E-Mail - The Most Important Online Communication Tool
By Terry Williams
In the online world, e-mail is the most important contact you have with prospective clients, current customers and business associates! After all, e-mail is all about communication, so CLARITY should be your ultimate goal. Have you ever thought about what your recipient thinks about YOU and YOUR BUSINESS, based upon the e-mail messages you send them? You might be very surprised!
Rate Your E-mail Writing Ability
Before Sending Email
|I recommend trying this quick 5-step e-mail self test before you send
out your e-mail:
It may seem like quite a bit to go through, especially if you are sending out a lot of e-mails every day but I think you will find that your outgoing mail will become more effective and it even could create a few sales in the process. Once you get the hang of it, you can probably remove step 4 and possibly step 3 to shorten the process.
Some Tips For Writing More Effective E-mail Messages
Before we get into the message of the e-mail itself, we need to discuss the SUBJECT, TO and FROM sections of the e-mail first. These three items have a major effect on the eventual outcome of your e-mail message.
1. E-mail Subject Line
When you are browsing through your incoming e-mail, how do you decide which ones to look at first, or at all for that matter? By the SUBJECT! Just as in ad headlines, the SUBJECT is the most important part of your e-mail message. So how do you get your e-mail looked at first?
- Always include a subject line in your e-mail.
- Make the subject line meaningful to the recipient. This is where you use keywords about the content of the message. Don't use all capital letters as it is commonly considered as SHOUTING. Use words that invoke an emotion if possible.
- If you are replying to a message but are changing the subject of the conversation, change the subject too — or better still, start a new message altogether. The subject is usually the easiest way to follow the thread of a conversation, so changing the conversation without changing the subject can be confusing to the recipient and could cause your e-mail to be deleted.
2. E-mail To & From Headings
Use personal names if possible. Most e-mail programs allow you to use a textual string that is attached to your e-mail address. Look in the help file of your e-mail software to find out where to place your name. A personal name attached to your address identifies you much better than your address will by itself.
- Use a sensible personal name that identifies you to your recipients. Once you build goodwill with this name it will be worth a fortune.
- Use personal names of your recipients. If someone re sponds to you using their own personal name, reply back to them with the same personal name. This will create a more personal relationship with whom you are communicating.
3. The E-mail Format
You want to format your message length and content based on the conversation and the tenor of the communication. Your personal messages will look and feel completely different than your business messages and if you are only making a quick query, then keep it short and to the point.
- Keep the content on subject. If you need to change the subject in the middle of the message or branch off onto a totally new and different direction, then it's often better to send a new message.
- Use capitalization sparingly. Don't type your message in all CAPITALS, it's extremely difficult to read and considered by many as SHOUTING. However, you might want to use a short stretch of capitals to emphasize a point.
- Use correct grammar and spelling. Mes sages should be clear, concise and to the point.
- If your e-mail program supports fancy formatting (bold, italic, etc.), be careful not to over kill. There are still quite a few e-mail programs that cannot display these features and your e-mail looks terrible to the recipient (they will also receive all the codes and no formatting).
4. E-mail Replies
How many times have you received an e-mail with the entire original message in cluded in the reply? These e-mail messages take quite a bit of time to download. Here is the appropriate way to reply to an e-mail:
- Include just enough of the original message to refresh the recipient's memory. Also, you want to set off the original context with a marker.
- Always check the TO & CC headings. I'm sure you have received an e-mail with 50 or more e-mail addresses on it, usually spam, and someone hits the reply button and doesn't remove all of the addresses and everyone gets back the same message. This is not only careless but annoying.
- Make sure before you reply, that a reply is really warranted.
5. E-mail Courtesy
E-mail is all about communication with other people and some basic courtesy goes a long way.
- Use please and thank you.
- Make sure you send someone at least a quick "I received your request and will get back with you by tomorrow" type message.
- Use smiley faces to put body language and emotions in your e-mail messages.
- Praise someone in public and chastise in private.
6. E-mail Signatures
Most e-mail programs can automatically add a signature to the end of your messages. Make sure your signature announces your USP, identifies who you are and includes contact information (phone, fax, URL are usual). Keep your signature short, four to seven lines maximum.
The Bottom Line
E-mail is one of the most important marketing tools any business utilizes for writing and communicating. Always remember that you are dealing with people and people come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. Like any other tool, e-mail should be used with purpose and care! If you apply the "quick little self-test" provided, you will be well on your way to mastering e-mail.
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