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Writing Effective Emails

E-mail can be a very effective communication tool for many businesses when it is handled properly.  The speed, ease and interactive nature of e-mail coupled with clear messages can be an effective way to communicate with customers, vendors and employees.

Unfortunately, not all e-mail senders communicate clearly and in a business manner.  Consider the following two messages:

“hi bill  we got your order and wanted some more info.  whats your address/?  we need the po# 2  thnx  jim”

And:

“Dear Bill,

Thank you for your order.  We need some additional details to get the order processed and shipped quickly.  Please provide a shipping address and a purchase order number.

Thanks again for the order.  We appreciate your business.

Jim Smith

800/123-4567

jsmith@abcmfg.com

Which one do you think makes the better impression on your customer?

Some guidelines

  • Treat your email with respect.  It should be like any other piece of business correspondence.  That means proper spelling and punctuation.  Take advantage of spell-check in your email system if it is available.  Read it over before hitting the send button.  Many people print email messages and you want any printed material to properly present you and your company.
  • State your reason for the e-mail.  Many people receive dozens of e-mail messages every day.  Get your reader’s attention by getting to the point very quickly.  The reader may never get to your message if it is hidden in the second or third paragraph.
  • Don’t overload the reader.  Sending several e-mail messages a day with little pertinent information will bore your reader.
  • Include contact information. Always make it easy for the reader to get back in touch with you.  Include your name, phone number and e-mail address.  Remember that the message may be printed out and then deleted from the reader’s system.  If that happens, the reply button will not be sufficient
  • Make it look good.  Format the message so that it is easy to read.  A page of single-spaced type is no easier to read on a computer screen than it is on a sheet of paper.  Some white space (a line) between paragraphs will make it much easier to read.  You can use bold and italic if needed.  However, a message that is all bold or all capital letters is going overboard.
  • Be careful with attachments. Attach pertinent information if it is appropriate.  Large attachments with extensive graphics take time to download.  If you want your reader to see your beautiful brochure, make it a part of your website and provide a link in the e-mail message.  The reader can always print it from your website.

Final words

E-mail can be a great tool.  But remember that it will only be effective if it used properly.  Never put anything in an e-mail you wouldn’t want someone to see.