You spend a huge chunk of your day sending and receiving emails. Popular, quick, and convenient, emails have revolutionized business communications. Here are 7 easy ways to improve your email's readability and ensure a faster response from the recipient:
- Make sure the recipient knows it's from you. Why would they open the email if they can't discern who it's from? Make sure your full name appears in the FROM field. If your email address, your first name only, or a nickname appear in that field, the recipient may not know it's from you.
- Keep the formatting simple. Remember, even though it may look great in your email client, it may look like gobbledegook in your recipient's email client. People don't usually take the time to read a butchered email.
- Don't have a lengthy and distracting signature. Two to four lines will suffice. Fight the temptation to include several paragraphs, quotations, or your biography. Provide your readers with a link to your website and trust that they'll click on that link if they want more information about you. Also, if you do choose to go with a longer signature, do not include it on your replies. No need to keep throwing the magnum opus in their faces throughout the entire email exchange.
- Only one subject per email. If you want the recipient to respond now instead of later, don't give them more than one thing to do. If you clutter up your email message with multiple tasks for the recipient, you make it easier for them to procrastinate. Rather than sending out one message that covers multiple subjects, send out multiple messages, each with its own discreet subject.
- Tell them what you need in the first sentence. Put your request at the top of the email and let the recipient decide if they need more information. If you give your recipient paragraphs, or even pages, of information that they have to wade through before they get to your request, chances are they will put off reading it until later. Worse yet, they may delete it without getting to the end because they think it's irrelevant.
- Keep it short. If it takes longer than a couple of minutes for a recipient to read your email, they will likely delay reading it until they feel they have more time. If they set it aside, you run the risk that they may never get back to it! Some productivity experts advise you keep your email down to five sentences or less. Consider using a different form of communication (phone, meeting, formal report) if you don't think a short email can get the job done.
- Tell them your request is urgent or time-sensitive. Most people want to be helpful, and they need help prioritizing. Be straightforward, but don't over do it. If you're constantly telling people you need things immediately, they may begin ignoring your emails. Say exactly how time-sensitive something is. For example, “It's not urgent, but I do need this by the end of the week. " Then, track the request in a time management system and follow up on it.
A freelance copywriter and editor, Kristen Michaelis publishes the popular monthly e-zine The Wonderworking Minute . Each edition of The Wonderworking Minute contains valuable hints and tips for helping you become a better marketer, communicator, and person. Sign up today for your free subscription to the e-zine and receive a FREE copy of her report “How To Gain And Keep Clients Through Strategic Partnering. ” She and her husband Steve have partnered to create Wonderworking Words , a freelance copywriting services company. For more articles and tips like this one, check out The Wonderworking Words Blog .