5 Tips for Better Emails

Are you receiving more emails with a subject line unrelated to the content of the message — or with no subject line at all?

A blog subscriber designs websites and provides tech support, a service for which she issues monthly invoices. She sometimes gets confirmation of invoice receipt.

Lately, she has begun to receive emails with “invoice” in the subject line because someone took a shortcut and used REPLY to send a new message that has nothing to do with the invoice she sent.

Her concern: If a client has an immediate problem but the subject line does not convey urgency, her response and a critical remedy might be delayed. Her desire to provide excellent customer service can be thwarted when a client fails to make clear the nature — and related importance — of a message. Therefore …

TIP 1: Make your topic clear in the SUBJECT field.

 

TIP 2: Avoid starting your message with “I”:

When possible, open your message with a focus on the recipient or shared connections:

    • I can’t thank you enough for the wonderful photos you took of our sales event.
      better: What a fabulous job you did on the photos for our sales event!
    • I was told by James Jones at XYZ Company to contact you.
      better: Our colleague James Jones of XYZ Company suggested that I contact you.
    • I recently met with Susan Smith, and she suggested that I provide you with a sales analysis.
      better: In a recent meeting, Susan Smith suggested that you might find a sales analysis helpful. I’ll be happy to provide it.

TIP 3: In expressing thanks, be specific:

What a fabulous job you did on the photos for our sales event! We’re thrilled with the product detail you captured and vibrant colors that help support our brand.

TIP 4: Avoid th, nd and rd with numbers (often shown in superscript):

    • June 29th    >    June 29
    • October 22nd    >    October 22
    • May 3rd    >    May 3

See this post for more guidelines on superscript use with numbers.

TIP 5: Break message elements into numbered or bulleted points for ease of understanding and following directions:

Confusing elements


To achieve our goal of completing your case study by the end of October, may I ask you to please provide up-to-date metrics in these areas. Quantifiable metrics: lead time/MCT reduction, delivery performance, overhead reduction, inventory reduction, growth in sales. Other metrics (non-quantitative): reduction in meetings, reduction in material handling.

better: Clear elements

To achieve our goal of completing your case study by the end of October, may I ask you to please provide up-to-date metrics in these areas:

Quantifiable metrics
– lead time/MCT reduction
– delivery performance
– overhead reduction
– inventory reduction
– sales growth

Other Metrics (non-quantitative)
– reduction in meetings
– reduction in material handling

These past blogs offer additional insights:

12 Tips for Better Business Emails

8 Reminders for Better Emails

Are Emojis OK for Business Emails?


 

Email continues to be our primary mode of business communication. Don’t we all complain about the constant deluge of emails we receive and are expected to process every day?

Let’s pay more attention to how we word and format our messages. We’ll help our readers understand and easily respond, making communication clearer and more manageable for everyone.

I’ll bet you have colleagues who would benefit from this information. Please share!

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Kathy Watson

Kathy Watson has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)

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