Even as we move towards more real-time communication methods (for example, all-in-one messaging and meeting platforms like Microsoft Teams), email continues to serve as business support. It is often a means of disseminating critical internal information, an indispensable tool for wooing external stakeholders and a still powerful marketing support.
The problem? We receive so many emails that the vast majority are neither opened nor read. Statistical reports that in 2021, 320 billion emails were sent and received worldwide. Only us open about 18% of these – partly because we’re inundated, but also because the emails that matter don’t capture our attention.
- Create a subject line that follows the formula “SVAN”: Sspecific, Value and Aaction-oriented, NOTbased on numbers. Here’s why: Generic subject lines tend to look like bulk submissions, which quickly end up in the trash. Specific subject lines tailored to the reader / recipient are highly relevant, while action-oriented language pushes the reader to do the right thing. Value is also essential – you want to demonstrate why someone should act. Finally, add a few numbers (if they are appropriate) as they grab people’s attention.
- Bad example: “The article we talked about”
- Good example: “Read this 2 min crypto article by Elon Musk and get exclusive tips on investing”
- Use lists in the body of the email to make it easily scannable. You only need a few introductory sentences to get started – if you have to add a bunch of basic information, you’ll lose your reader. You can link to more details, but get right into the bullet point breakdown of the main points of the emails. Also consider bolding key words / phrases for easy overview.
- Use parallelism. It’s a trick that keeps the message in the reader’s mind. Essentially, use the same syntax / formula for every bullet point in your email so that it flows easily. If you start a bullet with an action verb, start each bullet with an action verb. If you bold the first sentence of a bullet, bold the first sentence of each bullet. You got the idea.
- Wash the laundry. Store shirts, pants, towels and socks in the hallway closet.
- Wash the dishes. Clean knives, glasses and fine china by hand.
- End with a summary or clearly identified actions. Think of this as your TL; DR. Be brief and list the action items as needed, no more than one sentence each.
In summary: Drive action and provide value in the subject line, use lists for easy analysis, keep the syntax parallel, and offer a summary / key takeaways. (See what I did there?)