By Dianna Booher (used with permission)
In today’s world, we work, live, and die by email. Okay, I exaggerate. But it’s hard to get through a week without weeding your way through an overflowing inbox. How do you make your emails stand out—positively rather than negatively—from competitors?
For starters, correct these problems…
3 Common Email Mistakes
Vague Subject Lines
Subject lines should be a condensed version of your message and the action you want. They should be informative, not mysterious—unless you’re an email marketer. And even then, marketers often find that vague headlines don’t always intrigue buyers.
A quick scan of a week’s inbox reveals subject lines like these:
A Quick Question (About what?)
Following Up (On what?)
Last-Minute Details (Is the reader asking for them or giving them?)
Can you imagine reading newspaper headlines as vague as these: “Stock Market.” “Taxes.” “Blizzard Conditions.” You wouldn’t know where to begin reading. Unless you’re a novelist—a mystery writer at that!—turn your subject lines into informative headlines.
Subject lines should be specific, useful, brief:
How to Register for the Upcoming RW Conference & Expo
New Dates for Denver New Product Orientation: Aug 12-13
Stopping Work on FTD Coding: Glitch in Step 7
Available Friday for Call About Licensing Extension?
Unclear Actions and Timeframes
Don’t hint or imply. State exactly what you want the reader to do and when. You can soften a request by stating the action as a question or by adding a courtesy word. For example: “Would you please send me your feedback on the demo equipment by Friday, May 6?” Such a statement sounds friendly, yet still sets expectations.
Never equate courtesy with vagueness. Phrases such as “at your earliest convenience” or “as soon as possible” simply leave your reader guessing. You can be both pleasant and precise.
Openings That Close Doors
In the classic movie Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise barges into his home after an argument and long separation from his wife, starts an explanation meant as an apology, and makes a romantic plea: “You complete me… You…”
She interrupts, “You had me at hello.”
In case you don’t recall the movie plot, let me just say the similarity to email greetings stops there: Your email readers are not in love with you. (Okay, maybe your family members love you. Possibly a few favorite customers love you.) But even if emailing best friends, chances are they already have an overflowing inbox and may not want another email from you.
So your email greetings should warm clients and prospects up—not put them off.
Another thing about greetings: Stand out by “mixing It up.” My colleague Bill Lampton has mastered this principle well. Every email from him sounds as though he has just walked into my office with a fresh comment of the morning. Here are some recent greetings from his emails:
Very good, Dianna. The next thing….
How about Tuesday, Dianna?
Good morning, Dianna!
For sure, Dianna… Mid- to late-May fits my schedule…
I totally agree, Dianna, about the need to …
See how these greetings pull you right into the email as if we’re in a relationship and the conversation is just continuing?
That’s exactly the feeling you want your customers to have as they see your email in the preview window—that they’re in an ongoing relationship with you and should respond as if face to face.
So how to break through the email barrier and get quicker responses? Be specific. Say it in the subject line. Make sure your greeting warms buyers up—not puts them off.
Learn more ways to improve your email communication in Faster, Fewer, Better Emails: Manage the Volume, Reduce the Stress, Love the Results by Dianna Booher. Click here for details.
By Barbara McNichol
I agonize over how to help authors, business professionals, and WordShop students use their writing voice in interesting, meaningful ways.
Good writing requires more than just grammar and spelling. It’s style, catching someone’s attention, and making readers understand the conviction behind the words.
In my experience, one writing technique stands above all others…it adds power and memorability, and it makes writing good reading. Read on!
You’ve likely heard that people prefer the active voice over the passive. But do you know why?
Writing in the active writing voice is powerful and dynamic. It catches and holds the reader’s attention far better than passive statements. The passive writing voice is a little “weasley.” It hides responsibility for action, and it can be ambiguous, confusing, and boring.
- The active voice conveys ideas quickly and directly.
- The active voice clearly spells out the action and who is doing it.
- The active voice frequently requires fewer words than passive sentences—helpful when space is limited.
Which is Which?
In a sentence written in the active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action. In a sentence written in the passive voice, the subject receives the action.
- Active – I created Word Trippers Tips ADVANTAGE Program and I guarantee it will make you a better writer.
- Passive – The Word Trippers Tips ADVANTAGE Program was created to make you a better writer.
It’s True. My Word Trippers Tips ADVANTAGE Program will absolutely make you a better writer.
You’ll find nothing else like this program. It’s easy. Fun. And available for less than the price of a new outfit. (And think how many new outfits you can buy with a higher-paying job because you wrote a powerful résumé and cover letter.)
Not a book … not a course … this program takes almost no time every week to absorb.
by Dee Dukehart (used by permission)
I continue to see emails, blogs, articles, and other documents written with little regard for the reader. This post gives you Seven tools to enhance your email writing, your messages, and your ideas.
- Always use a salutation: Dear, Greetings, Happy Monday, Hi; any one of these is the polite way to engage your reader. After several threads with internal readers, yes, you can forget the formality and answer or reply with no salutation.
- Write a specific subject line: e.g.: “Next Thursday, 2/16/17, Marketing Committee Meeting” and not just “Meeting.” Then type in the specifics in the body.
- Use complete sentences. This is not a text message, nor a tweet; use subject, verb, object. It’s the professional way to write.
- Hook your readers with a compelling first sentence. Instead of: “I’m writing you to inform you about our new vacation policy.” (The reader knows you’re writing about this because it’s in the paragraph.) Recommended: “One more week! Your new vacation policy entitles you to one more week…!”
- Know your audience. Who are your readers? Internal? External? International? New to your industry? A combination? Do they have the same language, vocabulary and knowledge that you do?Never assume your readers understand your internal jargon or acronyms; write in simple and clear language.
- Use correct grammar, punctuation, and syntax. When you find yourself questioning the correct way to write or punctuate your sentence either ask the department grammarian – there’s usually one around – or look it up. You might need a refresher in the rules and it’s best to get it right the first time.
- Proofread. I know I’m guilty of pressing the “send” button only to find out that I’ve misspelled a word, left out a punctuation mark, or used a “you” instead of a “your,” etc. It’s embarrassing! It also makes your reader think you don’t care.
Take an extra minute or two to re-read what you’ve written.
Always write for the reader!
Dee Dukehart is a business writing trainer whose tag line is Designing and Building Clear, Crisp, Comprehensive Word Pictures. She can be contacted at Dee@DeeDukehart.com
What essential email tips would you add to Dee’s list? List them here.