Effortless Ways To Make Email Work For You
Email sometimes gets a bad rap, but it can be an incredibly effective tool for salespeople. Unlike other forms of communication, email lets you take time to consider your thoughts. Through email, you can be creative, compelling, helpful or surprising. However, missteps are still possible. Once you hit send, emails are out of your control.
In her role as a deputy editor at Medium, Sarah Begley has uncovered some rules for work emails that are succinct, professional and respectful. We share her email-writing best practices in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.
Quickly get in and quickly get out. Whether to use "Dear" or "Hi" or "Hey there!" depends on your industry and the nature of the note, says Begley. "Hi FIRST NAME" is fine in most cases. She recommends simple sign-offs. There is nothing wrong with "Best, NAME." Do not attempt "Cheers" or "Ciao" unless you talk like that in real life, she says.
Be brief. A two-sentence email is a perfect email. Ideally the recipient shouldn't have to scroll on either mobile or desktop. That said, if you're asking someone to do something for you, give them the full information and deadline the first time around, says Begley. Don't give a short, vague pitch for your idea and then write, "Interested? Ask me for more information!"
If you don't reply fast, you must reply well. A desire to be courteous, or for "inbox zero," might suggest replying to every email immediately, but Begley says there are exceptions to this rule. Delay your response when you're not exactly sure what to say. And always delay your response if an email makes you mad. Cool off for an hour, or as long as it takes for the issue to feel more academic and less emotional.
Try to avoid emailing at strange hours. Not only is 24-hour email culture bad for your health, but research has found that it's far more effective to send important messages when they'll land at the top of someone's inbox as they sit down to work. A study out of the University of Southern California suggests that emailing on weekday mornings solicits longer responses than afternoon messages. Every email application, even Gmail, allows you to schedule emails now, so use it.
Use a voice (preferably your own). As handy as Gmail's predictive responses can be when you're on the go, you don't always have to communicate in a formulaic series of responses such as "Sounds good" and "Got it". If you'd like to insert a little more voice in your emails but aren't sure where to start (or how far to go), take notice of the phrases your colleagues use, and shamelessly copy the ones you like, suggests Begley.
Make the subject line simple. Begley recommends making them short enough to be fully legible in a push notification. Some email experts go significantly shorter than that: The media icon Tina Brown famously uses "You" as her subject line to catch the recipient's eye. Make sure the subject line is also an accurate representation of what the email is about. That way, you and your recipient will both know what the subject is about two years from now when you have to search for it. And use words like "urgent" with extreme caution, says Begley. There's no need to get someone's adrenaline pumping unnecessarily.
CC with restraint. If a colleague has requested visibility on a project, by all means copy them. But most of us could do with fewer non-essential messages. Resist the urge to CC as a form of passive aggression. If you have an issue with a colleague, take it up with them directly.
Be kind. Never forget that a sharply phrased email can ruin someone's day—and perhaps more importantly, that a kind one can make it much better. If your colleague knocks something out of the park or has a rough day, consider sending them a note of congratulations or encouragement.
Make sure you're using email the right way by following the guidance above.
Source: Sarah Begley is the deputy editor, books at Medium.