The following 5 tips are a must read if you want to send emails that leave a good impression, and compel the recipient of your emails to take immediate action.
1. Be bold: Start with the end
Need an answer from your recipient? Want them to take a particular action, like printing an attachment, sending an invite, or calling you as soon as possible? Tell them what you need in the first paragraph of your message.
If you’re feeling bold, then format the “call to action” in a way that stands out from the rest of the message. Be careful in your choice of formatting: Many people have found that red fonts will convey an implicit meaning that you are demanding action, rather than simply encouraging it. That was one lesson I would have preferred to learn the easy way.
2. Try again; do it twice
If you’ve ever tried to cook a fancy recipe for an important dinner party for the first time, you’ll probably have some pretty embarrassing memories to share. We rarely get things right on our first try, which is why we tend to use our loved ones as guinea pigs for our culinary experiments. With that knowledge, we really ought to ask ourselves why do we rarely re-read an email before we hit the Send button…
Next time you sit down to write an email, just go ahead and write it. After you’re done with it, go back to the top and read it again. I guarantee you will find a number of changes you want to make as you read through it again. Feeling confident? Do it a third time – you will surprise yourself with some of the subtle yet powerful improvements you get on that last run.
3. If it is important, choose the right time
In their best-seller ’Fish!’, Lundin, Paul & Christensen tell us that one of the three secrets to a happy work life is to “Be Present” for others. The same applies to written communication. Some time ago I learned from experience that writing mission critical messages to my largest customers at 11:30 PM after a long day at work was an extremely poor choice.
If the message is important, choose the right time to write it. If th message is not important, choose the right time to write it too. Make sure you won’t be forced to rush through writing it. And if it is really important or a letter charged with emotion, you should follow Dan Millmans’ advise about E-mail Protocols:
If you must write an emotionally-charged letter, or just an important
one where clear composition is important, write it then SAVE it in your
“Drafts” file. SLEEP ON IT and take another look the next morning.
4. Carefully craft the subject line
Read any advice from the professionals, and you will be bored to death with messages on the importance of your headline. Email is no different. The subject of your email is your headline; don’t abuse it. Use it wisely, and your message will be far more powerful than you could ever dream.
Some professionals go as far as suggesting that you should spend half the time choosing the title of your article, and the other half writing the actual article. In the case of emails, maybe 50/50 is taking it a bit far. Just make sure you don’t underestimate the importance of a good subject line.
5. Be succinct
Want your message to be clear? Want to grab the attention of your reader? Want to differentiate yourself from the thousand other emails that arrive in others’ email inboxes?
Pack a lot of content in as few words as you can. Use the delete key generously.