How to Make Email More Effective
Here are a few key
strategies to optimize the effectiveness of your business email:
Limiting each email to one main idea simplifies things for everyone concerned
- see section on Target Audience Analysis.
Both you and your reader will find it easier to organize and respond to messages that
relate to a single topic.
Direct - Another tip to help organize messages and speed response time: use specific and accurate
subject lines. Instead of "Monthly Report", make it
"Monthly Sales Report - November 2003". Imagine how much time this will save
when you need to find that November report in a hurry.
Check - Before you hit send,
take a few moments to re-read what
written. Even if you run a spell check, look over your work for spelling,
typos and overall content. Does the message say exactly what you want
- Simplicity - Brief, uncomplicated topics lend themselves most readily
to the email format. Save complex and emotionally-charged subjects for face-to-face or
other, more appropriate, contexts.
- It's important to understand that email isn't a private
How many horror stories have you read about messages that wind up in places they
were never intended to go?
Before you put anything in writing - email, traditional
mail or memo - be sure you're prepared to be held accountable for your words if they come
back to haunt you.
- Plan - Because we can quickly and conveniently dash off an email
message, we tend to dive right in and do so. Take time to think before you write. Will
your message serve a purpose for you and your reader? And don't be in such a hurry that
you overlook spelling, grammar or the tone your words convey. Minding details like these
underscores your professionalism.
- Put your attention on the points you want to get across
in your message. Before concluding, be sure
to clearly tell
your reader what sort of response you want. For instance, "We need to
schedule a meeting with the marketing staff. Please tell me which day and time would work
best for you."
- Complete - Does your reader need additional information in order to
act on your message? Be sure to include any necessary details. And be sensitive to virus
fears and company firewalls. You may need to place information like this in the body of
your email rather than in a file attachment.
- Clarity - How many times have you struggled to make sense of the dreaded
one-incredibly-long-paragraph email? Make your messages easy to read by keeping sentences
short and breaking text into brief paragraphs. Your readers will love you for the added
Emails reflect on you and your company every bit as much as traditional business
letters do. Taking a little extra time and effort assures you that you're
presenting yourself well.