Crafting an effective business email has become something of a lost art. More and more professionals are receiving correspondences with impersonal or no salutations, misspellings, lack of structure, and unclear content. These poorly written emails may reflect badly on the sender or even discourage someone from doing business with them.
That's why it's so important to pay attention to etiquette and best practices when communicating with business contacts, colleagues, and employees via email. Below, a group of business leaders shared their tips for writing the perfect business email and why each tip is so effective.
Use a clear and relevant subject line.
You may have the best email in the world, but if your subject line falls flat, it will likely never get opened. That's why the subject line of your email is so important.
"Avoid vague or generic subject lines and make sure it's clear what you're discussing," says Kalin Kassabov, founder and CEO of ProTexting. "If it's a message to someone you don't know well, you might mention the context, such as 'Re: Our Conversation at the XYZ Virtual Conference.'"
Keep it short.
With so many emails coming into your inbox, you likely wouldn't enjoy reading a long, multi-paragraph email -- and neither would the person you're emailing, says Kelsey Raymond, co-founder and president of Influence & Co.
"If you catch yourself writing upwards of four paragraphs in an email, ask if it would be better as a phone call," Raymond says.
Tell them why.
Most emails are about getting someone to take a specific action after they read it. Whether you're asking a co-worker for something or pitching your services to a prospect, tell them why you're making the request.
"For example, 'Hey Clara, could you please go through that spreadsheet to help our pitch to Company A,' or 'Hi Mark, our services would increase leads to your sales funnel. If you're interested, let's talk,'" says Samuel Thimothy, co-founder of OneIMS. "If you can sell what's in it for them, you influence them."
Add a call to action.
In addition to explaining the reason behind your email, make sure to add a call to action (CTA) at the end, says Stephanie Wells, co-founder and CTO of Formidable Forms.
"Adding a CTA gives your subscribers somewhere else to navigate to so they can continue engaging with your brand outside of their inbox," notes Wells. "Linking to your website will drive targeted traffic there and move customers through the sales funnel so you can boost your conversions."
Be friendly and upbeat.
It's often difficult to interpret a person's tone and emotion via text-based mediums, so Matt Wilson, co-founder of Under30Experiences, recommends being extra friendly and upbeat to disarm any potential misunderstanding.
"Be very direct in the contents of your email, but if you start and end with extra enthusiasm or exclamations, this can help someone interpret the tone of the email as more positive," Wilson says. "When people are tired or lazy, they forget that email often does not come off well and run into trouble."
Personalize it and make it relevant.
Nicole Munoz, founder and CEO of Nicole Munoz Consulting, advises professionals to include personalization and social proof in their business emails.
"People want to know that there is a good reason to read the email and that their time is being well-spent," Munoz explains. "To show that, make sure that the email is relevant to them."
Test out different subject lines and copy.
When Reuben Yonatan, founder of SaasList, and his team were sending out emails pitching guest posts, they learned how to craft the perfect email pitch by testing out different elements and tracking the results.
"We noticed, for example, that when we gave two options for a title, we got higher engagement," says Yonatan. "Some trial and error, along with analysis and adjustments, will help you craft a perfect business email for your purpose."
Draft first, then add the recipient's email.
The only thing worse than a badly written email? A half-written email that has been inadvertently sent before it's completed. To avoid this mishap, Diana Goodwin, founder and CEO of MarketBox, always writes the body and subject line of the email first, then adds the recipient's email in as the last step.
"Even when I'm in a rush, the email always goes last to avoid any accidental or premature sending of emails," says Goodwin. "Having 'undo send' turned on in Gmail is also a lifesaver."