E-mails dominate B2B communication. E-mail volume dwarfs that of the telephone, fax, and direct mailer.

If you are like me, you are getting dozens if not hundreds of e-mail messages a day; most are spam and are deleted. The rest are scanned or put aside to be read later. The truth is most don’t get read.

Given this low survival rate of an e-mail, the writer must resolve to communicate efficiently with the hope to engage the reader. Here are a few thoughts about how to write better e-mails.

1. Always personalize the letter with the reader’s name. It is cliché, but no word is more important than the reader’s name.
2. Be brief. If you can’t get your point across in a few sentences, your e-mail will be deleted. Short e-mails rule.
3. Avoid attachments. Attachments are the domain of viruses, spam, and eye fatigue. Ever fearful of hackers, readers more and more are choosing not to open attachments.
4. Give context. If the reader does not know you by name, tell them how you came to contact them or where you met. Give them a reason to continue reading.
5. Use simple subject lines. Use a subject line that accurately describes the purpose of the e-mail. Don’t tease or fib. Clever subject lines reek of spam.
6. Be clear. Say what you mean. If there is a call to action, tell them. Be specific.
7. Tell the truth. If you are selling something say so. A good value proposition tells the reader why to buy.
8. Benefits sell while features tell. Speeds and feeds will be ignored. Focus on how your offering helps the reader.
9. Key points need white space. Present your key points with lists, dashes, asterisks, or bullets surrounded by white space. This says read me.
10. Call to action. Close with the next step, the call to action, or what is needed.
11. Contact information. Include your signature with all your contact information.
12. Consider a Postscript. Postscripts are a great place for a reminder about the call to action or for an incentive.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2008 All rights reserved.

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