281 billion email messages are sent and received each day worldwide, according to statistica.com.
Think about your own email inbox for a moment. How many do you get a day? But more importantly, how many do you read and how many do you just delete?
Here are 5 things to think about when writing email messages
1 – Who is going to read it?
Think about what the reader wants to know rather than just what you want to tell them. Personalise the message. If you are messaging a group, then you have to try to appeal to all personality types.
Start with the most important information and leave the background info in the background. Some people will read every word of your mail others will skim. Make it easy for the skimmers to see the key message.
Think about reading a newspaper article. Journalists know they must grab your attention with a headline and get all the most important information in early. Don’t bury your key messages or leave the call to action to the end. Make them want to read more!
Avoid jargon unless you are completely sure that your audience will understand it. If in doubt, don’t.
2 – Why should they read it?
In an email consider the subject line carefully. This is your headline. Try to ‘hook’ the reader and reel them in with a catchy title. Using a subject line such as:
- A quick update
- Important info about our meeting tomorrow
- Save the date
These give the reader a reason to open them straight away. Remember though, your content must still be good and deliver what you promised in the subject.
3 – What do you want your audience to do?
What is your message? How do you want them to think or feel? What actions do you want them to take? Tell them the message, signpost the way you want them to feel and give them a call to action.
Use simple language. Plain English sounds more urgent and overly intricate or convoluted wording can be distracting! Write as you speak. It’s surprising how many words we use when we write that we would hardly ever say.
For your call to action use verbs (doing words) such as: ask, take, choose, click, visit, act now, etc. to encourage them to do what you want them to do.
Avoid redundant words. These just make sentences long and complicated and add nothing to the message. Try deleting them and see how much clearer your message sounds:
Also, it should be mentioned that many people
Anything over and above this
Until such time as
Make sure your message is clear. You might think it is obvious but is it apparent to the reader?
4 – How do you want to come across?
Let your writing reflect you and your brand. Speak the way you do when telling others about your company. If you are a serious business be serious but it’s ok to have a bit of fun.
Innocent smoothies were the first company to market themselves largely by using quirky language. Rebecca Nicholson, a journalist for the Guardian described it as ‘Wackaging’ or wacky packaging.
Here is an example, you can find more on their website www.innocentdrinks.co.uk
Not everyone is a fan. But if your customers actually want to read the small print on the packaging then maybe you are doing something right.
Or, what about this for simplicity
Another way to add personality is to mix up sentence lengths. Like this brilliant example.
“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.”― Gary Provost
5 – Keep it short and sweet
Once you have decided what you want to say, go back and think, could I edit it further?
Use headings to make it easy to navigate. Some people will scan and read just the parts that they are interested in. Headings, sub-headings, bullets and tables or grids can also help to break up the text while calling out key information at the same time. Pictures can also add interest to the message. A paragraph should only contain one subject, when you move on to another topic, start a new paragraph.
Leave plenty of white space. It will look easier to read if it spaced out generously.
If your message is too big to comfortably sit in an email, consider attaching it as a separate document or make a website landing page that the email message points readers to.
Check your spelling and grammar. It’s important that your reader isn’t distracted from the message by misspelt words or stray apostrophes. Also, by reading the text you should notice any sentences which are too lengthy.
Read your message out loud. This will help you see if you have missed words or see if you think something could be better worded. If you’re not sure if it sounds ok, ask for help. Ask someone to read it for you and get a different point of view. Start noticing what you like and dislike in the messages you read. And it’s ok to experiment.
And of course, if you really want to stand out from the crowd and not get lost in the email inbox, you could send a personal message in the post!
If you want some help communicating with your customers, get in touch.