مدت زمان تقریبی مطالعه: ۲۵ دقیقه
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We rely heavily on email to communicate with colleagues, clients, vendors, etc. Some emails are far too long, stringing paragraph after paragraph together, while others are too brusque, while some are way too formal, or entirely too informal, and still, others might even put the company in legal jeopardy.
Since we rely so heavily on email, every email we send should be well-written, and serve the intended purpose to disseminate information, while also being collegial. Effective emails, not only share information in a clear and concise manner, they save time and effort for both the reader and the recipient, which in the long run, impacts the bottom line.
Follow these simple rules to make a positive impression and get an appropriate response.
A. Consider the message and the recipient
An email should start in your mind, not with your fingers on the keyboard. In order to write an email effectively, first, consider why are you writing. What kind of response do you want? What message do you wish to impart? If you are requesting information, applying for a job, or inquiring about openings, be sure your request for action by the recipient is clear.
Next, consider the point of view of the recipient. What information do they need to take action or understand your message? Give necessary (but not excessive) background information. Also, keep in mind appropriate etiquette for this particular recipient. Emoticons and abbreviations, like OMG or LOL, are not appropriate for job applications and most business emails.
For example, which email do you think would be more likely to meet its goal?
1. An email with the goal of getting the reader to click through to a landing page (one goal).
2. An email with the goal of getting the reader to click through to a landing page, share information on social media, and watch a YouTube video (three goals).
Like a headline in a newspaper, it should grab the recipient’s attention and specify what the message is about – use a few well-chosen words. If the email is one of a series e.g. a weekly newsletter, include the date in the subject line. Never leave it blank. When you write an email, do not write something vague in the subject line like "hi" or "work-at-home jobs" or leave it blank. Emails with this kind of subject line have a good chance of ending up in the recipient's spam box or simply ignored. If you are applying for a job, put the name of the position in the subject line. If the email is to a colleague, make your subject line a short phrase that sums up the purpose of the message.
Another benefit of writing a descriptive subject line is that it will be easier for you to find in your inbox if you need to search it out later. Something with an email line like "Question" will not be helpful, though. It drives me crazy when I get an email from someone and the subject line is a tease or does not relate to the content of the email. Again, this will add time to my day, when I’m trying to search through my emails for specific content, but the subject line doesn’t match that content.
Here's an example of a bad email subject line:
"Important Email. Get $100!!!"
This is a bad subject line. It's vague. The words "important email" don't tell the reader anything about the email. Also, it's misleading. If the reader opened the email, they'd see that they won't get $100 unless they win a contest. Finally, the three exclamation points at the end of the subject line make this subject line look spammy.
Here's a better email subject line for the same email:
"Discover your new XYZ features (register to win a $100 prize)"
Rather than the vague phrase, "important email," the second subject line tells the reader that this email lists new features for XYZ—a product they own. And the phrase in parenthesis makes it clear that the $100 is a prize.
C. Open with an appropriate greeting
When writing an email, avoid the temptation to dive directly into your request on the very first line. Instead, just like you would with a letter, open with an appropriate salutation. This social nicety can make a professional impression while helping you to connect with the recipient. Be sure to use the appropriate level of formality.
For a formal greeting, it's generally best to use Mr., Mrs., Ms., or Miss, followed by the person's last name. You could also use both their first name and surname.
For a less formal greeting, you could just use the person's first name followed by a comma (Leanne,) or add Dear or even Hi in front of the name.
Even if your reader opens your email, the first few lines could be such a turn-off that they stop reading right there. Pay extra attention to the salutation (email greeting) and the opening sentence to make sure your email is effective.
When it comes to email greetings, use the proper degree of formality. To know how formal to be you must know your audience. Will your audience be offended by an informal greeting, or will being informal make your business seem more approachable? You can't know the answer unless you've done your homework about your readers.
Regardless of whether your email takes a formal or informal tone, some openings are simply too unprofessional for a business email. Look at this email opening:
EX: Yo XYZ User! Your XYZ software has been upgraded.
Even if your email is written in a casual tone, "Yo" is practically never a good email salutation. Contrast the opening above with the following, more effective (and professional) email opening:
EX: Hello Laura, We're glad you've chosen XYZ software. As mentioned in your maintenance agreement, XYZ has been automatically upgraded to version 4.2.
E. Write a separate email for each subject.
If you need to email someone about several different issues, write a separate email for each subject. This allows the recipient to reply to each one individually in a timely manner. For instance, one subject might be dealt with quickly while another could involve some research. If you have several related points, put them all in the same email but present each point in a numbered or bulleted paragraph.
F. Highlight call to action
If the recipient is expected to do something after receiving the email, highlight the call to action.
G. Be collegial
Always open your email with a pleasantry. I often craft my email, then go back and add in the “I hope you had a great vacation” or “Have a great weekend – enjoy the Fall weather.”
H. Keep it short and concise
No one has the time to read a 10-paragraph email, so don’t sent it. If you have 10-paragraphs, or even four-paragraphs, then you’re likely including unrelated content. Your email should be clear and concise. Sentences should be short and to the point. The purpose of the message should be outlined in the first paragraph and the body should contain all of the relevant information.
- Eliminate Wordiness - Write with active verbs. "Jack sent me the forms" uses an active verb. "The forms were sent to me by Jack" is passive. The passive form only uses a few more words, but it adds up. More than that, it requires readers to rearrange the ideas in their heads.
- Stick to the Point - Resist the temptation to add extraneous information or ideas. Save these for another email.
- Use Bullet Points - These allow your reader to use visual clues to take in what's important. But if in doubt about how bullets will display, use asterisks or hyphens to create bullets. Bullet points make it much easier for the recipient to read the email quickly and effectively. It also helps the reader identify the main points of the email.
