In 2015, the average American sends and receives over (a combined) 122 business emails per day. For online entrepreneurs like myself, email is frequently the best way for us to make sales, explain tasks or quickly gather information from our team.
Recent research has estimated that emailing (composing and reading) takes up over 28% of the average employee's day!
Why Quality Emailing Matters
- Save time by minimizing the amount of back and forth between sender and recipient.
- Ensures tasks are done appropriately the first time.
- Save money (see points above).
- Shows others that the sender respects their time and their own.
Before you worry about how to compose your email, be sure that emailing is the best way to relay your message appropriately. Some communication requires face to face meeting (can be Skype) to convey the point
You wouldn't want to give an employee a performance review over an email, for example. They need to hear your voice and see your expressions so they don't interpret things incorrectly.
The Steps to Writing Strong Business Emails
1. Create a Relevant Subject Line
Your subject should be clear and to the point. If you give your emails solid subject lines, they'll be much easier to find if you need to reference them in the future.
I want to slap my past self every time I am searching for an old email and can't find it because my subject lines were vague and irrelevant.
Clearly explain to your recipient who you are and why you are contacting them.
If I get an email with little information regarding who exactly I am speaking with, I am confused and may not even open it.
Example: If you have daily tasks that you send out to your team, don't simply put, “September 15th Tasks.” Put something like, “Task Request (9.21.15): Update Chicago Travel Expenses.” This subject will allow your recipient to understand what you want and will make it simple for you to reference this email in the future.
2. Clarity is Your Top Priority
Each email should pertain to only one subject and one or two actions that need completed. Avoid sending multiple requests in the same message as they become lost and confusing.
Don't skimp out on the salutation though.
If you have something to say, you can and should always be friendly and add “Hello” or a quick greeting of some sort. Be brief, but stay friendly.
Don't assume that everyone you're speaking to understands where you are coming from. Often times, minor unknown details can derail an entire message. Don't waste time with wordiness, but be clear and make sure that the recipient is up to speed before assuming anything.
3. Be Kind and Don't Say Anything You Will Regret
It is, unfortunately, very easy to tell someone off via email.
The security of the computer screen and the amount of time available to compose a solid burn results in a lot of passive aggressive (or full blow combative) emails.
Fight this urge.
Ask yourself before sending anything: “does this better serve my business?” Telling someone off, as deserving as they may be, does nothing for your business.
Always reconsider your words before clicking send.
4. Have a Professional Signature and Email Address
I use a company called wisestamp
for my signature. Adding a picture of yourself, your title and links to your social media accounts can give you a professional appearance that will generate more professional interactions.
Just like having a professional signature, an official @yourcompany.com email shows recipients that you are a professional and serious. You can use Google Apps for Business to create an email address @yourdomainname.com
5. Use URLs Instead of Attachments
When I send files, I typically send them as Google Drive URLs instead of direct attachments. Direct attachments are bulky and may not open easily for everyone else depending on their operating system.
6. Aim for 150 Words or 5 Sentences
Time is money, never forget that.
You can use five.sentenc.es
to check this or a tool like Hemingwayapp.com
to simplify and abbreviate your writing. Don't spend too much time on this part, just be mindful of the length of your emails and use this as a rule of thumb.)
Don't Ask Open Ended Questions Unless You Have To. Don't end an email with anything that makes the recipient need to reply unless it pertains clearly to your request.
We all make typos from time to time, but don't become an email slob. Business email is not the same as Facebook or Twitter messaging when you're considered a jerk if you point out spelling and grammar errors. This doesn't take more than a minute so don't forget it.
8. Follow Up Tactfully
Don't harass your recipients. It is unreasonable to expect a response outside of the recipients typical working hours.
9. Be Prompt in Responding
With the exception of weekends, vacations and holidays, don't let any email go more than 24 hours without a response.
When you decide that all emails will be responded within 24 hours, you can choose to ignore emails that are received outside of your working hours.
Don't feel guilty about this. A 24 hour response time is standard and reasonable. Anyone who is so high maintenance that they require more prompt responses will be a hindrance to you and your business. Cut ties with them as soon as possible.*Unless they are your boss, in which case, suck it up until you find another job.
I recommend a tool like followup.cc
to set reminders to follow up with emails you have received, but can't respond to right away. It has a lot of other useful features as well that will help you maintain a better email process.
Sources Radicati.com, news.yahoo.com, entrepreneur.com, coffeecup.com. support.google.com, convinceandconvert.com, email monday.com, mashable.com, five.senc.es, inc.com, insidehighered.com, wordtalk.com, mindtools.com.