It's something we've all likely experienced. And, there's no denying that having your emails completely ignored and disregarded is frustrating at best.
While your first reaction is likely to think of the recipient as irresponsible and inconsiderate, have you stopped to think about whether or not you're doing anything to contribute to the problem? If you're committing one of these six common mistakes, you could be adding fuel to that unresponsive fire.
1. You aren't making it clear that you expect a response.
People aren't mind readers. So, while you might think it's obvious that you expect a prompt response to your message, give that email of yours one more read. Did you make your expectations clear to the recipient?
Let's face it -- email chains have to end somewhere, and not every single message actually requires a reply. So, you need to conclude your email with a direct question or a call to action to make it crystal clear that your recipient needs to do something with your email other than simply read it.
Just that one small change is sure to have a positive impact on your response rate.
2. Your call to action is too vague.
So, now you know you need a call to action at the end of your emails. But, that's only half the equation -- you'll also want to ensure that your call to action is specific.
Concluding your message with something like "Let me know what you think!" or "Thoughts?" is far too vague and ambiguous. Instead, using a question like, "Can you give me your notes and opinions on section two of this report?" makes your request for action that much more explicit -- and that much more likely to be responded to.
Think of this as the golden rule of email: The easier you can make things for your recipient, the better results you'll see.
3. Your subject line is all wrong.
It's possible that your email might not just be ignored -- it might never actually be opened. Why? Well, your subject line isn't helping things.
The entire concept of a subject line seems relatively simple and straightforward. Yet, so many people fail to abide by the basic rule that your subject should clearly illustrate what your entire email is about.
That means no generic phrases like "Checking In" or -- even worse -- the dreaded "No Subject". Use that space to jot down a few words about the content of your email, and both your and your recipient's lives will be a whole lot easier.
4. Your message is too difficult to read.
Have you ever clicked open an email only to be overwhelmed by a giant wall of text that seems like it will take you hours to wade through? Chances are, you quickly closed out that window and told yourself you'd tackle that mess later.
Here's where that email golden rule comes back into play: You need to make your message as easy to read as possible. That means keeping things short and succinct, using bullet points, and even bolding text that deserves extra attention (although -- fair warning -- use this tactic sparingly).
Remember, if your message requires pages and pages of text and numerous attachments in order to get your point across, you might be better off just picking up the phone or holding a meeting.
5. You're not emailing the right person.
Successful communication is all about knowing your audience. And, no, I don't mean that you're quite literally typing the completely wrong address in the "to" field. Instead, you just might not be sending your message to the person who's best suited to actually answer you.
Take a minute to ask yourself why you chose this particular person to email. Is it because he's truly the best person for the job? Or is it for another reason entirely -- such as he's the only person you know in that department or he was the first one to pop up in your address book?
If you fall into that latter category? It's time to reconsider who you put in that recipient field.
6. Your entire email is self-centered.
As sad as it may seem, we all operate with a "What's in it for me?" sort of attitude. So, if your email is far too self-centered -- meaning it's littered with first-person personal pronouns and focused solely on why you need this done -- you might be turning your recipient off.
You're contacting this specific person for a reason. Make that clear by detailing what role he or she is playing in this exchange. What can your recipient expect to get out of it?
Whether it's helping to complete a project or the opportunity to build a new relationship, making the end game and benefits clear will encourage people to actually respond to you.
Having your emails ignored is frustrated and discouraging. But, when it comes to getting responses, you could be your own worst enemy. Stop making these six common mistakes, and you're sure to see results!