When it comes to email, Microsoft Outlook has pretty much got it covered.
Sending, receiving, organising, and archiving messages is easy.
That’s the ‘admin’ side of email. There is much more to it than that, of course.
Every message and piece of communication we send should count. It should have a clear purpose – and be clear in what it says.
Despite all the tools and apps available, email remains a popular way for people in business to talk.
If you are a VA you might also be building an email list. And if you are using your list to stay in touch and market your services, your ability to write good emails is important. Here are 10 tips to improve your results.
Tip #1 – Use a Strong Subject Line
The subject line in your email is like the headline on a sales page. It’s what you use to grab the reader’s attention.
Putting news, an offer or curiosity in your subject line can improve your chances of your email being opened.
Keep the copy short and consider personalising it, using merge tags.
Tip #2 – Have a Clear Purpose
Each email you send should have a purpose behind it. If you’re only going to send one out ‘for the sake of it’ or to meet some kind of target for numbers sent, think again.
What is your email aiming to do? It could be to share some news, inform, entertain or provide an update. It should always be of value to the recipient. If you don’t know why you are about to send an email, don’t send it.
Tip #3 – Get to the Point
Early on in your message, you want to say why the person should keep reading. Tell them. Even if you are writing a longer email, it’s a good idea to give the reader a reason to continue to the end.
People tend to want to know “What’s in it for me?” – so make sure you tell them. And don’t leave it too late (otherwise they might not get to that part before moving onto the next item in their inbox).
Tip #4 – Add Variety to the Mix
If all your emails look and sound ‘the same’, it’s not going to be as interesting for your reader. Try some short messages. Try some longer messages. Test them out. See what your audience likes best.
Remember, the longer your email, the better your writing needs to be – to keep people reading on down the page or screen.
Tip #5 – Be Clear
The most important thing with any message is to be clear. Take a look at your email before you send it. Are you saying what you want to say succinctly?
Is there room for misinterpretation of the information, tone, invitation, request or call to action?
If you’re not sure, ask a trusted friend or colleague to take a look and give you feedback.
Tip #6 – Use Simple Words
It doesn’t matter whether you are writing to a CEO or a team leader. Stick to using simple words in your copy. It makes the message easier to read.
Avoid jargon and clichés. If you are going to use ‘technical’ terms, consider whether the recipient will understand them. If “Yes, easily”, you can keep them in. If not, you may need to explain a little more. Just to be clear.
Tip #7 – Use Shorter Sentences
This helps the reader to get through your mail and to understand what you are saying.
You can also use it to adjust the pacing of your message, especially if it is a longer email or a sales email.
Tip #8 – Use Story
When you share relevant stories, they can help people to know more about you, your values, your principles and the way you do business.
Great stories are memorable and allow the reader to take away what they want from the message. Remember the one about the Tortoise and the Hare?
Tip #9 – Be assertive with the Call to Action
This is for those emails where you require the recipient to do something or would like them to take a specific action. This could be from sending you some data to complete a task, to inviting the reader to book a call with you.
Make it clear what you want people to do. And give them every encouragement to do so. This is not the time to be vague or woolly. Be clear. Be straight. What do they need to do? And by when?
Tip #10 – Double Check BEFORE You hit ‘Send’
Finally, before you hit send just do one thing. Take another look at your email.
Does it say what you want it to say succinctly? Is the message clear? Are there any spelling errors? Have you used simple words and short sentences? Is your request, invitation or call to action clear?
Only when you’re happy with it should you hit ‘Send’.
Let me know how you get on with your emails.
P.S. Naturally, if you need some help with using Microsoft Outlook I have a couple of online training courses for you. One teaches you how to make Outlook your most obedient puppy. (And there’s a bespoke version for Mac users)
The other course covers email encryption in Outlook.