Three Tips to Write E-Mails That Are Read Now, Not Later


E-mail is good because it is quick and easy; it is bad because it is quick and easy!

How well–or badly–you write an e-mail determines if it is read now, later or not at all. This article will give you some tips and tools for writing e-mails that are read now.

Use a Compelling Subject Line

Your subject line is the most important part of an e-mail. It needs to set the reader’s expectations and communicate what the e-mail is about.

When readers open their in-boxes, they usually sort by sender, then subject. If they know the sender, they are more likely to open and read the e-mail. If they do not know the sender, they refer to the subject line to decide if they want to read it.

A compelling subject line provides readers with information to help them prioritize your e-mail. This is vital if a reader does not know you, for example, if you are sending a marketing e-mail or following up with a referral from someone else.

The easiest way to create a compelling subject line is to use a keyword. You are probably familiar with keywords for your website and search engine optimization. A keyword for an e-mail tells the reader what the e-mail is about. Itis the first word of the subject line followed by the rest of the subject line. Some good keywords are:

  • Decision: The reader needs to make a decision.
  • Approval: The reader needs to approve something.
  • Review: The reader needs to review something.
  • Action: The reader needs to take action on something.
  • Deadline: The reader has a deadline.

It isn’t enough to use just the keyword; the rest of the subject line must add information. For example:

  • Decision: Which cover design do you prefer?
  • Approval: Please approve the attached draft of your brochure
  • Review: Please review and attached proposal and let me know if you want to proceed
  • Action: Tell Donna which domain name you want to use
  • Deadline: Discount for conference expires on Friday

When you combine a keyword with a descriptive subject line, you create a compelling subject line that will help readers prioritize your e-mails.

Use a Detailed Signature Box

Use every e-mail as a marketing tool. Your signature box is your opportunity to communicate who you are and your areas of expertise. A good signature box has your name, business name, tagline, website url, blog url and contact information. Your physical or mailing address is optional.

Avoid including quotations from famous people or books. Consider adding a brief testimonial after your contact information as a mini-marketing tool.

Stay “Above the Fold”

“Above the fold” is a newspaper term. It refers to the top half of the newspaper; this is the part of the paper that shows on the newsstand. “Above-the-fold” is prime real estate.

In an e-mail, “above the fold” is what readers see when they open the e-mail. Below the fold is what they see when they scroll down. Make sure you put the most important information “above the fold.” Don’t make readers scroll to find it since some readers will leave without taking this step.

These three tips can help you write e-mails that mean business.

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