Top 7 Tips To Help You Write More Powerful Emails
By Suzan St Maur
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Writing emails seems so easy and quick, anyone can do it without giving it a second thought. But by rushing it carelessly, are you wasting a useful opportunity to promote yourself and your business? Professional business writer Suzan St Maur shares her top tips on how to make your emails much more powerful...
- Make the effort to learn about the etiquette (these days known as "netiquette") involved in writing emails. I know it might seem a bit precious to attach so much importance to social niceties when the internet is basically very informal. However, whether we like it or not many people do take online etiquette very seriously.
- Never send and preferably don't even try to write an email if you're angry, upset, drunk, or otherwise not in total control. If you have a heated conversation with someone on the telephone you can sometimes fudge things over. But with emails, once you hit "send" whatever you've written is there, carved in tablets of stone, for as long as the recipient wants to glare at it. The old adage about "counting to ten" before responding couldn't be more true here.
- Because almost everyone at some time or another has been infected with a computer virus, people are understandably wary of attachments. I never send attachments to anyone I don't know very well, and equally never open attachments unless they're from people I know well. When in doubt append text to the body of your email message, or contact the recipient beforehand and make sure they're happy to receive it as an attachment.
- Layout of emails is something few people pay attention to, especially if their system uses text only. However even with simple text a sensible layout can make the whole thing more readable. Above all, you should avoid writing emails that sprawl all the way across the screen. Those are very hard to read and to be able to see everything properly as text, your reader may have to fiddle about changing fonts. The safest format to use consists of lines no more than 65 characters long
- Your subject line should focus on what's in it for the reader so it grabs their attention. The best way to do that is to include some sort of benefit. For example, if you're writing an email about a downwardly-revised project budget, instead of saying "Project X - revised costs" say "Project X - costs reduced by XX%"). If there isn't a genuine benefit to use, try to make it interesting and intriguing anyway. Also, avoid the words most hated by spam filters like "free," "subscribe," etc.
- Online writing has to be kept concise and clear, largely because the screen is a particularly unfriendly reading medium for most people's eyes. You need to get straight to the point and keep to it. Keep your sentences short, and only ever include one main idea or thought per sentence. Paragraphs shouldn't consist of more than 6 sentences max - fewer if possible. And if you list more than a couple of items, use bullet points.
- If you write emails for business, make good use of the signature facility that goes after your name. It's surprising just how many people fail to use that facility properly - yet it's an excellent opportunity for you to put across a few words of business promotion. Because the email signature appears at the end, your recipients are not likely to be irritated by it. In fact provided that it contains useful contact information it will be seen as a helpful addition to your message.
Suzan St Maur is a leading business and marketing writer based in the United Kingdom. You can subscribe to her bi-weekly business writing tips eZine, TIPZ from SUZE on her website go http://www.suzanstmaur.com - and you can check out her latest book, POWERWRITING: the hidden skills you need to transform your business writing here: http://www.pearsoned.co.uk/bookshop/detail.asp?item=100000000016610&affid=STM or on B&N and any of the Amazons.
© Suzan St Maur 2003-2005
Article Submitted On: February 01, 2005