider making the width of your paragraphs narrower by hitting the return (enter) key after every seven or eight words.
If you’re using colored backgrounds in your emails and/ or difficult-to-read fonts, stop.
* Run a spell check and minimize your use of exclamation points, smiley faces, and emoticons. NO ALL CAPS.
* Send attachments only when necessary. Minimize extra steps for your recipient and type or paste what’s needed into the body of the email (follow the golden rule).
* Reply to all in your emails only when everyone needs to see your reply.
* Never tag your email as urgent unless it absolutely is (to them, not you).
* Conclude all email correspondence with your phone number and email address (every time), minimizing the need for someone to search for them in previous emails.
Now go sell something.~>