Last week I got email and I was appalled by the way it was “addressed”. The greeting was not “Dear Mrs. Ellett” or even “Good Morning Anita”, but just “Hey, ”.
I was seriously considering phoning the young man who sent the email to me to teach him some manners. But then I had a second thought. Is it me or him? Is he really ignorant or am I just an old fashioned girl – after all I am 50 now!
Email continues to be the most common form of business and personal communication, used for many reasons – announcements; introductions; follow ups; and congratulations to name a few, and it got me thinking about what’s “right” or “wrong” when it comes to writing emails.
Every email has a structure, which starts with the greeting.
1…. So what should your greeting be? When emails first arrived they were addressed in the same way as written letters. Email was a new service that had not yet built up its own lore or idiosyncrasies. As such, it was treated as the straight-up, newer, shinier version of real-life mail. But these days, starting an email with “Dear”, is considered a too stiff and formal way to address your recipient. Besides, no one uses “Dear” in real life – unless you are English (like my Simon). These days, Hi is considered the number one choice for all professional emails. Hey maybe used by younger people and it gets attention and has a sense of urgency, but it can appear too “shouty”. My personal favorite is Hello, which is more common in the UK than here in the US, but I like that it has a balance of warmth and professionalism.
So you now have the greeting. What’s next?
2 …a strong subject line AND opening line
Think about how you are going to capture your reader’s attention. Why should they take the time to read your missive? The subject line will be he first thing they see – so make it stand out. Pique their curiosity, ask them a question.
Your opening sentence needs to establish relevance and give your recipient a reason to continue reading. It’s always good to make the first sentence about them – everyone likes to read our hear about themselves. However, if you’re struggling with an opening sentence, don’t stress. Continue with your email and go back to it later.
3… explain your reasons for reaching out.
Now that you’ve captured their interest and genuinely complimented them, it’s time to let them know why you’re sending the email. What you write here will obviously change depending on the reason for sending the email, but examples could be “I’ve been really impressed by the job you have done at Big Inc. building the sales team and developing the wholesale channel, I’m currently exploring a career in sales and would love to buy you lunch so I can learn more about it from an expert.”
The key is making your explanation as relevant to your recipient as possible. You want them to feel special.
There is a principle that you should use before you ask someone for something. It’s called the principle of reciprocity, and it revolves around the fact that people receiving value generally want to return the favor. Things you might try are:-
Recommending an article they might find helpful
Suggesting a useful app or tool
Offering to introduce them to someone who they’d benefit from knowing
The Call To Action is the real purpose of the email, and it’s here that you make the request for whatever it is that you want. Try and strike a balance between being confident and being polite, but do make the “ask” as easy to fulfill as possible for the reader. If you’re looking to set up a meeting give them the option of 2 different times – or a connection to your Calendly
Finally, don’t forget to say thank you. Gratitude costs nothing, but can reap great rewards. However, not all “Thanks” are created equal. A recent study by Boomerang showed that signing off with the phrase “Thank you in advance” had the highest response rate. If you’re interested here are all of response rates for the phrases tested.
- “Thanks in advance” had a response rate of 65.7%
- “Thanks” had a response rate of 63%
- “Thank you” had a response rate of 57.9%
- “Cheers” had a response rate of 54.4%
- “Kind regards” had a response rate of 53.9%
- “Regards” had a response rate of 53.5%
- “Best regards” had a response rate of 52.9%
- “Best” had a response rate of 51.2%
The average response rate for all the emails in their sample was 47.5%.
So, the bottom line is (quite literally), if you want a response to your email, you might want to think about including a bit of gratitude.
Thanks for reading!