Nobody likes to be ignored. But when it comes to business emails, being ignored is more than irritating, it’s downright detrimental. Here we’ll look at how to structure professional email to improve the likelihood of it being opened, read and actioned.
Subject: Craft this line with care
First off, let’s deal with what gets seen first – the subject line. The recipient of your email will see this little titbit of information before anything else and it can make or break the chances of them clicking “Open”. Your subject line needs to be eye catching and captivating. Don’t let a generic line let you down here!
Do not write “URGENT!” or “IMPORTANT!” unless it actually is… and you’re going to follow that up with a few words detailing what the email is actually about. Without context, your big capital letters will just make your message appear to be junk mail. Try the below instead:
- Phrase your subject line as a question that would elicit a need-to-respond reaction.
- Include the action required in the subject line, so they can understand why exactly they need to know the contents of the email.
- Let them know that by not reading the email, they might be missing out on something of value. This emotional tactic works especially well if you have a time bound promotion.
Now, let’s move on to the greeting. Once you have the recipient’s attention and the email has been opened, it’s important to retain their interest. The opening address is also of vital importance.
Ditch the generic “To Whom It May Concern” greeting! If you don’t know (or can’t find out) who your email should be addressed to, instead address it to a position or a department. Anything is better than generic and old fashioned “Dear Sir or Madam”. This isn’t 1929!
Can you scan?
The body of your email needs to be catered specifically for your addressee. Chances are the recipient is going to skim your email, rather than carefully read it like it’s a work of Shakespeare. So scrap long sentences, dear Romeo!
Avoid block-like paragraphs. Avoid block-like paragraphs. Avoid block-like paragraphs. Avoid block-like paragraphs. Avoid block-like paragraphs. Avoid block-like paragraphs. Avoid block-like paragraphs. Avoid block-like paragraphs. Avoid block-like paragraphs. Avoid block-like paragraphs. Avoid block-like paragraphs.
- Truncate your information with bullet points.
- Use bold to highlight certain information and avoid confusion at all costs!
- Or if you’re replying to an email – respond to specific points from their previous message in a different colour next to their writing.
You are your own Litmus Test
At the end of the day, look at your own email and think to yourself:
Is the call to action identifiable at a glance?
Is the subject line interesting and original?
Is the email easy to read, or does it look like a sequel to War and Peace?
Crafting professional email is not rocket science, but it does require getting rid of bad habits and paying attention to the way you write, structure and phrase your content. It might take a minute or two longer, but unless your email gets read, any time spent on it will be a waste!