Raise your hand if you write emails for your own enjoyment. None of us, right? It’s frustrating to feel like you talk in circles with clients or your updates aren’t read. It took me a few weeks to find an email format that worked for me. Once I nailed down a format, not only did I feel more organized myself, but I felt like my clients’ responses were more frequent and pointed.
Adding bolded text or due dates may seem like small changes, but improving the readability of your emails is a big deal. Here are some tactics that I experimented with. Go ahead and try a few yourself!
Brevity is your friend. Long emails are daunting and can lead clients to click “unread” and address at a later time… which could be a while. Take a few extra minutes to think through the “ask” in your email. The more you think through, the simpler you can make it for your reader.
Clear Subject Lines
This tip is two-fold. Labeling your emails clearly helps you find them later and cues your clients that it’s an important email. Including an action and a topic in a subject line, like “Due tomorrow: digital creative,” gives context and deadline.
Much like a news story, good emails have a strong lead. The inverted pyramid writing method is often used by journalists. It tells you to lead with the most important information and explain after. This gives your clients what is most important first, such as a due date, and ensures that they don’t miss it by burying it in the body of the email.
Include Due Dates
Deadlines create a sense of urgency, which usually means that things get done. When you list out tasks for clients, it’s important to include the date you need it by. This keeps both parties accountable.
Bullets, bolding and color-coding– oh my. All of these can differentiate certain words or phrases in your email, which is important when you’re trying to make a point or set a deadline. I usually put deadlines in a different color so they’re more eye-catching. Bolding can work the same way. Whenever you have more than one task or more than one question for a client, it’s best to bullet or number them out. This sets your ask apart from the rest of the email and is easiest for your client to transfer them to a to-do list.
Give them Space
Enable your clients to scan emails by including white space. Basically, you can’t send a wall of text and expect anyone to read it. After every few sentences, start a new paragraph. This is especially important for emails read on mobile, as 51 percent of all emails are.
Effective communication is much more than bullets white space. But these tactics are a step in the right direction! After all, more than 205 billion (with a “b”) emails are sent back and forth per day. Don’t let yours be ignored!