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:
  1. Write the e-mail and when you are finished, run it through a spell checker.
  2. Read the e-mail back, out loud. If it is a long e-mail, print it out to make this task easier; if not, just read it from the screen.
  3. Make any corrections that are needed, then take a 5 minute break and do something else, then read it out loud again.
  4. Make any additional changes and decide if it is the way you want it to go out.
  5. Send the 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?

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.

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.

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:

5. E-mail Courtesy

E-mail is all about communication with other people and some basic courtesy goes a long way.

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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