It’s 4 PM, and so far I’ve received over thirty emails today. Email is the main form of communication in the business world. According to the Radicati’s email statistics report, there will be over 132 billion emails sent and received per day in 2017.
Between the Google calendar invites, meeting updates, and ping pong rankings (wait, is that not a normal office email? Are you sure?), work email inboxes are overwhelming. When you want to reach out to someone via email, it’s necessary to write an effective email to make sure that 1) your email gets read and 2) you receive your desired response, whether it’s an answer to a question or a new meeting.
Because I know that whoever I’m emailing has surely received at least a dozen other emails earlier that day, I always make sure to make my emails as efficient and effective as possible. By keeping the following email “rules” in mind, I ensure a high level of email open rates, response rates, and an overall strong email relationship with my professional contacts.
1) Write a brief, straightforward subject line.
According to a study performed by the blog Return Path, email open rates are 12.5% higher for subject lines with less than 49 characters, with 75% higher click-through rates. Along with a short length, it’s vital for subject lines to be direct and clear. I want my recipient to know exactly why I’m reaching out to them.
Here are a few sample subject lines:
“Perfect Search Meeting Follow-Up"
“Quick Question about the Spreadsheet"
“Interested in Scheduling Monthly Phone Calls ”
2) Keep emails concise.
Nobody has time to read a long, windy email. I personally get turned off when I open up an especially lengthy email. Since email is so popular because of its convenience, so many people read them on a smartphone. You need to keep your message brief in order to make sure that the email is easily read on a phone. A couple good rules of thumb to keep in mind: keep the email to 3-4 sentences and it should take no more than about 30 seconds to skim.
Of course, not every email can be this short. If you’re sending a longer informational email, don’t worry about the exact length. Nevertheless, do your best to get your point across as quickly as possible.
3) Make clear what you’re trying to accomplish.
It should always be immediately apparent why you’re sending the email. Your content should align with the email’s subject line and you should relay your message clearly and confidently. Whether you’re emailing someone with a specific question about a task, trying to schedule a meeting, or following up after a phone call, the recipient should know exactly why you’re emailing within the first couple lines of the email.
This shows that you’re thoughtful and action-oriented. Moreover, you want people to not only open your emails but respond to you accordingly. By composing a clear, tightly structured message, your recipient will be more likely to reply and uphold a reliable string of communication.
4) Follow up, follow up, follow up.
Don’t give up if you don’t receive a response after your first email. It’s incredibly easy for emails to slip through the cracks--believe me, it happens to us all. (I’m going to respond to your birthday email, Uncle Chet, I promise.) It’s not at all pushy to send a follow-up email after a few days or so if you haven’t received a response.
Here’s a simple example of a follow-up email that is polite yet assertive.
I’m reaching out again to schedule a debriefing meeting for next week. I’ve attached my previous email with my availability. Let me know what time works best for you. Looking forward to it!”
In short, sending an effective email is a skill you can easily hone over time. Email is the new calligraphy--it takes practice, but over time you can soon become a communication artiste. Okay, the calligraphy comparison is admittedly a bit of a stretch. But whatever, you got the message. The main takeaway here is that I want to pick up a calligraphy hobby. And, of course, I want everyone to send good emails.
How many emails do you typically get in a day? Do you get as many emails from The Gap as I do? (Seriously, Gap, I get it. You're always having a sale--no need to email me four times a day). Let us know if you have any other tips for sending an effective email. Tweet at us @perfect_search!