Business communication relies heavily on email. Whether you're reaching out to potential new customers, starting a conversation with current customers, or contacting other businesses or associates, a successful business generates a lot of email. Like so many other technological improvements in the business world, if you want to make the most of it, you need to know how to do it correctly.
This isn't a technical post. It's probably safe to assume that you all know how to use the best features of your current email server. Sending a better email means going beyond the special effects and communicating in a way that makes people want to respond.
Start with a great header. Tell people why you're contacting them, and entice them to read what you've written (as opposed to sending it straight to the trash folder). Be descriptive and creative, but don't get so creative that people can't figure out what you're writing them about.
Use their name. If you want a response, don't send out a mass email with a generic greeting. Show that you care enough to individually contact each recipient, even if it is an email that your sending to several other people as well. That personal touch matters.
Keep your email brief and to the point. Address the reason you're contacting them specifically first. Why are you emailing them, and not someone else? Be specific. Just like using their name, this tells the reader that you're interested in them instead of being interested in a large group of people that they just happen to be a part of.
Be clear about what you want. Why are you emailing them? Do you want to offer a guest post for their blog (or ask them to write a post for your own blog)? Do you want to offer them a service, or are you looking for advice and feedback? Don't beat around the bush. People would rather know what you want than try to read between the lines and figure out what you're after for themselves.
End on a positive note. Thank them for their time and consideration. Include an invitation for a response ('I hope to hear from you soon', 'I look forward to your thoughts on this matter', or similar). Concluding your letter with a positive, courteous message leaves the recipient with a positive association with you (and your email), and you're more likely to get a response.
The most important thing to remember about business emails is that they need to be short and concise. Don't drag it out for several paragraphs when just two or three will do. Reading emails takes time, and that's something that a lot of people are short on. A shorter email is more likely to be read all the way through; a longer email will be scanned for essential information, and then likely ignored. Improve your email writing abilities, and you're guaranteed a much more favorable response.
What's the worst business email you've ever received? Are there some bad emailing practices that bother you more than others?