Want to Write Better Business Emails? Try These 10 Tips
As a small business owner, you probably spend a good amount of time communicating with other people via email – your employees, your customers, and your vendors.
Using email is a good idea if you want something in writing. And, if you’re asking someone to do something, having it in writing is a great plan. But, how do you write a better email?
Keep It Short
Whoever you’re emailing also has a lot to do, so don’t waste their time. Use only the amount of words necessary to tell them what you need to tell them or ask them a question. If you’re sharing a lot of necessary background information, consider adding a TLDR (“Too Long, Didn’t Read”) to summarize and make it obvious what they should do next.
Get to the Point
This tip goes hand-in-hand with keeping your email short. Try to sum up the point of the email in the subject line and the first sentence. That way the person knows what’s going on before they get too far into the email.
When you’re emailing busy people, this gives them a chance to figure out if they have to deal with the email now or if they can wait until they have more time.
Remember the Subject Line
Never forget to include a subject line. If you’re emailing an employee (who you see every day), it can be tempting to forget the subject line to save yourself a couple of seconds. But, a subject line is important because it tells the recipient what they can expect and if they have to act right away.
Oh, and don’t use ALL CAPS in the subject line. It doesn’t come across as something important; it just sounds like you’re yelling at the person.
Include a Clear Call to Action
Sending an email just to send an email is a waste of everyone’s time. So, why are you sending it? What should the person do next?
Tell them. Very clearly tell the recipient what they should do with the email. Do you want them to respond with any questions about their invoice? Do you need them to call a customer? By spelling out exactly what you want the recipient to do, there won’t be any confusion, and everyone will be on the same page.
Your call to actions and anything else in your emails should be as specific as possible.
If you’re asking them to do something, tell them what you want, how you want it, when you want it, and any other details they’ll need. Don’t make them keep coming back because they thought they were finished when they weren’t (because you weren’t clear on what you wanted).
If someone sends you a project that’s not exactly where you want it to be, don’t just tell them it’s not done. Tell them, “We’re on the right track, but here are three things we can do to get it to where it needs to be.” That way the person knows exactly what they need to do and doesn’t have to guess at what you want.
There’s probably a lot of jargon in your industry, but that doesn’t mean you can (or should) use it. Instead, stick to language that everyone you’re emailing knows and understands.
You probably don’t think about proofreading your emails very often because it’s so easy to type a quick reply and send it out. But, it’s pretty embarrassing to send out an email with a huge typo in it.
After you’ve typed out your message, reread it. If you can, let it sit for a few hours before rereading it. Your brain will ignore errors you just made because it knows what you’re trying to say. But, if you let your message sit for a bit, you’ll be able to catch your mistakes.
Letting your emails sit is especially helpful if you’re angry or frustrated when you’re first typing the email. You’ll have time to calm down and make sure you’re not saying anything hurtful, passive aggressive, or that you’ll regret later.
Don’t Be Too Stiff
There’s a difference between being professional and being formal. You can still be professional while using a casual tone.
Save the formal language for legal documents. Nobody likes to read it, and it can mask what you’re really trying to say.
If you’re emailing a new customer or vendor for the first time, you can keep it a little more formal until you get to know them better. But, if you’re emailing someone you’ve had a relationship with for a while, you can be a little more conversational in your emails.
Don’t make your recipient open an attachment to find out what it is. They might not need it yet or not have the time to look at it. Instead, tell them, “I’ve attached a copy of your invoice.” They’ll know exactly what you’ve attached without even opening it.
Don’t Forget the Magic Words
Please and Thank You will never go out of style, so don’t forget to use them, please.