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How to write an efficient Email?

Well, you are not alone in this.
Many of us make mistakes while communicating irrespective of the format.

In this post, we’ll discuss around effective email communication.

Writing effective emails can be a challenge. You've written an important message that you know your audience could use. But they seem to ignore your emails. It may be time to step up your game. 

Why email is important
  • Easily readable in all types of devices
  • Support both casual and formal conversations
  • Saves introverts with the awkward silence on the phone
  • Can attach most of the files

Why writing a good email is important

  • A study indicates that in 2018, the average business person sends approximately 43 business emails daily (not to mention the 97 emails, on average, they receive each day
  • At least 33% of your time is spent reading, organizing, prioritizing, and replying to email. That’s a lot of time
  • Your email fetch you, potential clients,
  • At the workplace, effective email writing skills can help you get that promotion (Yes, it’s incredible. I’ve seen this happening) 

What mistakes we make
  •   Writing a 500+ words email. Well, such emails are good if you are sharing an educational or learning content and you are pretty sure of your audience taste. But in a business environment, where everyone is short on time or in a casual environment, where people prefer quick bites, long emails won’t work
  • Relying on previous subject lines or a quick shorthand e.g. Following up / A quick check
  • Messing up with casual & formal greetings – Hey Joe in business email won’t look so good
  • Using rhetoric questions – “How are you?” or “What’s up?”
  • Using overfamiliarity (especially in a business context) – Using a lot of emoticons to ‘forcefully’ build a casual connection
  • Use of stock photos as part of images – They are fake and worse thing people can tell that they are fake
  •  Taking an eternity to frame a perfect response – many a time a procrastinator or perfectionist in us, make us hold the reply to the last moment or in some cases beyond that. For God sake, reply asap if you have the info handy or follow up as soon as possible but don’t keep readers, clients, friends waiting 

What are good email etiquettes

Now emails can be of multiple categories – 
  • Personal (writing to friends or family members) – Well we hardly use them in the age of WhatsApp and Facebook
  • Workplace (writing to a colleague or senior leadership)
  • Business (writing to clients, readers etc.)

Thus, dividing this section accordingly 

Applies to all type of emails
  • Keep it short -Thumb rule which I follow in my business interaction is to try to keep emails to 5 lines. In casual chat, I keep it maximum of 3 lines. There are exceptions when I need to explain a lot or share minutes of meeting but exceptions should be exceptions, do not turn them into a regular practice

  • Make correct use of greetings. A study conducted by Boomerang see reading lift with use of greetings – Hey (most effective), hello, hi, greetings, dear (least effective of these five)
  • Get your first sentence right – The purpose of first sentence of an email is that people read the second sentence. Make them a good hook
  • Make things easy to read - The average person only spends about 11 seconds reading an individual email, which is why you not only need to keep things short but also relatively easy to read
  • Consistency in content – Make sure that all your headings, text, CTAs are in-sync in terms of font & size (Headings can vary in size if you are writing a creative proposal but try to keep everything in sync). If you want to introduce a new section with couple of lines then make sure to do the same for each section
  • Remember your attachments – It will look bad if you send an attachment with whole leadership team in cc but to your chagrin you forgot to attach the sheet. What will look worse than that? – Doing the same mistake but this time with clients or potential VCs
  • Design your email properly – Earlier we saw that boon of email is that it can be readable, irrespective of device. In order to make sure that you get most out of it, design accordingly. Make the design of the email responsive i.e. irrespective of the platform it should auto-fit
  • Never hit Send button in anger – Believe me you will regret it a lot. 

Long time back when I was naΓ―ve (well I still can be sometimes), a colleague sent an email accusing our team of providing wrong information and here was my reply –

Hey Dean,
As discussed previously attached is the sheet which was requested. 
The same was sent in our prior communication.
Let me know if there is some gap and our team needs to do a rework on it
Well! Guess what, I forgot to attach an excel sheet
Hey Dean,
Attaching the sheet this time
Only to find it out later that the sheet wasn’t in the downloadable format
Hey Dean,
Just realized the attachment is in corrupt format so sending the link 
Not to mention there were a lot of senior folks in the CC 
  • Check your outbox before leaving – Poor internet connection, uncharged laptops, time shortage can play a devil’s role in closure of this email business. It will really look bad on you that you followed all the tips in this article and only to realized later that email was lying in your Outbox only. 

Mostly applies to Workplace emails
  • Getting your CC rights

  • Replying on the threads– Do you want your recipient to be aware of context or previous conversations? Do use threads then, while replying. If the conversation is in some other email thread then attach that one in your email so that your recipient is aware of premises. If you start a new thread every time you will be inviting mistakes and complications and you’ll probably ruin their organization system
  • State your purpose upfront – People are short on time and patience. It’s good to mention the purpose of your email upfront – “I’m writing this email to…”
  • Avoid using words that create doubt - That means avoid using words like “probably”, “likely”, “most likely”, “I guess”, etc. To be precise, avoid making speculations in email

Mostly applies to Business emails
  • Use an interesting subject line to hold the attention of your audience. Or if it’s a regular audience then at least let them know what to expect in the mail
  • Use perfect cliffhangers – If your email is more than 5 sentences then it should have a cliffhanger in the body. If your email is a business proposal then it must have a cliffhanger in the body. Cliffhangers can be as simple as – “In few sentences down I’ll show you…” or they can be an interesting one like – “My story is so embarrassing that I can’t mention it upfront. I have to hide it in-between the content” 
  • Use meaningful CTAs (important for the business context) – Most of the business emails purpose is to make users click on the CTAs. So, it is important to make them contextual. Also, expose them upfront, don’t hide them behind images. Double check the link of CTAs and the landing page
  • Get your images right – Invest in getting professional photos. Follow the rule of 3rd i.e. images should be 1/3rd of your whole email


Some good email campaigns

Apps & Tools to help us in writing better emails

  1. Hemingway EditorHemingway Editor is a free online tool that emphasizes readability and correctness. Paste any email into the reader and it will highlight sentences that are difficult to read, passive voice, adverbs, and overly complicated phrases. Hemingway also provides readability ratings by grade level
  2. The Just Not Sorry Google Chrome extension will strengthen your writing and remove weak words and phrases such as “I think” and “Sorry.” The extension highlights weak words in your emails in the “Compose” window
  3. Sortd for Gmail - Sortd lets you organize your inbox into drag-and-drop lists -- like Trello, but for your email. After you've read an email, decide which category it belongs in (maybe "To do," "To be reviewed”, or "Follow up")
  4. Inbox by Gmail - If you already have a Gmail account, you can effortlessly switch over to Inbox. This tool automatically bundles your messages into categories, including "Trips," "Updates," "Social," "Finance," and more. You can create custom categories with rules 
  5. Grammarly  – I hate grammar and that’s why I love Grammarly. When you do your writing in this app it will point out grammar errors, alternative word suggestions and pesky contextual mistakes spot check your writing by copy/pasting it in Grammarly
  6. – The Three Sentences mantra isn’t going to work for everyone, but some people it will work like a charm. The website, ‘ is a personal policy that all email responses regardless of recipient or subject will be three sentences or less
  7. Really Good Emails – This project is part-swipe folder and part-appreciation society for really good emails. Only the best makes it into this super carefully curated portfolio. Check out best in-class emails in a variety of categories, from announcements to customer appreciation.

Happy Effective Emailing

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