Do the emails you send to your clients build credibility? Credibility… like your ability to be laser sharp and get to the essence of an issue? Or are they written like mini briefs? Everyone gets more emails per day than they can possibly read. When communicating with clients it is important that they read your emails and take action. So how do you get them to do it? Geoffrey James from Inc. Magazine has a six-step system to turn your over-written emails into productive tools that will build your credibility and demonstrate to your clients that you do care about efficiency.
E-mails are the most common document in the business world. Unfortunately, many e-mails are so poorly written that recipients must struggle to figure out why they’re reading the e-mail and what they’re supposed to do about it. Here’s a foolproof method to write e-mails that get the job done.
1. Have a specific decision in mind. The goal of an e-mail is always to get the recipient(s) to make a decision of some kind. Otherwise, why bother writing it?
Therefore, before you write anything, ask yourself: exactly what decision do I want the recipient to make? As with all business writing, vagueness is the opposite of useful. The clearer the goal, the more convincing your e-mail will be.
2. Start by writing your conclusion. Your conclusion is a statement of the decision that you want the recipient to make, based upon the contents of your e-mail.
In school, they probably taught you to start with an introduction and end with a conclusion. Wrong. Nobody in the business world has time to wander through the development of an idea. If you don’t tell them the reason for the e-mail immediately, chances are they’ll just move on.
3. Structure your supporting argument into “digestible chunks.” Once you’ve stated your conclusion, marshal the arguments that support your conclusion (i.e. the decision you want made). To make your arguments “digestible,” break them into small “chunks,” and present each point with a similar format and sentence structure.
4. Bolster each argument with evidence. It’s been said that everyone has two things: a sphincter and an opinion. Unless you provide facts that back up your arguments, your e-mail becomes one giant, opinion and therefore, in the eyes of the recipient, you’ll probably seem like one, giant… well…, you get the idea.
5. Repeat your conclusion as a “call to action.” At the end of the e-mail, restate the conclusion in a way that provides the recipient with the next step that the recipient must take, assuming the recipient now agrees with your conclusion, based upon the force of your arguments and evidence. Keep it simple and specific.
6. Stick a benefit in the subject line. Your subject line (aka “title”) is the most important part of an e-mail, which is why you write it last, after you’ve written down both your conclusion and the arguments and evidence that supports that conclusion.
Ideally, a subject line should accomplish two important tasks: 1) interest the recipient enough so that the e-mail gets opened and read, and 2) imply the conclusion that you want to the recipient to accept. In most cases, the best way to accomplish both tasks is to encapsulate a benefit (or benefits) that will result from the decision that you’d like the recipient to make.
This simple six-step system could change the rate of new matters you get from your clients. So, do it and grow your practice.