How To Send a Really Good Email (and get a positive response!)
Whether in my day job or when working on my blog, I really do spend a bit of time working on emails. And whether we like it or not, emails are here to stay. They've become one of the easiest ways to reach people for collaborations, or information. Business people, bloggers and creatives will find themselves constantly using emails. And whether we receive the information that we require or the collaboration - depends to large extent on how our emails are crafted.
I don't necessarily think I send the best emails. But I think they're good enough and my response rate is actually quite amazing (if I do say so myself!). Recently, I emailed someone to ask to be featured on the Nine people, One question column. The response I got back was super flattering that I just have to quote it. "Hello Kachi. Thank you for your excellent email. I have never seen a more articulate email in my entire life. I would be more than happy to be part of your column". Obviously I took it as a bit of flattery, but it warmed my insides and the sender insisted that it was no flattery!
On the other hand, some emails I receive get deleted either without being opened or shortly after I've read the first few lines. Others I read to the end, but totally unsure of what is being asked or conveyed in the email.
These are my thoughts & I hope they're helpful!
Before sending the email:
Consider the purpose of the email
Seems pretty obvious, but you'd be surprised that some emails fail to clearly state the purpose or deliverable. So think this through in your head first, and be sure it's clear. Summarise it in one sentence.
Find the recipient's email address
It'll be a shame to spend ages drafting an email and then, you realise you haven't got an email address. These days many people have some sort of email on their blogs, LinkedIn, or social media account. For bloggers, and businesses stating the email address clearly is often better than a contact form - so fix this if necessary.
If the email address isn't publicly available, it's okay to send a direct message on social media asking for the best way to reach such person by email.
Because we live in such a fast paced world involving 140 characters or less, emails suffer and often get treated very shoddily. The reality however is that a good email takes time to draft. So don't think it's something to be done lightly. I typically spend 15 mins on an email - many times up to half an hour!
The Email Itself
Subject lines are super important! And in many cases could make or mar an email. I know they're not the easiest things to think up. But remember that one-line summary you came up with before drafting the email, that should usually be sufficient. The recipient should then have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the body of the email.
Cc / Bcc
If sending a general email to more than one person, who do not know each other (or need not necessarily know the other is being emailed as well) please use the Bcc option. This means blind copy and ensures that each recipient is not aware that it is being sent to others. Much more importantly it protects each recipients' email address. I really do cringe when I see that I have received an email with multiple persons and all email addresses are visible in the To or Cc section.
The three parts- Introduction, Body & Conclusion
Yes, we still need these and they should be clearly paragraphed as well.
The introduction will depend on the situation, and whether or not you're familiar with the person. For me, I often open with a greeting and say a bit of myself in about two lines. Much more importantly, I try to put in some good words about the recipient. People often love to see themselves in the positive and it makes them eager to read in more detail.
A brief introduction could be "Hi A, Hope you're well. Thank you again for providing your email address via Twitter. I'm Kachee, a lifestyle blogger at KacheeTee.com and I recently stumbled upon your writings on your blog. I must say I particularly loved your piece about your recent road trip across Nigeria - so inspiring". Please don't feel like you have to lie to say something about the recipient. It's not that necessary.
The body of the email
Here's your chance to pitch. It should be clear and possibly concise. These may be split into paragraphs. Make sure your recipient has all the necessary details and background information they'll need. Be clear on timings and deadlines. Feel free to emphasise these details using the bold italics or underline feature. Avoid caps as it often comes across as shouting. Use numbered lists or bullets if possible as these are sometimes easier to skim.
This should include action and/or follow up steps, as well as an appreciation and a reminder that you're happy to answer any questions. Sign off wishes are great and it's advisable to include a proper signature.
Before you hit the send button, don't forget to do a proof read for typos.
Ensure that you've spelled the recipients' name correctly and any dates, times, addresses, web links you've included are correct. If possible, don't use attachments except where absolutely necessary. Many people read emails on mobile devices and may be difficult to access such attachments. Plus sometimes, attachments can carry viruses and people may be reluctant to open them.
In few seconds consider the possibility that the contents of your email is shared online. Would the contents embarrass you?
Have you overused exclamation marks or come across as too friendly using abbreviations and excessive LOLs?
Well, what else is there to do? Just sit and wait for a reply? Sort of but not quite. First, be sure it's delivered. You'll typically receive a failure notice if it hadn't, so best to look out for that.
Most people will generally reply to their emails and get back to you in good time. But sometimes we really just forget. Don't follow up within 48 hours except its really urgent. But I really do advise following up after a while. It's the simple reason I get some of my emails responded to. And a lack of follow up is the reason why I haven't replied some emails - despite my best intentions to do so.
Oh and one more thing. It's really helpful if your email address is somewhat decent as the recipient sees this immediately. I know many of us opened our first email using supposedly cool words or phrases. It's kind of time to upgrade.
In summary, the truth is some people get excellent replies and collaborations even when they send shoddy emails. And such people argue that some of these are unnecessary. But why take the risk of wondering if you didn't get a reply just because you couldn't spare 15 minutes to type up a decent email.
So there we have it! Let me know if this was helpful. And if you have any questions, I'll answer in the comments. Please use the share buttons if you found this helpful as well, so others may benefit.
What's your email pet peeve? And what part of sending emails do you struggle with? Let's hear!