Emailing. It has become our default communication used for almost everything. With that in mind, how influential are you in your emails? Do you consider the format or just write free-flow like in a verbal conversation?
While many people think email saves time, if the email is not written properly, you can actually end up wasting time with back and forth, or even worse garner no reply at all.
In order to make writing emails with impact and purpose commonplace, first you should know your audience. For the purpose of this piece, we are focusing on business related emails.
The key to writing a successful email is to keep it short, to the point, and broken up into key areas to draw the reader’s eye and maintain their focus. We have all received long, rambling emails and know how easy it is to miss key points, delete the email without finishing it, or be frustrated with having to pick up the phone for clarity.
An effective email should broken into the following areas:
- Personal Introduction (only if you have not met before)
- Emails purpose and “What’s in it for me” (recipient)
- Bullet points supporting your cause
- Action Items and/or deadlines
- Close with a statement
If you have not met the recipient before, your first paragraph should include a brief 2-3 sentence introduction. It is amazing how many people have a hard time, whether over email, phone, or in person, highlighting themselves and what they do. This is something that is worth spending time on. I call them IGOs (Impact Generating Overviews) and have touched on them in more detail in this post.
If you have met before, the first paragraph should briefly state the purpose of the email and the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) for the recipient. The WIIFM can be anything from a true benefit for them financially and personally, to the benefit of knowing how appreciative you would be for their help. If there is an attachment, explain here if it should be looked at before reading the email or used as a supplement to the bullet points listed in the next area.
The second area of the email should include bullet points or key facts relating to your first paragraph. The most persuasive email bullet points are those that are statement or sentence length, not full paragraphs.
The next area should be action points. State what needs to come out of this email and from whom. Your expectations should be set clearly so that all are on the same page. Use dates and times when necessary to showcase respect for the recipient’s planning and make clear your deliverable needs. If there are hurdles to overcome, these should be highlighted here as well.
And finally, close with a statement of next steps. Don’t ask a question such as, “ If you are interested, then please give me a call.” Instead use a true closer approach, “Email me a time this week that would work for you so that I can come by and discuss in person.”
Include a signature on EVERY email, even if it is a reply. It should have your name, contact info, and any website address tied to you or your business at the very least. If you have a saying or a quote that you feel helps give identity to your brand, then include that as well.
As a parting point, remember that most people are reading emails on their smartphone while multitasking. An email following the above format will not only increase your chances of getting a response, but also the time it takes to get one….and isn’t that one of the most crucial element in todays world?
Katie Marston is President and Executive Director of DYME Branding , a personal brand development company focusing on professional athletes, celebrities, and executives. Follow her on Twitter at @ktmarston