Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | July 20, 2010

Do Readers Welcome Your Email Message?

Do Readers Welcome Your Email Message?

What reaction do recipients have when they see a message from you in their bulging inbox? Do they open it or let it slide to the bottom of the slush pile? Do you know what your readers want? Answer these five quick questions and find out if readers welcome your email messages.

1. Readers appreciate receiving the details of my topic.       T or F

2. Readers know my message is important and
read it carefully.                                                              T or F

3. It’s the content of the message that counts,
not the format.                                                              T or F

4. Expensive sounding words and industry jargon
highlight my expertise.                                                    T or F

5. I ensure readers fully understand
my perspective.                                                              T or F

1. False. Readers have an interest in what you say only insofar as it affects their working world, and have become accustomed to having information delivered in quick, easy to digest, bit-sized morsels. If the subject line and first two sentences of your message don’t capture the interest of your reader, they may not read the remainder of your email. A strong and clear beginning is the best way to encourage your reader to continue reading. Tell your reader what they need to know, not everything on the topic (unless they have asked for in-depth details), and not what you think they should know. When we write for the reader and from their perspective, they pay better attention and are more likely to respond favorably or complete requested action. Many readers view their email on small devices making the need clear and concise writing paramount for success.

2. False. Business readers don’t read, they scan. Your message is important to you, but it may not be a priority with your reader. It would be nice if our readers took the time to carefully read the email we thoughtfully composed, but they will do so only if they think it will benefit them. Most of our readers peek at the myriad of messages they receive each day, looking for the answer to their most important question, “what’s in it for me?” We have to answer that question in the first couple of sentences to keep them reading or they will move on to the next email.

3. False. The format of your email will either encourage or discourage your recipient to read it, and has a major impact on how they perceive the message. A well-formatted email tells your reader that they are important and that your message is worth their time to read. Well-formatted messages announce you as a professional, and readers are more likely to trust and act on your information. We have all opened an email that was one long, rambling paragraph, and either clicked delete or put off reading it as long as possible. Beginning with a proper greeting, using short paragraphs, breaking up longs blocks of information with bullet points, and paying attention to grammar and spelling make our messages more appealing to read, and add to our credentials.

4. False. When readers quickly skim our emails, long words, unfamiliar words, and technical jargon can disrupt their reading, and they often lose the purpose of our information. Once our reader shifts their attention away from our material they probably won’t come back. Their eyes may continue to glance over the material, but their attention is still focused on the word they stumbled on. It’s our job as professionals to share our expertise in a way that our reader can understand and use it.

5. False. It can be tempting to explain a topic from our own point of view, but our readers will digest the material better if we do it from their perspective. Consider your audience’s level of knowledge, expertise or understanding of the topic. When we are trying to convince them to accept our recommendation, respond to our request, or take action, we have to remember the #1 rule of persuasive writing; focus on the benefits to the reader, not the features.

These are only a few characteristics of well-written emails our readers welcome. What makes you react favorably to a business email? What makes you click delete as fast as possible?

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