Nearly 250 billion emails are sent every day, according to the 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report
. That’s one email every 0.00000035 seconds.
Of course, you needn’t read statistics to understand email’s importance—you use it constantly to pitch reporters, apply for jobs, search for new business, and send mom a link to a new recipe.
If you can’t get people to respond to your messages, you’re probably doing something wrong—especially if your mother won’t read your emails.
Here are some tips on how to write the perfect email that gets the results you want.
The subject line
Arguably the most important component of the email, the subject line is the deciding factor in whether your message is read or deleted. Additionally, using a spam tagline or lots of characters such as $$$ (or in the U.K., £££) can send it straight to the junk box.
The subject line needs to be truthful and informative and tempt the reader into wanting to know more about the content. In that case, strive to retain an air of mystery, but remain truthful. If your email has nothing to do with the subject line, the receipt will have a bad impression of you.
The start of the email sets the tone for the main body. In the opening words the reader is making a judgement about you and what you want, and whether they will continue to read. Seeming too formal or impersonal, or, conversely, unprofessional, can cast a negative impression. If you know the person’s name, address him or her personally; if not, use “Hi” rather than “To whom it may concern.” The latter is stuffy and formal. In business—and especially in PR—you need to build relationships, so sounding friendly but professional is always a good approach.
The bit in the middle
Long, waffling emails are a massive turn off to anyone—especially to journalists who receive dozens or even hundreds of unsolicited emails a day. Even if the recipient opens your email, a page-long essay will probably inspire him or her to close out of it. No one has the time, or the interest, to read your life story. Keep your messages as short and concise as possible, and deliver information in a digestible way. Your purpose for writing needs to be clear and presented in a way that will appeal and relate to the recipient.
Assuming the recipient sticks with your email to the end, the way you sign off is as important as the way you start. End your email by making clear what you would like the reader to do, but don’t do it in a commanding way. Phrases such as “I look forward to hearing from you” or “Please let me know your thoughts” invite a response and make it clear you would like to hear from them. But they are also casual enough to not sound threatening. Sign off with “many thanks” or “kind regards” or something similar and your name, including your first name. Rapport building isn’t achieved with Mr. and Ms.
Additionally, when relevant, include your professional Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or Google+ accounts with your signature, especially when approaching someone who doesn’t know you. This way the person can have a better look at what you do, reinforcing your professionalism in his or her eyes.
Anna Pitts is a marketing assistant and online researcher at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau. Her work involves PR, outreach, and writing articles for graduates and students.