Do you ever send out carefully crafted emails packed full of useful information and wait for a reply that never comes? It can be extremely frustrating to feel like you’re talking and no one is listening. Some company leaders like Phil Libin are actually trying to eradicate emailing from the everyday workflow. Most of us without communication robots roaming around the office don’t have the luxury of getting rid of email just yet.
The key to getting your emails read and acted upon is keeping your audience in mind. Many of us craft emails in a format that is convenient for us, with little regard for the reader.
What we will often do, is search for the email address we’re looking for, and instead of sending a new email, we will simply reply to the latest email conversation that pops-up. Email 101: Your subject should be clear and relevant. If this subject line has nothing to do with what you’re talking about, it will completely throw the reader off. Let’s say that the subject line indicates that you are addressing an ancient project that has no need to be revisited. The reader will probably either not click on that email at all, or put it at the bottom of the pile.
If the email is timely or urgent, note that in the subject line. If this is a communication that does not require immediate action, perhaps a “When You Get Time…” would help the reader to assess their email situation. Note the level of urgency and reference the actual subject of the email in the subject line.
The Super Ambiguous Forward
This happens all the time, and I think we are all guilty of it. I will often come across interesting articles, slide shares, newsletters and sites that I pass along to my team. Sometimes the ideas will require action and other times I would just like them to read the information. Simply forwarding something with no context is annoying for the reader. What are they supposed to do with this information or take away from it?
Then there is the even more ambiguous forward of an email conversation. Looping someone in on a conversation is great, but give them some guidance. If they need to read the whole conversation, note that and let them know why. If the only part that is relevant to them is last email, just send that. It is extremely time consuming for someone to go through a dozen back-and-forth emails and try to decipher which part is relevant to them. There are instances where I simply need a team member to get acclimated to the tone and conversation of a client. If this is the case, that should be noted with the forward. Don’t forget the “why” in forwards.
Soliciting a Response
I love pumping my team full of information. I am constantly sharing designs I love, industry trends that I hate or informative articles that I think would be of use to them. Although these emails don’t directly solicit a response, when I don’t hear back about them I feel like all of these ideas that I’m excited about and took the time to share are falling on deaf ears.
I started to get frustrated and felt like no one was open to my ideas but this wasn’t the case. If an email doesn’t solicit a response, you shouldn’t expect one. I learned that if I want a response, I simply have to ask for it. My team now knows that every email needs a response, even if it is as simple as, “Got it”.
Read From the Other Side
Again, keeping the audience in mind when crafting email is the key to getting them read and properly acted upon. Once you have an email written, read it as though you are receiving it. Is the tone appropriate for the message? Are the proper attachments present? And most importantly, does this email make sense to the reader? What might be perfectly clear to you may have absolutely no context to the reader.