Want People to Actually Read Your Email? Follow These 9 Tips

Wonder why no one actually reads the emails you send at work? Well wonder no more, thanks to our latest discussion in the Professional Communications class at Globe University-Green Bay. We want to provide you with the ins and outs of how to write better emails and to avoid those costly mistakes that might get your email sent to the dreaded deleted box.

  1.     Write a concise and interesting subject line.

Ever get an email without a subject? That sender was wasting prime real estate. The subject line can make or break an email. Avoid using words like “FYI,” “reminder,” or general jargon that decreases the interest or importance of the email.

  1.     Use the read receipt and high importance options sparingly.

Kenneth Peterson, information technology student, shared, “I never read any emails that request a read receipt, and I purposely delete them right away. If the sender doesn’t trust that I will actually read it, then I am not going to.”

Read receipts allow the sender to use a pop-up box to prompt the receiver if she or he has actually read the message. Marking an email high priority will include that note on the email usually with a red exclamation point. Use both sparingly, because if you always use one or the other, people will start to ignore the urgency behind it.

  1.     Get to the point.

If you tend to write long wordy emails, go back, revise and cut everything possible out of your email. If someone has to scroll the page down to read your entire email, it’s unlikely they will read everything. Most people skim. If you have important details you need included, consider sending an attachment.

  1.     Consider the aesthetic (design and layout) appeal of your email.

Try to use short sentences, bullet points and white space so that it is easier for the reader to take in the information. Avoid fancy fonts, poor color choices or cheesy clipart. Use bold, underline and colors sparingly.

  1.     Avoid sending huge files whether as an attachment or a picture.

If your receiver already has an inbox that is overflowing, you want to limit the amount of space your email takes up or it will be quickly deleted. Try not to send full size pictures that take of 5MB in an email, but rather save them down for email usage to conserve limited inbox space.

  1.     Write a nice, personalized greeting.

Emails without some sort of greeting can come across as cold. Take the time to start it off right.

  1.     Get rid of the obnoxious auto-signatures when sending mobile email.

Most people don’t want to see that you sent the message from your iPhone, so be sure to turn that off or change it. It also increases the chance of typos or unprofessional email when sending emails regularly from your phone.

  1.     Timing is everything.

Think about when are the best times to send the email. You might be better off emailing the next morning or afternoon when you can better reach your recipient rather than sending it late on a Friday afternoon.

  1.     Consider your purpose and medium.

Is email the best way to communicate your message? Depending on your goal and what type of information you wish to communicate, email may not be the best option. Using email as a passive-aggressive tool is a no-no and typically only ends up making the confrontation worse. If your message requires an urgent response, pick up the phone or go talk to the person if you can.

Bonus tip: when sending emails to large groups or employees, remember if you don’t want everyone to reply all, then include them in the BCC or the blind carbon copy line. This allows everyone to be included on the email without seeing who else is included on the email.

What tips would you suggest to add to this list? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.