Never have an email go unanswered again. Get your emails read with these simple rules.
It’s a constant battle to keep up with the deluge of emails inundating my inbox on a regular basis. Between my online publications, social media alerts, and the god-forsaken spam email, it’s a wonder I’m ever able to find and respond to the emails that matter most.
I’m not surprised. According to Outlook, 144.8 billion – that’s billion with a b – are sent every day worldwide. Sadly, a report by McKinsey Global Institute and International Data Corp found that workers only consider a mere 14 percent of the emails in their inbox to be important.
If you want to succeed in business, you need to effectively communicate with your colleagues and professional contacts via email. Here are eight rules to help you do just that.
People often get so preoccupied with crafting their message that they forget to include a subject line. Don’t make this mistake. Emails with blank subject lines are more likely to go unnoticed in a person’s inbox. Do yourself a favor and write the subject line first so you know it’s taken care of.
While your average email inbox reveals 60 characters’ worth of the subject line, a mobile phone only displays around 25-30 characters. Keep this in mind when crafting your subject lines. They should be short, to the point, and specific so the recipient can properly prioritize his or her inbox without opening the email.
Resist the urge to add filler words or other vague terms such as “Thanks,” “Hi,” and so forth to the subject line – save those for the body of the email. Get right to the point in eight words or less, and put the most important ones at the beginning of your subject line.
Avoid sending emails with dense blocks of text – nobody wants to scroll through long paragraphs, especially if they’re accessing your email from their smartphone. Also, the longer your email, the longer you will likely wait for a response.
Bullets are a great way to sum up your points in a clear, concise manner. If there’s a call-to-action or deadline associated with your email, call attention to this by either bolding and/or highlighting the sentence. I recommend including the deadline in your subject line. For instance:
“Sarah: Need specs for NYC McFadden project – pls reply by EOD 9/12”
A disadvantage of communicating via email is that the tone of your message is often lost in translation. In fact, a survey by Sendmail found that 64 percent of professionals sent and/or received email that unintentionally caused anger or resentment in the workplace. Don’t leave your message up to interpretation. Save the humor for face-to-face conversations.
No one likes to be yelled at, especially over email. Unfortunately, that’s exactly how people will interpret your email response in all caps. DON’T DO THIS. IT’S NOT POLITE.
Remember the boy who cried wolf? If you flag every email as a high priority, pretty soon your recipients will learn to ignore them. Save this tag for the truly high-priority items. If your team has different definitions as to what qualifies as an urgent email, bring it up in your next meeting so everyone’s on the same page.
Do you have other email tips? Share them in the comments below.