7 Steps For Writing Emails Your Audience Will Actually Read
Email can be the simplest way to reach someone, but it isn’t always received. Maybe the recipient stepped away from his or her desk, or maybe * gasp* he or she ignored it.
As Publications Manager for Linden, I spend a lot of time coordinating with sources. A communication breakdown can affect deadlines, and our clients deserve on-time delivery.
So how do I make sure my emails are always read? Good planning and good writing.
1. Intentions are front and center in the subject line. This doesn’t have to be a full sentence, but it should be crisp and clean. Examples from my sent files include: “Photo for June Column” and “Qbee.org or queenbeegardens.com?”
The Wind River Visitor’s Council sent an email with this effective subject line recently: “Press Release: Dubois, WY, is Best Architecturally Preserved Town.”
2. Pleasantries and small talk are wonderful if you know the recipient well. If not, get right to business.
I sent this cold email to a photographer in Lander:
“I’m looking for an image of the Kilpecker Sand Dunes for a cover photograph for the March issue of Wyoming Rural Electric News (WREN) Magazine.
Do you have an image that might work for us?”
3. Keep it short and sweet. If that seems an insurmountable task, follow the journalism rule: write the story, then edit half of the words out.
4. Do you have more than one topic or question? Number them.
“Thank you for writing for WREN Magazine! I have a few questions about your story:
- Are there three lakes at the park, or are there more?
- What year did the family move to the area?
- Is Sarah the correct spelling for landowner Sarah Smith?
5. “Thank you for your consideration,” followed by your name, is a fine ending to a request. Military letters and emails end with “Very Respectfully” or “V/R.” Less formal emails end with nothing, just the signature.
6. The signature should include your name and contact information. Nothing else is necessary.
7. The last step is the first: Type the recipient in the “To” line after you’re finished writing the email. This prevents you from accidentally sending your email before it’s complete!
For more information on email writing, read this great article Jeff Haden wrote for Inc.com.