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When was the last time you received a really great email?
Not a newsletter or promo email about the latest course you must have, just a regular email correspondence that was a pleasure to read?
My guess is you haven’t seen one in a very long time, or very often—if ever.
“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” This witty quote (attributed to the 17th-century French polymath Blaise Pascal; although some say it came from Mark Twain or Woodrow Wilson) hits the nail on the head.
Writing a concise but impactful letter is challenging. Some might say it’s an art.
There’s a difference between shooting off an email and writing something good that will make a positive impression on your client and will help strengthen your esteem and overall relationship.
It takes no time at all to write a long, stream-of-consciousness message, but a thoughtful, brief message can take a lot of effort and time, to write.
But man, is it worth it!
Nowadays, the quick and blunt email has taken the lead as the default method of communication. As an entrepreneur and business owner, you should be shooting for higher than that!
Often, your emails are your primary method of contact with your client base, so learning to craft engaging, interesting, and well-thought out emails should be a priority. It can make a world of difference in your customer service. Here are a few tips on the art of writing the “perfect” email.
Seems obvious but it’s incredible to me how many people overlook the simple aspect of friendliness when writing an email.
When you encounter a new, existing, or potential client in person, what’s the very first thing you do? You smile at them! This gesture of friendliness sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. You don’t start a conversation with a client by scowling at them… and if you do, you might have bigger problems than worrying about how to write the perfect email!
Setting a friendly tone when writing an email also sets the tone of the communication that follows. Yes, being brisk and businesslike can be professional, but a little bit of levity and friendliness won’t hurt. Nowadays, a little informal (but respectful) touch can go a long way to enhance your brand.
Pro Tip: Strive for polite without being stiff. If you come from an old school approach to business, this might mean starting the email with the person’s first name instead of their title and last name. (“Hi Jane” sounds a lot friendlier than “Hello Mrs. Fairbanks”).
It’s also nice to take a line (but not a long paragraph) to greet them and ask how they are before diving into business.
Pay some attention to your sign-off as well. Instead of signing off “Yours truly,” or “Sincerely,” try something like “Warmly” or “All the best” (my personal fav). You could even try a more natural closing sentence like, “Looking forward to hearing from you.” or “Talk soon!”.
Softening the tone of your emails just a bit can help you build a positive relationship with your clients, making all other interactions, both online and in person, much smoother.
One of the problems with being a busy business owner is you often don’t take the time to write your emails carefully. This can result in emails that are more stream-of-consciousness than well-crafted.
If you’re writing an email that involves many important points, rapidly typing your thoughts down could result in you missing something important. Or you may think you’ve communicated something clearly and your poor recipient is hiring the top code-cracker in the country to decipher what you’re getting at.
Before you write your email, it can help to layout your thoughts clearly. This could be as simple as writing down all of the points in the order in which you want to address them. So when you start your email, it might look a bit like this:
Just wanted to drop you a message about (the overall point).
This is the paragraph that includes the (first point).
This is the paragraph that includes the (second point) and (third point).
This is the paragraph where you sum up (all the points).
What do you think?
From this draft, you can expand the email around each point you want to make, ensuring that you won’t miss anything important.
Pro Tip: DO NOT add the person’s email address until you’re ready to send. If replying to an email, remove the person’s email address and add it back only when you’re ready to hit the ol’ send button. This not only gives you a natural moment to pause and reflect on what you wrote before sending; it also prevents you from accidentally sending something prematurely.
When you send an email, you can use formatting to your advantage, so it’s easy for the recipient to read and catch all the important points. The defaults included with most programs like Google or Outlook include formatting tools that many people forget to leverage to organize their emails.
Remember that reading online is not like reading print and big blocks of text can be daunting for a reader to tackle. Here are some quick tips:
Use formatting to make your points stand out. This also makes it much easier for all parties to refer back to key information so that they can skim an old email and pick out the details they need.
Usually, when you’re sending a business email, it’s not just informational. You probably have questions you need answers to, or maybe you need input and feedback. It’s important to make any deliverables or calls to action crystal clear, especially if your email is long and includes a lot of information. Use polite but direct questions to show that you’re waiting for a response. Here are a few examples.
Before they see a single word of your email, your recipient is going to see your subject line. Anyone who works in email marketing knows that a stellar subject line can be even more important than the content of the email itself. In the case of a newsletter, if your subject line isn’t enticing, your audience might not bother to open the email at all.
This works differently for email correspondence, but a well thought out subject line is still important.
When it comes to a correspondence email, your subject line should be more than just a brief summation of the contents of your email. Consider framing the subject line as a question to engage the reader, so they know what the email is about and also that you’re asking for their reply.
Although some people go for super-lengthy and detailed subject lines, I find it best to keep them as short as possible. You want the whole subject line to appear when they receive your email. If it trails off with a “…”, then it’s probably too long.
Here are some other helpful tips to keep in mind when you’re writing an email.
Pro Tip: Don’t send an email when you’re angry or in a bad mood. Wait until you’ve calmed down, then return to it. When it’s important, or there’s been a miscommunication, pick up the phone. Sometimes emails just don’t convey the right tone, and you can almost always solve an issue much more quickly with a personal phone call than an email.
Some say that perfection is impossible, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be in constant pursuit of it!
Remember that your email is a reflection of you and by putting just a little bit more effort into your daily emails, you can deliver a much smoother customer service experience to your clients.
After all, think about how many emails you have to deal with on a daily basis. Rather than join the pack with brisk and often unfriendly emails, you can increase your esteem with your customers by putting in that extra bit of effort. I think that’s worth an extra minute or two!
How many emails do you send out a day? Are any of them memorable? Tell us about it in the comments below!