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How to Guarantee Your E-mail Is Read
Marsha Egan, CSP - Workplace Productivity Coach and E-mail Expert Marsha Egan, CSP - Workplace Productivity Coach and E-mail Expert
Reading, PA
Friday, March 18, 2011

When writing important e-mails that you need the recipient to read—an application for a job, a pitch to an editor, or an announcement—people often make many mistakes. Some of these "deadly don'ts" come from the trend toward casual writing in texting and personal e-mail. Other times messages fall victim to wordiness. Most people skim e-mails rather than reading them word-for-word. Therefore, if you don't capture their attention within the first few lines, they may delete your email. That is, if you're lucky enough that they actually opened it.

With the invention of e-mail, people have fallen into the habit of quickly writing messages without much consideration for their grammar or structure. Poorly written e-mails could ruin your credibility with the receiver, fail to spark their interest, or cost you an important opportunity.

The next time you sit down to type a message, consider these guidelines to writing the most effective e-mails, step by step, and ensure that your target audience reads your message, instead of sending it straight to the trash.

1. Use the TO: and CC: lines appropriately. If you are sending the e-mail to more than one person, the use of address lines becomes more complicated. Often people put too many recipients in the TO: line. Place the highest priority recipients in the TO: line and others in the CC: line. Most important of all—only send the e-mail to those who need to read it.

2. Only use the BCC: line when necessary. Think very carefully if you are considering blind copying an e-mail to someone. Sending blind copies, especially to a superior, can be viewed suspiciously and make people second-guess your trustworthiness. However, when you're sending a mass e-mail to people who don't know each other, blind copying is acceptable

3. Make your subject line detailed. Some people may neglect the subject line as an unnecessary step in writing an e-mail; however, it is an important delivery tool. The subject line is like the headline to a news article—it tells your reader what exactly they are looking at. If you're letting people know that there is a staff meeting coming up, don't simply title the e-mail "Staff Meeting". Add the specific details such as the date, the time, and/or the topic of the meeting .

4. Personalize the message. Never send e-mails directed to a company or addressed to a person's job title. Do the research and find out their name. You will more likely attract the recipient's attention by adding his or her first name to the body with a simple greeting like "Dear Harry," or "Good morning, Emily" than you will by addressing the e-mail "Dear Sir or Madam" or "To the Managing Editor".

5. Get your main point across early. Remember, people often skim their e-mails, so you don't have much time to grab their attention. Aim to state your main point or request within the first few lines, so that there is no question in the reader's mind as to your goal. Also, it's more likely the recipient will read your whole message if you keep the e-mail brief.

6. Proofread your e-mail. Nothing turns off the person you're trying to impress or persuade faster than poor grammar or spelling errors. The recipient judges your professional abilities based on how you communicate, even through e-mail. Give just as much care to a business e-mail as you would to a business letter.

By adopting better e-mail writing habits you'll be more successful in communicating with other people and achieving your goals. From now on when you start an e-mail, take it line by line and write with care and clarity. Ensure that your message will be opened and read.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Marsha Egan, CPCU, PCC
Title: CEO
Group: InboxDetox.com, a division of The Egan Group, Inc.
Dateline: Nantucket, MA United States
Cell Phone: 610-780-1640
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