As a designer, I spend my life at a computer. And regardless of the client, one thing ties every project together: emails.
Emails are constant. They’re automated. They’re selling. They’re telling. They’re asking. And there seems to be no end in sight. And no matter how techie or advanced we get, the reality is that emails (for now) have come to stay as the main form of communication in the workplace. But when the average employee sends or receives over 120 emails per day, how can you make sure your email stands out?
Here are my tips on how to get noticed and email like a boss.
1. Are you doing well?
I’m sure you really don’t care if the person is “doing well” or “enjoying their Friday.” I know I usually don’t. But instead of being direct and personal, I often rely on these introductory crutches to get the conversation going. I’m guilty of this. You’re guilty of this. But if we all focus, we can cut the clutter together. Your introduction should match your relationship. If you’ve been emailing someone for a while (we’re talking months), it’s probably safe to move beyond, “How you doin?” (say it like Joey from Friends) to a more personalized approach. You should have by now picked up some tidbits of information that you can use in your emails. Know where they went to college? Great! Did their team win over the weekend? Mention it! Personalizations don’t have to be profound, but they do need to be purposeful. If this all sounds a bit saleman-y…that’s okay. Every email is an opportunity to create a selling point and build trust. You’re crafting a product with each email—and that product is you.
Your introduction should match your relationship. Personalizations don’t have to be profound, but they do need to be purposeful.
2. I think I can. I think I can.
I think I can, I think I can may be good for a children’s story on confidence, but it doesn’t help your case when writing an email. One time I went back and read a long email, only to find multiple uses of the word “think” littered throughout the text. On a cursory read, it may sound fine. However, when you slow down and re-read the email (and if it’s an important email it will get forwarded and shared multiple times), you’ll discover that too many “I thinks” leave the document sounding unconvincing. If you’re an authority on a topic, then own it. If blue is the best color to use based on your knowledge and experience, then tell the client straight up, “Blue is the best color for this.” They may ask you to explain your reasoning, but explaining your reasoning is never a bad thing. Writing, “I think blue…” however, immediately opens to the door to objection. And while we’re at it, let’s strike the word “just,” too. It’s often a filler word with no real purpose. The tighter the sentence, the stronger the read.
3. Some things are better left unsaid.
But not when it comes to emails. Not saying what you really mean can have huge implications when it comes to emailing. Why? Because emails are devoid of tone and context. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Do I need to explain this better?” you probably do. And this applies not only to the actual wording, but to the content itself. When writing emails—particularly to clients—there’s a good chance that the receiver has a cursory knowledge of what you do, but they may not have a full grasp when it comes to the nuances of your industry. Are you both using correct terminology? Are you both being literal in your specifics? As a web designer, I often have to clarify with clients their meaning of the word “website”. Are they referring to a landing page, a full website, e-commerce, an etsy store, a facebook page? I’ve found that clarity and correction can go hand-in-hand at helping to educate clients and make sure we’re all on the same page.
In three steps, you could be on your way to better emails. However, the real reward is not in the communication itself, but in the payoff. Better communication leads to less back-and-forth, greater productivity, and an overall improved experience for both you and the client.