Today, mobile communication platforms like Facebook Messenger, Google Hangout, WhatsApp, GroupMe, and others have become preferred methods of keeping in touch with customers and colleagues. It might seem that emails are irrelevant in today’s business and marketing culture.
But while the instantaneous nature of these messaging apps offers convenience and accessibility, and while social media metrics matter, by all means, there is a degree of professionalism in email correspondence that a brief texting exchange often lacks.
So how do you craft a business email that doesn’t come across as obsolete and manages to hold your recipient’s attention?
These four strategies are helpful and practical points of reference to consider when sending your following business email.
1) Make the Subject Line Concise
One appeal of the messaging trend is how quickly and succinctly you can deliver the information. People often don’t have the time or patience for a rambling monologue, so just a couple of text sentences is adequate to secure their interest and retention.
Keep that same approach in mind when choosing the subject line for an email thread. When a recipient checks their inbox, it’s plausible to assume they’re scanning the first three words—give or take—of the subject line, then deciding whether to open the email and continue reading. So anchor your subject line with the main point you need to communicate and place those keywords right at the beginning.
Avoid such an email marketing mistake as using language that is too verbose or can be misconstrued as “spammy.” The shorter and more direct you frame it, the more likely a recipient is to engage with the content of your email instead of scrolling past the subject line.
Most users from your contact list consider email management apps to organize their inbox, so your engaging subject lines can influence the open rate and the overall fortune of your email:
It helps users decide how to mark it and to which folder to place it.
2) Write for Your Specific Audience
When structuring the body of an email, it’s imperative to consider whom the email is addressing. Is the recipient a coworker, employee, supervisor, client, stakeholder, or another business entity? An individual’s position and connection to you will dictate what words to choose for your email.
Email has an advantage over messaging because this particular medium offers the space to personalize your communication.
For example, if the recipient is a team member you’re collaborating on a project with, the tone can be more relational and conversational with internal jargon or abbreviations used. But if the recipient is a client or employer, the writing style often needs to be less familiar and more deferential.
Don’t pander to your audience, which comes across as disingenuous—it’s essential to maintain authenticity, but consider each relationship dynamic before deciding how to write the email. A helpful gauge is thinking about your verbal communication with that person.
How you talk to a friend at the water cooler is different from how you interact with your boss in a meeting, and the email correspondence should reflect that distinction.
3) Choose a Focal Point to Discuss
There is a reason you invest time and effort into writing an email in the first place—because it serves a purpose, both for you and the person reading it. But for the sake of clarity and brevity, it should cover just one well-defined focal point instead of bouncing around to multiple half-baked, disjointed, or unrelated ideas.
When conversing through a messenger app, you often narrow the topic of discussion because it’s understood that you and the recipient are both multi-tasking in this exchange. That’s why mobile communication is widespread—it accommodates a busy, fast-paced workflow.
So adopt a similar mindset when it comes to email and assume that your recipient has the bandwidth for one call to action at a time. Now you understand why writing skills are among the must-haves for marketing professionals, don’t you?
If you’re contacting someone to verify tomorrow’s business lunch, remember you also need to forward the notes from last week’s budget meeting, and these focal points should be addressed in two separate emails. It might seem unnecessary or excessive, but this approach tends to minimize confusion because it keeps the information digestible rather than inundating the other person with several memos, tasks, or requests all at once.
4) Ask, “Is the Content Readable?”
You can interact with people using all kinds of digital media such as images, videos, and soundbites on instant messaging services. Communication threads on platforms like WhatsApp are entertaining to read, not just because they’re concise and pithy but also because they’re visual. It makes the conversation both sensory and stimulating for all parties involved.
Since email doesn’t offer that same versatility, it’s crucial to attract and maintain the recipient’s attention through your choice of words. Think of writing an email as constructing a narrative—most people are drawn to fresh, relatable, and thought-provoking information, so offer content that someone would actually want to read.
Before sending an email, skim through it and critically pose the question, “Does this absorb my interest?” If you’re not compelled by the message you have written, chances are the recipient will be even less attentive.
You might be emailing the other person about something as mundane as client feedback on a project, but this doesn’t mean your verbiage has to sound monotonous. Use descriptive language that invokes their curiosity, encourages them to brainstorm, and mobilizes them to respond positively. If the content is readable, it won’t be filtered into “junk mail.”
In a Word
There is no question that today’s business and marketing culture has gone mobile, but email correspondence still has a place. With the enormous volume of messages and push notifications flooding inboxes and smartphones daily, it’s essential to ensure that your emails are noticed—not discarded in the shuffle.
So keep the information succinct, focused, audience-specific and engaging to read. With these strategies at your disposal, sending emails won’t seem like an exercise in futility but an efficient business model.