Posted on June 15, 2016

How to Write Effective Emails That Don’t Get Ignored

Are you tired of sending emails and getting no response? With the sheer volume of emails everyone receives these days, you have to do a little extra legwork to make sure your emails get the attention they deserve. So what’s the trick? Make your emails really easy to respond to. Here’s how:

Write a Question in the Subject Line

Let’s say you and your co-worker are curators of the Dinosaur Museum and you’re managing a new Velociraptor exhibit installation. You need to know if your co-worker ordered the exhibit plaques, and you need to know today.

This is a subject line you shouldn’t write: “Velociraptor exhibit plaques”.

This is a subject line that will get a fast respond: “Did you order the Velociraptor exhibit plaques? Let me know ASAP!!”

The first subject line doesn’t look urgent, so why open it? It’s simply too vague. The second subject line uses the question and begs an immediate response. Also, the co-worker knows right away that this email won’t take long to respond to; she’ll see this subject line and know she can rattle off a quick one-word response. Placing the question in the subject line saves everyone time and elicits faster replies.

Cut to the Chase

Do your emails tend to have a preamble? The average person receives dozens, if not hundreds, of emails each day. They don’t want to read a five-paragraph essay. When drafting an email, cut right to the chase. If the subject matter warrants any kind of introduction, keep it to a short paragraph of no more than two sentences.

People also respond poorly to long sentences on the computer. Keep your sentences short and to the point. This will make for easier reading. Long, flowery emails tend to get ignored.

Provide More Up-Front Information

Let’s say you want to meet up with a friend who’s coming into town for a few days.

You shoot them an email that asks: “Do you want to meet for coffee?”

You luck out the first time and get a quick response: “Sure, I’d love to. Where?”

You write back: “I know of a good place on 5th Street near Winston Station.”

Your friend replies: “What days are good for you?”

You reply: “I’m free on Mondays and Wednesdays, usually in the mornings.”

For whatever reason, your friend doesn’t respond right away. Meanwhile, your friend gets busy with other plans while in town and soon enough has to catch his or her flight home. You and your friend never manage to meet because the emails were indecisive and never resulted in solidified plans. This all could have been avoided through skillful email writing.

Here’s how you can meet up with your friend by only sending one email. Write something like: “I’d love to meet up! How does coffee sound? I’m free from 9 – 12 on Mondays and Wednesdays. I know a great place on 5th Street near Winston Station. Let me know if you can make it and which day works for you!”

This email will help you set plans with your friend because your friend will have to respond to the first email by choosing one of two possible time slots. You’ve cut out a lot of back and forth by defining plans from the get-go and narrowing options.

Be a Skillful Email Writer

Anyone can get a free email account and write an email, but not everyone is a skilled email writer. Put these tips into practice to get better email responses – faster.

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