E-mail writing skills are definitely some of the most used in the world today. At the beginning of 2013, a website published some mind-boggling statistics about e-mail showing that there are 2.2 billion users of e-mail across the globe, sending 144 billion pieces of e-mail per day. With so many e-mails flying around cyberspace on a daily basis, it is only natural that people want to learn how to send good e-mails – especially in the corporate and business world. To learn about business e-mails and how to formulate and format them, you can do an online course like this “Writing Effective Business E-mails.” course.
In this article, we explore the basics of how to write good business e-mail. This is something that is essential to know whether you are a professional in the corporate world or operate your own business. Unfortunately, it is also a collection of the most ignored concepts in the world of e-mail!
7 Steps to the Perfect Business E-mail
Business letters are more informal than formal written letters. Traditional written communication rules must still be followed, but they are a little more relaxed when it comes to business E-mails in the real world. People cannot be bothered with too many customs that can cause confusion because of differences in culture, primary language spoken, geographic location or the absence of the face-to-face element. Here are 6 simple steps you can use to create e-mails that are simple, powerful and elegant.
Step #1: Be Clear
A subject line is there to give the recipient a clue to the contents of the e-mail. Therefore, if you are writing about something, the essence of that something is basically your subject line. For example, if you are inviting a business acquaintance to a sales promotion, you might try: “Personal Invitation to XXX Sales Promotion.” If you are asking a prospective client for an appointment on a particular day, then “Meeting request from John Doe of XXX, Inc.” might be good. Never force your e-mail recipients to guess what your e-mail is about. Straight and to the point is the professional way. If you don’t want to reveal the true content of the e-mail, you can simply say “Important – Please Read Immediately” or whatever is appropriate.
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Step #2: Be Brief
A business e-mail that runs more than two or three paragraphs is too long. If you need to write prose, use a word processor and attach the document to the e-mail, but never try to tell a ballad or write a short story in a businesse-mail.E-mail writing for business is an art that can be developed; be sure to say what you want to say and nothing more – or less, as we will see in the next step.
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Step #3: Be Specific
Never start e-mails with a vague allusion to some obscure topic that the recipient cannot immediately recollect. An e-mail that begins with “Hello John, I’m the person you met at the conference last year.” That means nothing to John. A more to-the-point (and helpful to John’s memory) introduction might be “Hello John, You may not remember me but we met at the XXX Global Sales Conference in Munich in February of last year.” That gives John a fighting chance at remember who you are.
Step #4: Don’t Use Colloquialism
This is not a text message where abbreviations and contractions are normal. “How R U” is not anywhere near professional. It reeks of immaturity and an inability to frame and write a simple sentence. It also sends the message that you don’t think the recipient is important enough for you to waste time on writing full words! So, avoid that dangerous affliction called “Textspeak” and write clear words that are not prone to ambiguity.
Step #5: Be Impactful
If your first two or three sentences do not summarize the e-mail, then you are doing something wrong. Successful business professionals are typically too busy to read your whole e-mail the first time. Therefore, the first few words and sentences must capture their attention and give them a gist of the content of the rest of the e-mail. Similar to the subject line, the first paragraph (after the greeting) should be concise and precise.
Step #6: Be Proper
Finishing e-mails is difficult for many people. They don’t know what to say and mostly end up saying the same old things, like “Looking forward to hearing from you” or “I look forward to your response.” These are fine, but to make the reader sit up, you can try using a slightly more casual tone, such as “I’d appreciate your input on this” or “Thanks in advance for your attention to this matter.”
Step #7: Be Sure
Before you send any e-mail – even a casual one to a friend – do edit the text and proofread for errors in grammar, spelling and typography. Nothing looks more careless than an e-mail with misspelled words and bad grammar. Invest in a Grammarly account if you must, but make sure that your e-mail is linguistically flawless. It does not mean having impeccable knowledge of the language, but it DOES mean paying attention to detail.
These 7 e-mail writing tips are just the tip of the iceberg. To gain in-depth knowledge of professional e-mails, you can opt for a great online course such as Business E-mail Etiquette.
These tips, however, are your starting point to great e-mails that will be a pleasure to read and is likely to be responded to immediately. The ultimate goal of an e-mail is to elicit the desired response from the reader, so it doesn’t matter if your English is poor or your narrative skills are lacking. The important thing is to get the message across in the appropriate way.