By Paula Chiocchi
Despite the popularity of social communication platforms like Facebook and Twitter, email still ranks high as the communication channel of choice for most consumers. Any small business owner can tell you that crafting emails is no easy task. The process involves time, creativity and skill, but it doesn't require a degree in rocket science.
We've put together these 10 guidelines that simplify the task and help you save time while writing more effective business emails.
How to Write a Better Business Email
1. Make It Mobile-Friendly
While people still predominately use desktop/laptop computers to access business-related email, mobile devices will usurp them soon. Accordingly, use responsive design and an approach that lets readers navigate email with one finger. Use plain backgrounds, larger fonts, and use call-to-action (CTA) buttons.
2. Don't Make Assumptions
Never assume that your audience knows everything about your company, products or industry, even if you've sent numerous emails to the addressee. Too many organizations assume that people know their brands, product names, industry jargon, or acronyms. Unless you're emailing a specific customer with a personalized email, make sure to tell your audience who you are and why you're reaching out.
3. Help Your Prospects and Customers
Prepare content that recognizes and addresses your audiences' interests, needs, and pain points. Use your company's subject-matter experts to provide knowledge or guidance to help customers do their jobs better. Direct your prospects to "how-to" articles, blogs, videos, etc. For current customers, provide tips and tricks, and highlight lesser-used product or service features they might have forgotten or overlooked.
4. Be Friendly
Remember that people are at the heart of your business. Use a friendly, conversational tone and write as if you were talking to a friend or colleague. Include your photo or bio, or those of the key people within your company—that adds the human factor and emotion to an email. However, for business email, don't be overly personable. Don't use shortcuts such as "ur" or creative words such as "kewl"—it's not considered professional.
5. Keep It Brief
Research firm, the Radicati Group, estimates that business professionals send and receive an estimated 122 emails per day—in addition to the messages they receive through social media, phone calls, and postal mail. When drafting your email, make sure you respect the addressee's time by making your point clear and concise.
6. Draw Them In
Your subject line may be the only part of your email anyone ever reads, and it's vital to catching the reader's interest. Keep it brief and place the most important words first, since the words at the end can get cut off from view in an email application. Be clear and specific, but make it compelling, motivating, or thought-provoking.
7. Be Different
Doing something different can cut through the daily email onslaught and garner attention. Even in B2B, don't be afraid to think outside the box or to use a sense of humor. Add personality or a clever insight that relates to your recipients' interests. At the same time, keep it clean—vulgar humor or offensive content will hurt your brand.
8. Tell Them Who You Are
Include an email signature with contact information. Out of habit, many readers often look for this information at the bottom of the message, even if it is already included in the body of the email. This also reminds them that you're a real person—with a phone number and email address—and it shows your role in the organization. Also, don't add too much content to your signature: one CTA is enough. Otherwise it's overkill.
9. Set the Stage
Clearly tell the reader what the next step is, and let them initiate it. Instead of "click here," be specific: write "get the top 10 proven solutions here" or "register now." Make these CTAs bold and easily accessible with larger font and attention-getting color.
10. Find a Proofreader
Everyone needs an editor or a proofreader, be sure to have another person look over your email before sending it. She or he might identify a grammar or spelling mistake you didn't see, or they might find an important idea you might have forgotten or left out. Too many mistakes—or even one simple one—might cause the recipient to put your message in the "unprofessional" category.
You don't have to be a genius to write an interesting small business email, but it does take time and effort. Follow the above guidelines, and you just might see more responses and better results.
Paula Chiocchi is the president and founder of Outward Media.
|Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!|