Top Tips for Writing Effective Business Emails

Written by Steve Bridger

Top Tips for Writing Effective Business Emails

1.    Give as full a description as possible in ‘Subject’ section to state the purpose of the email and identify you as the sender of the email.

2.    Think about the person/s you’re sending to.  It’s easy to get so engrossed in writing the email content that you could overlook something which is inappropriate to someone on the address list.

3.    Don’t automatically click the ‘Reply All’ button – if you’ve received a response to an email it may be for your eyes only.

4.    If your email is the first time you’re contacting someone, adopt a traditional ‘letter’ text approach.  A formal approach shows respect.  A more informal style can follow for further exchanges.

5.    In case the recipient wants to print out your email to be filed, it can help to repeat to reinforce the email subject at the top of the message space along with the date of sending.  People are now asked to think about the environment before printing emails.

6.    Emails should be seen as confidential and private.  A legal note should be included to that effect along with a request to delete any email that has been wrongly received – (see email example below)

7.    Emails are read quickly – so get to the point swiftly and include any request for action in the first paragraph.  Use simple, clear language and a size of type that is easy to read.

8.    One subject for one email.  Avoid running different subjects together.  Separating subjects helps understanding in this fast moving environment.  New email, new subject heading.

9.    Some message systems show the first line of the text onscreen before it is opened. Make sure what you write is appropriate for your business.

10.Think about the problem of repeatedly replying to a received     email, adding new text to an original message. The original title     may no longer reflect the evolving message content and unless     you begin a fresh email the length will mean printing pages of     paper when you only want the latest exchange.
11.Use emails as a ‘cover’ note to any important or confidential     attachment. Emails are not suitable vehicles for transmitting     important company information or to detail reports or proposals.

Example of Business Email Layout and Text

To:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
cc:   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Subject:    Guy Gizmo –  Widget & Gizmo Meeting Confirmation

Email Body Text

12th November 2009
Confirmation of Widget & Gizmo Alliance Meeting
9.30am-12.00pm 14th December 2009.

Dear Barnaby,

A quick note to confirm our meeting at your offices on Monday 14th December at 9.30 am.
I will be accompanied by Peter P Nocchio -Head of our Wooden Toys Division.

We look forward to discussing our future plans.

Best regards
Guy Gizmo
Guy Gizmo
Business Development Manager – Universal Gizmos
Telephone: 0800 247 247  Mobile/Cell: 07084 127 234 Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

? Please consider the environment before printing this email.
This e-mail may contain confidential and privileged information and is subject to copyright. If you are not the intended addressee please delete the message.  Please note that any distribution, copying or use of this information is prohibited.
If you have received this e-mail in error please inform us immediately by e-mail or telephone us on 0800 247 247 before completely deleting the message.

The ‘Poisoned Sandwich’ Email

Tom Evans, reminded me about this technique.   A poisoned sandwich email is where bad news is sandwiched between two good bits of news.  For example:

Hi! Julian,

We cannot thank you enough for helping the sales team to smash this month’s target.
Your probationary period in sales is now over and unfortunately your position is surplus to requirements with the resultant 30 days notice.
However, should a position in sales become available you will have the opportunity to apply along with other applicants next year.

Merry Christmas

Ebenezer Scringe
Head of Finance
Take the Money & Run Ltd

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