Writing good emails is an art. However, we do have certain guidelines that you can try adopting, in your path to becoming a master email artist.
It is always a good practice to think about all the points you wish to address in your email before you draft the email. Let’s look at some questions that can help guide your thinking.
● What is the objective of this email?
● Who all needs to receive the email?
● Is there an action I’d like the receiver to take?
● What all information will the reader need in order to take an action?
● Are there any attachments to be shared?
Once you think through the contents of your email, you should add in a short, meaningful subject line that describes what your email is about. 6 to 8 words is a good length.
Now let’s look at few points you need to remember while drafting your email.
Pretty much the way you’d begin your conversation with someone offline, you begin your email conversation with a greeting such Hello Mrs.Linda, Dear Professor Gerald or Respected Ms. Smith.
Here’s there’s one rule - Do not surprise your reader. Introduce yourself and tell them how you got to know about them or where you received their email from.
It is always a good practice to convey why you are writing the email in the first two lines of your email. This helps the reader to quickly understand the purpose of your email and save time as well.
Conversely, forcing them to read through the entire email and making it hard for them to even understand what your email is about could be a bad use of their time. This would be in direct violation of our ‘Respect your Reader’s time’ rule.
If your reader requires additional context or information to understand what your email is about, take time to give all those details. For instance, let’s say you got selected to attend a conference but you have your exams on those same days. You want to know if your selection can be deferred to next year because you are not able to attend this time.
When writing to the conference team about your case, you should ensure that you provide them with sufficient context about why you are unable to attend this conference. Also note to provide information about your ID number, full name and other details so that they don’t have to go searching for it.
Instead of providing these details, if you just end up asking them, “Hey can I defer my spot for next year?”, the team would be utterly confused about the email.
Always remember that your job is to make things easier for your reader.
Imagine receiving an email with just plain information and no suggested call to action. In our earlier example, if you send an email to the scholarship team about your exams coming in, and just ask them “What should I do?”, what you;re doing is asking them to make a decision for you.
‘What you should do’ is a choice you make - You my decide to skip the exam and attend the conference or vice versa. Let’s say you decided to skip the conference and take the exam instead. What you want to know is if there is any possibility for you to attend the conference next year based on this year’s selection.
So what you really should be writing in is “I’d have loved to attend the conference but unfortunately my exams have come in between. I cannot afford to miss my exams. So unfortunately, I may not be able to attend the conference this year. Is there a possibility that I can defer my selection this time and attend the conference next year instead?”
Always have a proper closing to your email. Thanking the reader is a good idea, any day! If you are anticipating a response, you may write that you look forward to receiving a response.
Or you might just send across your regards. But whatever you choose to do, add in a proper closing.
So maybe the person you wrote an email to did not respond to you. What you should do now is follow-up with them by sending them a follow-up email.
When do you send your follow-up email? Or how long should you wait for a response before sending a follow-up email? Allow your reader at least 1-2 weeks to get back to you. That’s a good time for someone to write back to you and if you don’t hear within 1-2 weeks, you can send in your follow-up email.
When you follow up on a conversation you have already had, ensure that you send the follow up email to the same old conversation thread. What this does is bring up this conversation to the top of your reader’s inbox and also provide additional context about your conversation and that you had reached out earlier.
This is not the only scenario where you follow-up. Maybe you had a great meeting with someone. You could follow-up with thanks and regards within 24 hours of the meeting.
Or maybe you are just catching up with an old connection. You can send across a follow-up email 3 months after your last interaction.
To know more about writing follow-up emails, checkout this resource by Hubspot: On Follow up emails