Write professional emails
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Write Professional Emails that People Read

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An average office person sends and receives 300 emails each day. But only less than 15% of these are opened. Most of these land in the bin even before they’re opened, while others get little to no attention at all. So, what’s the recipe for writing a professional email that works and is read by the recipients?  

The average attention span is even shorter than a goldfish, falling from 12 seconds to only eight seconds today. Keeping someone’s attention in the ever teeming and the always-connected world is more challenging than you might anticipate. We’re all a world of instantaneous reactions and shifting attention from one evaporating story to another.  

If you’re like many of us, checking email is a chore and can even sometimes be a source of social and productivity-related anxiety. So how can you ensure your email wins the battle of producing something your audience actually wants to read?  

Write Professional Emails that people actually read 

Unless you’re living off the grid for decades, you might already know that email is one of the most used communication channels. Almost every organisation relies heavily on email and is a preferred internal communication medium, even though several other options are available, i.e., social media, instant messaging, or other formats.  

Email is rated as the most crucial channel in use by two-third of respondents of a study. Indicating the overall effectiveness of email is improving.  

Creating Email Content That People Can Connect With  

Email is the communication tool that many of us have chosen. Email is an excellent professional communication channel because you don’t need to be simultaneously available. It permits you to keep the conversation going even if the other person is not available and get a reply when they are free.  

Before you write: 

Identify the Right Person/Audience 

Imagine shooting arrows in the dark, hoping to hit your mark. With a bit of luck, you might hit it one in a hundred or thousands of times, which means doing it just waste your arrows.  

Knowing and targeting the right audience helps you create more targeted content and improve the opening and conversion rate. So allows you to make better use of your resources and offer a more personalised experience. 

Identify your audience persona to visualise what your intended recipient might be going through, what they want, and adapt your content to those needs.  

Understanding your Audience’s Requirements 

Building a successful business requires understanding their needs, preferences, interests, emotions, and pain points. But understanding the customer needs are not easy and require you to conduct customer research to develop an imaginary character as your audience.  

Another strategy for understanding customer needs is keyword research. This strategy can help companies find what their users are looking for. Dig into what motivates your customers? And to understand that, you must have a clear idea about their pain points, expectations, anxieties, and priorities.  

Gather all the data and information 

Gather all the information surrounding your ideas and do additional research. You can do primary and secondary research to gather relevant information. Primary research involves first-hand knowledge through interviews, observations, or reading source material like customer letters. 

Secondary research depends on getting information by analysing the primary research material. Sources for secondary research include product evaluation, newspaper reports, and marketing material.  

Define the purpose of the email 

Clear and concise emails always have a clear purpose. When writing an email, ask yourself, “Why am I sending the email?” and “What do I need from the recipient?” 

Don’t have a clear answer, then you certainly shouldn’t be sending the email. Writing emails without a clear purpose will waste both your and the recipient’s time. That means you’re struggling to express yourself clearly and concisely and might lose traction in the long run. 

Ask yourself, “Is this email necessary?” only send emails when they’re essential as it shows respect for others time and attention.  

Identify the points you want to put across 

Emails are not precisely the same as business meetings. Business meetings are more productive given that the highest number of items on the agenda are executed. 

When it comes to emails, the less you include, the better.  

Therefore, it’s recommended to practice the “one subject” rule. Build each of your emails you send around a single subject. If you want to communicate regarding another issue, write another email. 

Once Completed 

Follow a standard structure 

You’ll be thinking about what is the key to keeping your emails short? Use a standard structure. That can be a template that you follow for every email you write. 

Along with keeping the emails short and concise, a standard will help you write fast. While over time, you’ll develop a structure that works for you and keeps your audience engaged.  

Here is a typical structure to get you started: 

  1. Greeting 
  1. A courteous compliment or annotation 
  1. The reason for your email 
  1. A call to action 
  1. A closing message 
  1. Signature 

Let’s dig down at each of these in-depth. 

Greeting: The first line of the email should look something like this. ”Hello, [First Name]” is a typical greeting. 

Accomplished or Courteous Annotation: A compliment is a great way to start when you first email someone. A nicely written compliment can serve as an introduction. Such as, 

“Enjoy your presentation on [topic] on [date].” 

“I found your presentation on [topic] very helpful.” 

“It was great meeting you at [event].” 

Use a courtesy if you are writing to someone you already know. For example, you can thank them for something they helped you with or for guidance they sent you in a previous email. 

Reason for the email: In this section, you can say something like, “I am writing this email to ask you …” or “I wonder if you could help me with …” Explain the reason you’re writing the email for.  

Call to action: Once you’ve clarified your reason for writing the email, don’t assume that the recipient will know what to do. Provide specific instructions. For instance: 

“Could you send me those files, please?” 

“Could you write the PR in the next two weeks?” 

“Please write to Sam about this and let me know when it’s done.” 

When you structure your request as a question, you are encouraging the recipient to respond promptly. Otherwise, you can use the line “let me know when this is done” or “let me know if that’s okay for you.” 

Closing message: Before signing your email, be sure to include a closing line. This serves the dual purpose of reiterating your call to action and making the recipient feel good. 

Examples of good closing lines include: 

“Thanks for all your help with this.” 

“That sounds good?” 

“I look forward to hearing from you.” 

“Reach out if you have any questions.” 

Signature: Finish with farewell such as “Best wishes,” “Best regards,” “All the best,” or “Thank you.” And a signature showing your details.  

