Whether you're courting a new client, applying for a coveted position, or batch-emailing to prospects, you're trying to present yourself as personable and professional.
The problem? So is everyone else.
Email campaign open rates tend to vary by industry but generally hover between 15-25%, according to MailChimp's email marketing benchmarks. If you want your emails to get the attention that they deserve, then they need to be a little more compelling and readable than everything else in your target's inbox.
There are a few common mistakes that people tend to make when putting together a professional email. The good news? Most of those issues can be avoided by following these five simple guidelines:
Keep it simple. Avoid loading up your emails with too many buzzwords or too much technical jargon. Generally, when you're sending an email to someone, you are trying to make a genuine connection. The best way to do that is to write like a person, not a robot or a textbook! Use a conversational tone and simple phrasing, rather than throwing around terms like “synergizing” and “innovationeering”. Those $20 words can sound great in your head, but they don't really make you sound smarter – they can often have the opposite effect, especially if the buzzwords don't really have a clear meaning. Say what you mean, and say it plainly.
Keep it short. Keep your emails as short and snappy as you can. The longer your email gets, the less likely it is to be read in its entirety. Over 205 billion emails are sent per day and the majority of those are business emails. No one has time to read a 900-word email! Pare it down to the basics. This goes for subject lines as well – you're more likely to snag a higher open rate with a 1-4 word subject line than with a novel-length one.
Keep it clean. An email that uses four different typefaces, three font sizes, underlines, italics, and bolded words can be exhausting to look at! Text-only emails should be kept to one typeface. If you want to emphasize certain portions of the email, you can choose to bold, italicize, or colour those words – but be consistent! Avoid using underlines in some places and bolded text in others. If you're using graphics in your emails, stick to a maximum of three typefaces – one for the headings, one for the body, and one for the call-outs featured in your images.
Keep it strong. Since you're trying to keep your emails concise, you need to bring your A game and make every word count. Be direct. Focus on the value that you offer to your audience – why should they care about your product? Don't ramble on about every single aspect of your offering. Instead, choose the key points most relevant to the person you're speaking to. Use the active voice instead of the passive voice, and make sure to include a highly-visible call-to-action or a question in order to increase engagement.
Keep it polished. Spelling and grammar are important. If you want to make a good impression, make sure that your emails are proofread before sending. If you're not a strong speller, that's okay – there are a ton of resources out there to help you! My personal favourite writing resource is Grammarly, but even using the built-in spellcheck functions in Word or OpenOffice can help you smooth out a rough email into a gem.
Hope these tips help you take your professional email game to the next level! Do you have a go-to online spelling and grammar resource?