Ever wonder why sometimes your email gets a response right away – and other times you don’t hear back for a week…or ever?
Do you know how frequently people delete emails without reading them? Do you know the percentage of emails that simply sit unread in their owners overflowing inboxes forever?
I don’t either – but I have seen people with literally thousands of unread messages in their inbox, so I know it’s real!
Let’s talk about how we can prevent that from happening to emails you send with these Simple Techniques To Get Your Emails Opened, Read and Responded To.
1. Keep It Short
THE most important tip of all – that’s why it’s first. If you do nothing else, keep your emails short and to the point!
Let me give you a simple formula:
For a constant value “g”
g x (Length Of Email)^2 = Time For Sid To Response
Yes, that reads the length of the email squared. The longer an email gets, the less likely your reader is to respond to it in a timely manner – or perhaps at all.
As a personal example, if I have to read a long email, think about multiple points and write responses to each point - it’s hard to justify that, when I know I could respond to a dozen shorter emails from other people in the same time frame.
Rule of Thumb: To get a fast response, keep it to a couple sentences of of introduction, couple sentences of background and a question, and one sentence saying thanks.
That’s it, 4-10 sentences, and I’ll reply quickly almost every time – unless the questions are difficult to answer!
2. Use a Descriptive Subject
Anytime I get an email with a blank subject, unless I know the sender very well, guess what I do? I toss it in a folder to review “later.”
I get upwards of 300 email per day – and unfortunately, if someone won’t spend the time to put a subject line, I won’t take the time to open it and prioritize it.
Frequently if the subject is descriptive (e.g. “Where did you get that shirt on Friday?”) I’ll open it right away and – gasp! – out of order, because I know I can respond quickly.
Rule of Thumb: If you can’t boil down the point of the email into a subject line, you may be trying to do too much in one email.
3. Write With Clarity and Conviction
Keep it short, get to the point – and be clear about what you’re saying, without wavering.
If you’re going to email someone and ask for help, don’t email and say
“If you could help in any way I would appreciate it, but if you can’t that is ok, I understand, but I would really appreciate it if you could help me out though.”
That’s no good.
Rule of Thumb #1: If I can’t answer yes, no, or pick an answer multiple choice style from options you’ve given me, the request lacks clarity. Make the decision easy on the recipient.
Rather than going with a vague request, a better approach is to go in with a specific outcome in mind. You can still be polite without imposing, but write with some clarity and conviction!
“I’d like to meet you for lunch and chat for 45 minutes, does either Wednesday or Thursday at noon work for you? Otherwise we can chat on the phone anytime tomorrow afternoon if you you prefer.”
Rule of Thumb #2: If I can’t figure out which option you would prefer (regardless of what I choose), it could probably use a dash more conviction. Notable exception to this rule is if you’re providing multiple options for good times to meet.
4. Get The Recipient Invested
Imagine a typical person at the office: they’ve got a number of tasks they’re working on, they’re possibly behind, they’re stressed out…and now, they see an email pop up from you – someone they’ve never met before.
Without even reading the subject line, the first thought they might have is “Oh no, something else I have to do!”
To overcome that, get them invested in your cause. Two specific ways you can do this is:
- When possible, get introduced. I am 378% more likely (note: made up statistic) to reply if someone has introduced me. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever ignored an email where someone has introduced someone else to me – never underestimate the value of a referral.
- Show the recipient what’s in it for them. Too often we write emails talking about “me, me, me.” Try to instead look at it from the recipient’s point of view. Imagine that they get 2,000 emails a day, and you want yours to be the one that gets read and responded to. Tune in to what Brian Tracy calls “each person’s favorite radio station”, WIIFM, “What’s in it for me?”
Rule of Thumb: Make them want to keep reading – either out of respect for their contact, or the opportunity you present (and preferably both!).
Take Responsibility For The Response
The final thought I’d like to leave you with is you have the power to influence whether your email gets a response or not. By making it easy on the recipient, you can greatly increase the chances they’ll get back to you quickly and with the information you need.
Don’t just contact people with a vague hope of them getting back to you – get a referral if possible, be clear, to the point and show how the recipient can gain by engaging with you.
Follow these guidelines and not only will you increase your likelihood of success when contacting busy people – when you email me, you may just skip to the front of the inbox!
Now if you enjoyed this article, I’d like to ask you to do me a favor – leave a comment, share it on Twitter or Facebook, or forward it to a friend. Thanks so much for reading, and I sincerely appreciate your support!
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