My Top 33 Email Tips (Part 1)
Posted by Todd Smith
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I’ve probably sent and received more than 500,000 emails over the last 10+ years. And combined with my focus on the little things that matter, I have formed some strong views on the subject. In this two-part lesson, you will learn 33 tips that will improve your email communication.
As you review the list, you may feel these are picky little details that don’t really matter. Don’t allow yourself to think this way. Everything matters! Today’s post will cover the first 16, and tomorrow’s will outline the remaining 17.
1. Take pride In your emails—As I pointed out in What’s Your Email Brand?, every email you send makes an impression and plays a small role in defining your brand. If email is your primary form of communication, what you say and how you say it will play a significant role in how you are viewed.
2. Write short paragraphs—Keep your paragraphs short. They will be easier to read and will improve the likelihood of them being read. I generally limit my paragraphs to two sentences.
3. Keep your sentences short—Shorter sentences are preferred in the online copywriting world. The reason is simple; they are easier to read.
4. Be careful what you forward—Everything you forward is a reflection of your personal brand. Don’t forward things unless you believe they will provide value, make someone smile, or enrich their lives.
5. Tell them why you are forwarding it—When you forward an article, email, or blog post, take an extra 15 seconds to explain why you are sending it. I hate guessing why someone sent me something.
6. Select an email address that identifies you—Select an email address that includes your first and last name. This will make it easier for people to identify you by your email and find your email address in their address book.
7. Respond to your emails—The number of people who don’t return emails in a timely manner is on the rise. Maybe it’s because they are overcommitted at work or perhaps they are struggling with balancing their career and family. Regardless of the reason, if you fall into that category, you will run the risk of destroying your reputation, losing your friends’ respect, and reducing your market value. Most people expect an email response within 24 hours. If you can’t always return all your emails within 24 hours, make those times the exception and not the norm.
8. Use “bcc” for multiple recipients—If you want to send an email to a large group of people, put your name in the “To” field and put everyone else’s in the “Bcc” field. This will allow you to keep your email addresses private and keep your email clean. It also prevents someone from pressing “reply all” and wasting everyone’s time with a response that should only be directed to you.
9. Select the right email provider—I strongly suggest that you get an email address from a national company and not one from your local utility company or cable service provider. If you have an email address tied to a local ISP or utility company, then if you move and/or change utility providers, you will likely lose your email address. Select long-standing, recognized companies with names that are easy to spell like Gmail or Yahoo!, and please, NO ads or jumping monkeys.
10. Be friendly—Your demeanor in your online communication should be similar to how you interact offline. If you value your relationships, take an extra 15 seconds to type something friendly at the beginning and/or at the end of the email. It could be simple one-liners, such as “I hope you had a relaxing weekend” or “Thanks for all you do.”
11. Be professional—If you want to be viewed as a professional, then make sure you present yourself as one.
12. Proof your emails—Never send an email without proofing it at least once. If it is important, then read it 2 or 3 times to make sure you are proud. Look for missing words and misspellings that aren’t necessarily picked up by the spell-check function.
13. Don’t use text lingo—These are emails, not text messages. Spell things out.
14. Use their name—People love to hear and see their names. Take an extra 2 seconds to type out people’s full name, rather than just the initial of their first name. I have a friend by the name of Mark who said he is turned off when people don’t put forth the effort to type three more characters after the “M.” How many other people feel like Mark? I also recommend including “Hi,” “Hey,” “Good morning,” or something else before their name.
15. Don’t limit your communication to email—Email is a great way to efficiently communicate, but don’t rely on it exclusively. Set a goal to talk to people at least one time for every 10 email exchanges. Relationships are best built in person, second by phone calls, and third by the written word. Take full advantage of the first two if you want the relationship to grow.
16. Return confirmation emails—When you schedule a call or appointment with someone and they confirm the time with you, take the extra five seconds to return the email to say “Confirmed.” People don’t like wondering if the appointment is firm.
Review all of your email communication at the end of the day today. How many of the 16 tips did you incorporate? How did you measure up? And don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for the remaining 17 email strategies.
Every email you send makes an impression; therefore, every email plays a role in defining your personal brand.
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