While working here in America, I have learned a few things about writing business type emails. Although there are many good things that are already on Internet about Business Writing, I would like to add my few cents in this article “5 Things Worth Remembering When Writing Business Emails”. Those are just a few things that I apply every day at work.
I understand that those may not be the best practices, but if you have any other great ideas on this topics, you are welcome to comment here.
Remember, that by following any rules when writing emails (either personal or business) you provide clarity in your expectations, are able to persuade your readers, show your professionalism and care, and avoid an opportunity of your emails being deleted before your message is read (about 80% messages are not read because of not following simple rules in writing).
So here they are, 5 Things Worth Remembering:
- When having more than two replies, start with a new email that summarizes the previous two emails and include a new subject line
- Always leave ONE space after punctuation mark that ends a sentence
- Apply 10 second rule (skim and scan) – decide what to do with an email (delete or continue to read). Look for sign posts (headings, bullets, bold/italics, color, etc.) they will help you to make a quick decision about the importance of your email
- Always start your emails with the most important sentence at the top and then say why. I always map out my emails ahead by:
- Setting a conversation goal (decide what do you want to achieve by sending the email)
- Do reader analysis to understand who your readers are (do they prefer to read papers, like detail or process oriented; do they like to be concise and shorter emails,is “less is more” important to them; are they bottom liners, never print, do they prefer text to pictures, etc.)
- Brainstorm for key ideas (write them down without thinking “why?”, basically write the first thing that comes to your head on that matter). Come-up with 40 keywords, then group them to 3-5 categories. If it does not matter what you want to say, it matters what they want to know
- Sort your ideas using conversational goal. The sorting process must always support your goal
- Outline support (visual support: charts, graphs, diagrams, etc; non-visual support: examples, experience, research, comparisons, etc.)
- Outline your email for quick comprehension (introduction, content set, body with support points, conclusion).
- Write your first draft
- Finalize your email with the coleague or read a couple more times to see if you will achieve the goal you are looking for
- Maximize the power of subject lines by writing your purpose (goal) and action (for example, instead of using acronims ASAP, be specific and let your reader know by what date it should be done, i.e “Need $200 by this Friday” vs. “Need Money ASAP”).
Here is an example of the email I wrote to one of my clients at work:
Subject: Follow-up on Pricing Discussions – Please reply by 12-20-2012
Dear Joe Doe,
I am writing to you to follow-up on our pricing information that we have presented last week during our visit.
First of all, I appreciate the time you took to meet with us and to discuss current and new business opportunities. Based on our discussion we had last week, I would like to present to you our updated pricing information:
|With Supply Agreement|| |
|W/out Supply Agreement|| |
We are confident we can help you create a plan to get your new business off the ground. Working with The Company would be an effective way to do that because The Company provides the four things you need most at this point in your business:
- A plan – together we will create a production plan that is tailored to your needs and would provide confidence in delivery schedules.
- Accountability – We will keep you on track with our phone calls and visits (since we are close to each other) so your production doesn’t get put on the back burner.
- Quality and Assurance – The Company will continue delivering good quality Product XYZ based on years of experience in our production.
- Peace in mind – Using multi-sourcing will keep your process up and will protect you from supply failures and safeguard against supply uncertainties by having several alternative suppliers.
I’ll call you next week to continue the conversation but in the meantime, please reply to my email and let me know by this Friday, 12-20-2012 whether presented pricing is acceptable and when should we expect a Purchase Order from you.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Well, good luck in your business writing. Comments are appreciated!