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4 tactics for better e-mail responses

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in Office Technology

Make your e-mail easy to read and easy to respond to with these four tips:

1. Limit your e-mail messages to one topic. You might end up sending six e-mails instead of one, but consider the alternative: Let’s say you send an e-mail with six items in it. Of those six, two can be answered in two minutes, two can be answered within 10 minutes and two require some thought and effort on the other person’s part.

If you include them all in the same e-mail, one of two things will happen:

1. The person responds immediately to the quick-response topics and then forgets about the other items. Now you’re waiting even longer and might even have to send a follow-up e-mail.

2. The person decides to wait until he can answer everything at once. So even the quick-response items are on hold.

2. Make sure your headline is clear, strong and descriptive. People are scanners. A descriptive headline—even if it’s a long one—allows them to quickly figure out what you need, then respond.

3. Include all contact information within every e-mail, making it as easy as possible for the other person to reach you. For example:

I can be reached in the following ways:

Email: jane@abc.com

Phone: 202-555-1212

Skype: janeabrown

Twitter: @janeabrown

Web site: www.abc.com

4. Encompass any and all relevant information the person might need to answer the e-mail. Even if you’ve sent relevant files before, attach them again. Ask yourself what you would need, and make sure you’ve included it.

It may take a few extra minutes to follow these tips, but the higher-quality e-mails you’ll send out will prompt higher-quality responses—making the effort well worth it.

— Adapted from “A Few Notes on Writing Emails,” Leslie A. Joy, Brazen Careerist.

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