Recently our Being Your Own CEO Success Circle held an exploration of this topic and there were some ideas that I think worth sharing. I will include the results of my research as well as include some suggestions made by the others:
Before You Begin: Be clear in your own mind what your objective for this message is. Decide on the Call to Action (CTA), whether specific or implied.
The Subject Line is the most important if you want to ensure that the message will be opened and read. Maximum number of characters is 50. Use strong words that indicate what the message is about and gives a reason to open the message. A Google search for “Power Words” will give you lots of examples. Make your subject line intriguing; audacious even. In some cases you can even include some sense of what may be required so that the reader can manage their in-box – “Reply by Feb. 25th” or “Action required” or “For your information” for example.
Personalize Your Message: Use the person’s name in the message if you know it. Make the tone of the message as though you are speaking personally to this person. Make a connection; appeal to the emotions. Be casual with no pressure.
Now, About the Content: If it’s a functional message, say only what needs to be said or asked. If it’s for marketing purposes, tell a story or educate. Make it short. and succinct. Use bullet points. Use formatting for ease of reading. Realize that many email readers have only so much time to devote to their in-box. Ensure there are no typos or bad grammar; these can drive some people nuts. Check for readability by reading the message out loud.
Language is Important: Avoid tentative words like may, try, could, perhaps, etc. Use verbs instead of adjectives. Avoid the passive tense – Use the present tense.
The Format: Ensure there is lots of white space. Include a signature that gives your contact information in a nutshell so that the reader doesn’t need to go hunting. Include a picture of yourself (looking straight into the camera) You can develop a nice auto signature with Wisestamp for either Gmail or Outlook.
How will you know if your message was opened? Try a program that tracks your messages like MixMax or setting up the white dot process using Google Analytics.
Monday Challenge: What changes will you make to your e-mail writing?