Salutations, Introduction, Body, Conclusion/Call-to-Action and Sign-off 

When writing an email, the two essential aspects are tone and content. Include an appropriate salutation at the start of your email and set the tone for the rest of the subject matter. While leaving your reader with a fitting closing can leave your reader with a positive impression.  

By putting an appropriate start and end in your professional email can help you communicate necessary information in a way that is clearly received by the audience. But how to write a professional email salutation? Follow the steps below.  

  1. Identify the relationship with the recipient 
  1. Explore the recipient’s perspective or context 
  1. Ascertain a subject matter or goal for the email 

Introduce yourself in a professional way to engage the reader and clearly state why you’re writing the email. Write a subject line encouraging the recipient to open the message. And the best way to introduce yourself is to address your message to a person, use your connections and keep it short.  

Write Concisely & Avoid Unnecessary Information 

In every email that you write, you should use enough sentences to say what it requires and no more. There’s no absolute rule on how much to include in your email, but experts suggest limiting yourself to around five sentences. Less than that will seem more abrupt and rude while going above that wastes receiver’s time.  

However, there can be times when it isn’t possible to keep an email within the limit. But in most cases, a clear and concise email is enough. Embrace the discipline, and you’ll find yourself writing more engaging emails faster.  

Personalise the Email; Avoid Templated Responses 

Practice empathy – you can see the world from others eyes. Put yourself in their shoes to understand their thoughts and feelings. Write an email by keeping an eye on the reader’s perspective. With everything you write, ask yourself: 

If I were the one reading it, how would I interpret it?  

How would I feel if I was the one receiving it? 

Such questions are a slight adjustment to the way you think and write. But it will significantly transform the way your recipients respond to you. 

Everyone’s busy. They don’t have the time to guess what you want and would love to read and respond to your email quickly.  

Appreciate a compliment; personalise the email by including a personal response. Your words will not be wasted. If someone has helped you in any way, remember to say thank you. You should do this even when it is their job to help you. 

Keep Introductions Brief 

When writing to someone for the first time, introduce yourself properly. You can do that in a sentence such as, “It was great meeting you at [event X].” 

You can keep introductions short by writing to them as if you were speaking to the person face-to-face. Obviously, you wouldn’t go into a lengthy monologue when meeting someone in person. So, simply don’t do it in an email as well. 

Not sure if an introduction is required? Maybe you have contacted the recipient before, but you are not sure if they will remember you. Leave your contact details in the email signature. This is ideal because: 

The email body should be as short as possible. 

A signature is a precise way of sharing the sender’s information. By putting this information in your email signature, you keep the body of your emails short. 

Your signature should include: 

Your name. 

Office. 

A link to your website. 

Add Extra information as Per Audience’s Requirement 

Email can be easily misunderstood. A study found more than 64% of people have sent or received an email that caused unintended confusion or annoyance.  

Because of the volume of emails everyone sends and receives, there’s more chance of misinterpretation. Therefore, it is essential to write clear and concise emails keeping your audience in perspective.  

Add information that is short and to the point to reduce the time spent on email and make you more productive. Writing a clear email is a pure skill and must be worked on. In the process, you’re going to save your as well as your recipient’s time. It will eventually be adding less clutter to the recipient’s inbox, making it easy and less time consuming to respond to you.  

In the long run, you’ll be known as a person who knows what you want and how to get people to actually read email and respond. 

Use Words, Sentences and Short Paragraphs 

Back in 1946, George Orwell advised writers to: 

George Orwell, back in 1946, said

“Never use a long word if you can with a short one.” 

Today the tip is even more relevant for email writing. Short and precise words show respect for your reader. That shows you’ve done the hard work to make your message easy to understand.  

Avoid large paragraphs or blocks of text to make your email clear and simple. Similarly, George Orwell highlighted the importance of keeping your sentences as short as possible.  

“If a word can be trimmed, always trim it.” 

Follow your standard structure and trim each sentence to be as short as possible.  

Use Active Voice 

Once again, quoting George Orwell:  

“Never use the liability if you can use the asset.” 

There are two kinds of voices, active and passive. 

You can write in two voices, active and passive.  

You can write in two voices, active and passive. Active voice is always easier to understand and encourages action and responsibility. Because in active voice writing, the focus is on the person acting. While in the passive voice, the object is the focus on which the action is being exerted. Where things can seem to happen by themselves, you want people to feel they’re the ones taking action into their hands in an email.  

Keep the professionalism alive in your emails 

Show your personality through the email and let it subtly shine through your writing style. Avoid using emoticons, colourful fonts, background or chat abbreviations such as LOL. These might have been an essential part of your emails in your teenage years. In professional settings, they’re pretty rare.  

The only appropriate time to use fonts, emoticons or chat abbreviations is when you are mirroring the email language of the person you are writing to. 

Write as you speak 

A letter is a more formal way of communication; email is somewhat less formal. Writing as you speak gives you the image of being an approachable and friendly person. That also helps you keep your emails short. After all, few of us speak in lengthy paragraphs. 

Also, make sure your emails reflect who you are in the real world. If you wouldn’t say something to a person face-to-face, don’t say it in an email. Your manners go a long way. A simple ”Please” and “Thank you” can make a lot of difference. 

Wrapping It up 

An engaging and enticing email will always get you positive attention and response. When writing an email, think of what kind of emails you personally like to read and respond to. Double-check each and everything you include in your email and make them more precise and more concise. Once you get the gist of crafting emails, you’ll see the number of reads and replies grow significantly.  

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