Looking for ways to make your business emails better? No matter whether you work in a dance studio or a corporate office, you probably send and receive a lot of emails. Did you know that on average, an office worker spends 28% of their work time reading and writing emails?*
It’s not just desk time. Most of us are carrying around our emails in our pockets on mobile devices. Typing with our thumbs on these little keypads means every word counts.
Learning how to improve your emails for business will optimize time spent AND help the bottom line. Try these tips for better business emails.
Write a Relevant Subject Line
When you start a new email, pause before writing in the “Subject” field. Think of a few words that will describe what your email’s topic. You want to motivate the readers to open it. Keep it short — ideally under 5 words. Most email programs will cut it off anyway. There is also thing as “too short.” Here are some examples.
Bad: “Phil needs photos of the company picnic from last July for using in the annual report that Michelle is working on and you can call me.” Better: “Urgent – company picnic photos needed soon”
Bad: “Meeting”. Better: “Required Staff Meeting Thursday Oct 15”
Bad: “P.O.”. Better: “Need details on P.O.”
Bad: “Important!” Better: “Please call by 5 today”
Make Your Main Point Up Front
The first sentence of your email needs to contain your main point. The rest of the email should back up your main point and provide details. Be specific. Starting with “This is crucial to the company” or “It needs to be completed by next week” is a weak kick-off.
Keep it Short
If your email exceeds 2 or 3 paragraphs, it’s probably too long. Your readers might set it aside for “later,” and “later” never comes. See if you can shorten it by deleting less-important or redundant information. You might be better off setting up a meeting (phone, skype or in-person). Or make an optional attachment. Thumb-typers on smartphones learn this PDQ (Pretty Darned Quickly)!
Avoid — OMG — Textspeak
TXTRS R ROFLOL sending personal communications on their phones. Translation: Texters are rolling on the floor laughing. In business, though, abbreviations and acronyms that were invented for chat rooms and texting can leave your readers wondering “WUWT (what’s up with that?).” If speed is the problem, take lessons to improve your typing skills on a keyboard, or practice with your thumbs on a mobile device. But textspeak doesn’t belong in business emails.
Use “please” and “thank you.” DON’T USE ALL CAPS BECAUSE THAT IS SHOUTING. Prove that the pen is mightier than the sword by crafting a polite, factual, non-accusatory email. All lower case comes across as meek.
Create a simple signature block that appears in every email. Include your name, company name, business address, and phone number. It’s not terribly professional to include cute artwork and poignant quotes.
“ARG!” is the sound of someone hitting “send” just before noticing a mistake. If your device is using auto-correct, check every few words as you go along. You could accidentally say something really embarrassing. Then read the whole thing after you are done, and make any needed edits and corrections.
*McKinsey Global Institute, reported by Jordan Weissmann in The Atlantic (July 28, 2012)