Tips for writing e-mails

January 29, 2009

First you should make sure that e-mail is the right communication tool for the job. Although e-mail can sometimes feel like the ultimate replacement for all other forms of communication, it’s actually more limited than you might initially think. First of all, e-mail is not synchronous like telephone calls or in-person conversations; in other words, sending a message does not guarantee an immediate response. Also, it can sometimes take more time to write an e-mail than it would to speak to someone directly.

According to Emily Foshee, a freelance copywriter, the subject line of an email is the last thing people think about, but it should be the first. When your e-mail pops up in your recipient’s in box, that person has just a few seconds to decide whether or not to read your message.  Their decision is based entirely on the effectiveness of your subject line.  A few hastily chosen words in the subject line will result in sales unnecessarily lost, potential customers missed and brand recognition wasted.

Dan Santow suggests writing e-mails backwards by writing the body of the e-mail first, fill in the subject line second and add the recipients third. I like his idea because it reduces the risk of sending unfinished or incomplete e-mails.  The subject lines are better because they are more focused on what was actually written.  Also the e-mails are better targeted to the right people because after writing the message you may realize that not everyone you thought needed to receive the e-mail or you may realize that other people need to receive it as well.

Be professional with your writing do not use short hand, text message style, or jargon when writing your e-mails. Always check your work for spelling or grammatical errors before sending it.

All in all e-mails are direct reflections of you and your organization so take the time to make sure it is a positive reflection.


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