June 1, 2010

Tips To Write E-mail People Will Read and Respond To

Times have changed and so has my advice about e-mail etiquette. And that’s because people are now checking e-mail on their cell phones, smart phones, pda, and any number of other ways.

A few years ago I suggested that your “Subject Line” should really describe what your e-mail is going to say. I wasn’t suggesting including two or three sentences in the “Subject Line” but, instead, a pretty good summary of what was to come. Today, my advice is to be descriptive but brief. Remember, I’m reading your e-mail on my Blackberry 8800. Others are using an iPhone or other Smartphone. If your subject line is too long it won’t fit on my screen and I probably won’t rush to open it up.

Here are some ideas to get people to open, read, and respond to your e-mails:
  • I am notorious for sending e-mails that refer to an attachment but don’t attach the attachment itself. I get distracted or hurry to click send and off it goes without the attachment. Now, if I’m sending an e-mail with an attachment I attach it first, and then write the e-mail. Works every time. As long as you remember to attach the attachment first.
  • Sometimes I click the “Reply All” button, write my text and click “Send” without another thought. That is, until I get the nasty e-mail from one of the recipients who should not have received my reply. Check carefully, before clicking “Send” to be sure the recipients listed are the people you really want to receive your e-mail. This tip can save you a lot of hassles.
  • Please stop sending e-mails on stationary with all the colors and lines and mess in the background. It takes forever to open these e-mails and I can’t read them at all on my Blackberry.
  • If you are writing to me and copying others please use the salutation “Brad” so the others know the e-mail is to me without having to scroll to the top of the page. This ends a lot of confusion.
  • Even though I am preaching brevity, I still think it would be nice if you would write in complete sentences and include complete thoughts. I fear that e-mail is going to doom writing as we used to know it. Many teens today couldn’t use a pen and paper to write a thank you note if their life depended on it. What a shame. Just because it’s e-mail is no excuse to forget about grammar and sentence structure. On the other hand, if this means your e-mail is going to be several pages long, pick up the phone or walk to the office next door instead of sending an e-mail. Personal, face-to-face contact with other humans should not also be a thing of the past.
I could go on an on, but I think these tips should be enough to get you on track to start writing e-mails people will read and respond to. Now, have at it!

Got a tip of your own you're willing to share with me? Please leave a comment.
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TheBAFSignal by Bradley A. Friedman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at www.bafman.com.