How to Write a Business Email That Stands Out
Chances are you get hundreds of emails into your inbox every week. Those you are emailing are probably getting the same. So, how do you make sure yours gets read and, most importantly, acted upon?
When writing a business email, there are a few easy things you can do and rules of etiquette you can follow to give it a better chance of being seen by your intended audience and the desired action being taken.
Slow down when writing an email
Time is money in 2016, in a way it never has been before, but formulating your thoughts to put into an email takes time. Giving yourself this time means your email will be more relevant to the recipient so they are more likely to act on it.
Taking your time when writing an email also reduces the likelihood that you will make a mistake, which can range from a couple of simple spelling or grammar mistakes to the email being sent to the wrong individual.
It may seem basic enough, but even though we are at work, we are all people communicating with other people. So take the time to properly greet the person you are emailing in an appropriate way. Some ideas of what to include are:
- The context of why you are emailing: “It was great to meet you at the conference, hope you enjoyed the rest of the speakers.”
- A friendly greeting: “How did the presentation we were talking about last week go?”
The important thing to ensure is that the tone and style of your greeting is tailored to the recipient and matches the expectations of the industry. For example, an email to a client employed at a white shoe firm will be quite different to an email you might send to a junior colleague.
Know your audience
Even if you have never met the person you are emailing, try to tailor the email to them as much as possible. Try to gather a little information on them from your colleagues, your CRM or even check out their LinkedIn profile for common areas of interest.
If you do know them, all the better. Consider their personality when you are writing to them and try to match their style. For example, are they relaxed and easy going or more formal and professional? Try to incorporate this into your email.
Beginning, middle and end
You have probably heard this rule since preschool, but it is something which we often forget to apply to emails. They don’t have to be long, but your email should always have a beginning, a middle and an end. Each may only be one line, but it is important to include all three:
- Beginning: contains your greeting
- Middle: the reason for your email
- End: summary of action required and timeline if applicable
Headers and bullet points in email writing
Ideally emails should be short and to the point, but sometimes there is a lot to cover. In those instances, how you write your email is more important. We scan instead of reading when we are viewing something on a screen. To accommodate this, break content up with headers, bullet points and correct formatting.
This makes it much easier for your recipient to digest the email and quickly get the point. And remember, if you find that your email contains a lot of headers and too many bullet points, it may be too detailed and an alternative form of communication might be more appropriate.
Deadline dates in business writing
If your email requires action, and most business emails should, it’s useful to put a deadline date towards the end of the email and in the subject line so it is clear when the action needs to be completed.
The important of the subject line
You may have crafted a wonderful email but all that effort is wasted if it isn’t opened on time or at all! The subject line matters for two reasons:
- It makes your email easier to categorize. While basic subject lines such as “catch up” or “meeting” may make sense now, they may not give much information on a topic in six months time.
- More importantly, a strong subject line gives an email meaning for the reader and with that they can judge its importance quickly.
More on email etiquette
For more on email etiquette, check out our blog post on the correct use of the To, CC and BCC fields to make sure your email gets in front of the right person. Or read our 10 email mistakes to avoid post to make sure you are ready to hit send.