How many of these emails have you deleted this week? Maybe this one…
Hi John, I hope all is well. Wanted to reach out to you about the useless crap we are selling and that I really don’t care about but want to get my quota bonus so I can save up for the new iPhone 17.
So weak. On every level.
College writing courses don’t teach you how to write emails so people will read them. Nor do they give lessons on how to improve your email etiquette or show us the way great communicators use email.
Until we get those lessons on what sentences not to write in an email, here are four tips on how email pros get a reader’s attention–and keep it–before your reader banishes your email to the waste bin of dashed solicitation dreams.
Write Short and Sweet Email Subject Lines
If you want people to open–and read–your emails, make your subject lines pithy and precise. Email isn’t a mystery story with a big reveal at the end. It’s called a “subject line” for a reason. For intriguing subject lines, Marketo.com suggests choosing keywords, questions, or numbers to get a reader’s attention.
And keep subject lines short. If you write 50 characters or more, your email will end up in the spam folder, according to email marketing firm Emma.
Remove Weak Language: Take Action
Ever write “Hope this email finds you well…”? Well, I immediately delete those emails even if it’s from someone I know. Hope is for wussies. Sure, hope helped Obama get elected but he had a different platform with his book, The Audacity of Hope.
When people use phrases such as “I hope things get better,” or “I hope things are well” or “We hope (fill in the blank)”–the language is too passive. No action is associated with making the desired outcome happen. Unless you wrote a book about hope like Obama, cut the weak words out and get right to your message.
Make Your Email Personal: Use A First Name
Write the person’s first name in the email. If you ever write a cold email with a generic greeting like “Dear Customer,” you’re either lazy, spam, or both. You probably hate it when someone asks you for something and doesn’t use your name, so why are you doing the same thing to them?
If you want people to read past your first salutation, use their first name. Not only is your email less likely to be deleted, you’re more likely to get results. The 2013 Experian Email Market Survey has shown that personalized promotional emails have 29 percent higher open rates, 41 percent higher unique click rates, and produce transaction and revenues rates at six times higher than impersonal emails.
Customize Your Intro
Never start off with “Hi Mike,” or Hi Susie. Is this how you really talk? At the Santa Barbara speakers bureau BigSpeak, (full disclosure, my company), our staff has done a substantial amount of research and A/B testing over the last two years with email communication. We found the more authentic the tone and the more customized/sincere the introduction, the better the email was received and the higher the response rate.
Instead of writing “Hi Mike” in the intro, write “Mike, hello from rainy Seattle.” Start with the recipient’s first name. Get their attention right away and add some detail about you and where you are to get the person intrigued.
Want to take it up a notch? Add some more detail to really create the personal connection: Write “Susie, hello from rainy Seattle, envious of the 83° weather you’re having there in Los Angeles.”
Ken Sterling is the Executive Vice President at BigSpeak. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California and an MBA from Babson College. Ken teaches Entrepreneurship, Marketing, and Strategy at UC Santa Barbara. He is a serial entrepreneur, keynote speaker, business consultant, and sales & marketing expert.
This article was originally published on Inc.com