Alright, picture this. You’re sitting at your desk. Your hands hover unmoving over your keyboard. You’re composing an email, but you can’t seem to get past the subject line, and all that’s staring back at you is a big, empty white box.
Hey, don’t sweat it, friend. We’ve all been there.
You’ve got an important email to send, but you’ve got a problem. You have no idea how to break the ice. Whether you’re emailing a prospective employer, reconnecting with an old friend, or reaching out to a potential client, getting those first few sentences up off the ground can be difficult.
And no pressure, but did you know that you’ve got approximately 8 seconds to make a good impression? No joke. A new study out of Microsoft discovered that the average attention span has been dropping since the year 2000, likely as a result of the ever-increasing amount of technology we integrate into our lives.
So, how do you ensure that your email stands out from the rest? We’ve got 5 writing hacks that are guaranteed to elevate your email skills to the next level.
1. Names and Subject Lines
People are fundamentally self-interested. This most especially holds true when we’re scrolling through our email inboxes.
But come on, we kind of have to be, don’t we? In a world where we’re constantly barraged by ads, sales, promotions, and various other forms of subtle and not so subtle marketing ploys, we have to be vigilant about where our attention goes. What gets opened and read versus what gets deleted without a second glance is a decision that’s made with lightning quick resolve.
The bottom line? You need to catch someone before they hit that delete button. And that means you’ve gotta get crafty with your subject lines.
Nothing grabs a person’s attention more than seeing their name in a subject line. An instant connection is made, an instant sense of familiarity, an instant pique of interest.
Include the name of the person you’re addressing in the subject line and the chances of your email being opened and read will skyrocket.
2. A Unique, Creative Salutation
Okay, so you’ve pulled them in with a cleverly crafted subject line. But your work has only just begun, friend!
Next, let’s tackle the salutation. Your initial greeting. Your opening act.
Sure, you could go with the tried and tested “Dear Mr./Mrs. So and So,” but let’s face it, that is one heck of a worn out salutation.
Get things off to a good start with something creative, witty, unique, and personable. You’re a human being, not a robot! Show some personality!
Context is everything, so choose your words carefully. What you might say to a prospective employer is quite different from what you’d say to a close friend. But here are some examples to get your creative juices pumping:
- “Hi, …!”
- “Good morning / afternoon, …”
- “Hey there, ...”
And please, for goodness’ sake, do not use the atrocious, “To Whom It May Concern.” If you don’t know who your email should concern, stop writing, and find out!
3. Get Bold
A little rich text formatting never did anyone any harm, so don’t be afraid to get bold!
When we converse, our natural vocal inflections help us emphasize different words to get our point across. We don’t speak in a monotone. And that’s not how the brain interprets written text, either.
So, don’t be afraid to bold and italicize different words or phrases to help get your point across. Not only does it help communicate natural speech inflections, it also breaks up the monotony of black and white blocks of text on a page.
Just don’t go overboard. When used sparingly, rich text formatting can help you communicate effectively and efficiently. If used in excess, your email will sail irretrievably into the realms of unprofessionalism.
4. Get Personal
Who are you addressing? If you haven’t personally met the individual you’re about to fire an email off to, you’re going to have to do your homework. The internet is an incredible tool, so use it to your advantage.
Find out a little bit of information about who you’re speaking to. Tailor your email so that they know it was crafted just for them. None of that cookie-cutter nonsense. Take the time to specifically address the concerns and interests of the person you’re communicating with. It lets them know that you’ve gone the extra mile and taken the time to create something especially for them. A big deal in today’s non-stop exchange of generated templates and mass-marketed ad campaigns.
And speaking of taking the time…
5. Get To The Point
Everyone’s time is valuable. And if someone is going to invest their valuable time in reading and responding to your email, you need to make it worth their while.
And that means: keep it brief. To the point. Efficient. Succinct.
Tailor your thoughts so that your main query or concern is up front and center, in the opening paragraph of your email. No beating around the bush. Know your point, and stick to it.
If your recipient opens your email to be greeting by an impenetrable wall of text, their hand is going to twitch toward that delete button. Keep it concise. Keep it brief. Say what you need to say, and then sign off.
What Are You Waiting For? Get Writing!
Ready to implement these 5 writing hacks to spruce up your outgoing emails? Let us know which of these email hacks you’ve used before, and which you’re curious to try.