I. Watch your tone
The tone of an email is difficult to assess, but more often than not, the reader will assign a tone, even when one was not intended, so be careful not to craft the email with tone by watching the use of exclamation marks, using inflammatory words, etc.
J. Don’t muddle content
Stick to one content area per email. If you are sending a follow-up email to a colleague after a meeting, then it is unnecessary to add in something about a different client or information about the company picnic, etc. When you muddle content, it makes it much harder for the recipient to find the email in a search because the content they are looking for won’t match the subject line.
K. Avoid too many Exclamation marks and no emojis
I find I use too many exclamation marks in my emails, usually to sound excited, but one could also read the exclamation marks as being angry, frustrated, etc. And NEVER use emojis in a work email, to anyone other than a close friend.
L. Avoid quotes that could be offensive to others
More and more you see quotes at the bottom of emails. Some are benign inspirational quotes, such as “Be the best you can be every day,” these are fine; however, avoid quotes with religious meaning, quotes that could be viewed as excluding others, etc. could offend a co-worker, a client, or a vendor, which could result in the loss of productivity and business.
If you need to write the email, do so in a word document, where it is impossible to hit the send button by accident.
As with any type of content, images in an email draw a reader in and capture their attention. Don't overdo images in your professional email. One large or two small images are enough for most business emails.
Some drawbacks to using images include:
- Size. A large image could make your email load more slowly.
- Filters. Some email filters and email systems block images.
- Wrong usage. Adding an unprofessional image makes your email less effective instead of more effective.
Make sure any images you use are professional. And of course, you need the intellectual rights to use whatever image you use.
Where can you find effective images to add to your emails? One quality source of royalty-free professional images is Envato Elements. For a small monthly fee, choose between over 200,000 professionally curated photos. And you'll have access to lots of other professional graphic assets as well.
O. Include a call to action
Be sure to include a ‘call to action’ – a phone call or a follow-up appointment perhaps, cause your reader won't know what to do next unless you tell them. To ensure a prompt reply, incorporate your contact information – name, title, company, phone/fax numbers or extensions, even your business address if necessary. Even internal messages must have contact information.
Include a clear call to action to get the results you want.
Here's what our call to action looks like:
EX: Discover more about how to use XYZ software (and register to win $100) by subscribing to the XYZ weekly newsletter(link).
Notice how the call to action includes an underlined link. In a live email, that would be a clickable link that the reader could click on right away.
If your reader has read all the way through your email, it's important that you leave them with a good impression. Adding an effective closing to your email is the best way to make sure your reader leaves with a good feeling about your company.
Make your email closing sincere and appropriate. Just as you took your audience into consideration when you wrote the rest of the email, think about your audience when you write your email closing.
An effective email closing includes a closing phrase and identifies the sender. Just as there are formal and informal email salutations, there are also formal and informal email closings. The type of closing you choose depends on the target audience for your email.
To close the example email we've been working on, we'll use this simple email closing:
EX: Thanks again for choosing XYZ software to meet your software needs.Best Wishes,Jane JonesCEO and Founder, AnyTown Consulting555-555-9090Jane@AnyTown Consulting
For an extra degree of professionalism, add a signature template to your email. A professional signature template includes your brand and your contact information. This design element makes your email stand out, which makes your email more effective.
A little-known fact is that the P.S. (postscript) is one of the most-read parts of an email. If you're not familiar with the term, P.S. refers to a sentence, phrase, or short paragraph added after the signature block. The idea is that the postscript is a last-minute addition to the email.
In emails, the P.S. may include an extra call to action or even a special offer. Adding a postscript to your email can make it more effective.
Here's an example postscript for the email example we've been working on:
EX: P.S. I nearly forgot to tell you. If you sign up(link) for our newsletter by the end of this month, that's November 30th, we'll add a free month to your support plan.
If your reader was debating about signing up for the newsletter, the added incentive in the P.S. may be enough to make up their mind.
S. Always proofread your emails
Sending out an email with typos, misspelled words, etc., makes you look bad. Take the extra minute to proofread the email. Emails, even internal ones, should not be too informal – after all, they are written forms of communication. Use your spell-check and avoid slang.
T. Legal ramifications
Remember, your email, your colleague’s email, even the vendor’s email is subject to a warrant should illegal activity occur or a lawsuit be filed. Furthermore, emails sent to and from your work email address, are the property of your employer. Thus, NEVER put anything in an email that could compromise you or the company from a legal perspective (or from a professional perspective). This includes, but is not limited to, defamatory comments, harassment, admitting to wrong-doing, accusing someone of a crime or wrong-doing, promising a quid pro quo, and promising something that can’t be delivered (especially when it comes to products).
U. Send it at the right time
When you send your email is important. The best time to send an email varies, depending on your target audience for the email.
For example, you might not want to send a business person an email at 5:00 p.m. Friday afternoon. They may have left the office and by the time they get in on Monday morning, your email will be just one of many that came in over the weekend—making your recipient less likely to read it.
Most studies agree that Tuesday is the best day of the week to send an email to a business person. Of course, the best day to reach your target audience may be different. So, learn all you can about your email recipients.
V. Don't forget to follow up
For your email to be effective, it's important to follow up. Your follow up can take two forms:
1. A shorter reminder email to those who didn't respond to the first email
2. Answers to any questions or other responses you receive because of the first email
Follow-up can often be the difference between getting a sale and not getting a sale.
To answer any responses you receive, your own email inbox must be organized and clutter-free or you may overlook the response. In the example we've been using, imagine that an email recipient responds asking whether the XYZ newsletter subscription costs money. But, you don't see their response due to email inbox clutter. There's an opportunity lost.
Effective email writing isn't difficult once you know how to reach your audience. Use the professional email communication tips in this tutorial to write more effective emails.
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