How to write the perfect e-mail

E-mail is one of the most used forms of communication today, make sure you’re using it right

 

By: Matt Beauchamp, Owner of MRB Ink

E-mail is one of the most used forms of communication today. Most of us use it all day everyday. We receive countless e-mails all day, often opening one to find a long rambling message that quickly has us deleting it.

We’ve all seen these e-mails. The ones where we wonder if the writer had any idea what they were doing when they crafted their message.

The funny thing is, we’re likely guilty of writing these e-mails as well.

When we’re contacting someone for the first time, why is it so hard to write that perfect e-mail?

Not to worry, we’ve got some tips to help you write a great e-mail that gets your message across and gets your e-mail read. We’ll even give you an example of the perfect e-mail.

Why are you writing?

First you need to establish WHY you are writing the e-mail. Are you looking to get a reply from the recipient? Are you paying them a compliment with no reply necessary? Are you inquiring about something? Or is the point of the e-mail just to open communication lines for sometime in the future?

Once you have established the point of your e-mail, it’s much easier to craft something more specific, which in turn will make it more likely to reach your goal.

Get to the point

People want to know why you’re writing and they want to know fast. Skip long-winded introductions, compliments and stories about how you know a friend-of-a-friend. Tell the reader why you’re writing and what you want from them.

If you need a reply make sure they know it. If no reply is necessary then let them know they don’t need to get back to you. They’ll love to hear it!

K.I.S.S

Keep it simple, stupid! It’s almost shocking that this needs to be said, but it’s true. There’s nothing worse than receiving an e-mail that is cluttered with pictures, and hyperlinks and different kinds of font.

Keep your message straight forward and to the point. If your message can be said in only a couple of sentences, then do that. Trim excess sentences and words to ensure that you only have the real meat of what you’re trying to say.

What’s in it for them?

Too often e-mails are about what’s in it for you, why the receiver should help you, etc. Don’t be afraid to tell them what’s in it for them.

Make sure if you’re stating benefits that they are reasonable. For example e-mailing Mashable and asking for a shout-out on their front page isn’t reasonable. Make sure you do your homework and that the receiver actually does what you are asking.

Face-to-face

As your writing your perfect e-mail, think of it the same as introducing yourself to someone face-to-face.

When meeting someone for the first time it’s not likely you would excessively shower them with compliments, or give them your whole life story. More realistically you’d do a quick introduction of yourself, then listen to them as they did the same.

In writing an e-mail this equates to hitting the send button after an introduction.

20 questions

Try to minimize the amount of questions you ask in an e-mail. The more questions (especially open-ended one) you ask, the less likely you are to get a response.

Keep your questions to one or two max per e-mail. Make sure you ask direct questions like, “Can we meet for coffee next week to discuss the proposal?” Don’t expect all of life’s questions to be answered in one e-mail. Avoid questions like “How can I get rich quick.”

Remember you can always ask more question in additional e-mails. They key here is to keep the lines of communication open.

Example

Here’s an example of a terrible e-mail.

Dear Matt,

I hope you are doing well! I was curious if you had any concerns about your online marketing and how it works or figuring out what is going to work you’re your project. I know firsthand how frustrating and challenging it can be to keep focused on your marketing with all of the different channels out there and all of the information.

When I first started my own company, I didn’t even know where to start with my marketing projects. Should I go with social media? A website? Who should I call? Luckily over the years I figured it all out!

We’ve had tremendous success with companies like ABC Corporation, where we took a marketing budget and expanded their company base by 50%. Would you like more customers? Do you want to see increased profits?

Would it make sense for us to chat? Either by phone or in person? If you don’t feel like we can be of service then please let me know, otherwise I would love to talk to you about what areas you are trying to address and how we could help. Could you please get back to me?

Thanks!

Jim Smith

Thankfully this is not an e-mail I have actually received, however I have received some VERY similar to this. Long, with too many questions, and only a vague understanding of what they could do for me.

Using the tips we’ve discussed above, here’s how this e-mail should be.

Hi Matt,

I’m writing on behalf of <Insert Web URL>.  We create online marketing programs that make it easy for businesses to grow.

Here are some companies we have created successful programs for <Insert list of related and well known sites>. Creating a program with us takes very little time and most companies see results they love within the first two weeks.

I have openings on Wednesday and Friday of next week to share these strategies with you, which day would work for you?

 

Jim
ABC Marketing Company
Marketingcompany.com

 

Take Home Points

·      Get to the point

·      Keep it simple

·      Clearly state next action

·      Present benefits

·      Edit for conciseness

·      Limit questions

Author: Stephen Howell

I engage with business leaders to support the development of Leadership and Management skills. Through a concept called Curb Visioning I provide honest unbiased feedback that will challenge your thinking and promote your personal development and effectiveness. Turning your ambitions into accomplishments is within your grasp!

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