It's always more than a message - Tucson Local Media: Business

It's always more than a message

Make sure those e-mails are well done

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Posted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:20 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Every piece of business electronic mail sends more than a message, according to Jane Dominguez, the Email Doctor.

"Every e-mail we send out is a piece of public relations about us, about our business," Dominguez told a recent luncheon gathering of the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce. "Every one we send out is advertising, and for small companies, it's great, free advertising."

Dominguez shared e-mail pointers with the business lunch crowd.

A good e-mail begins with a good subject line.

"It's your first shot," Dominguez said. "That's the one thing we can be pretty sure our audience is going to read."

A subject line that reads "Meeting," "Hi," "Info" or "FYI" is "not helpful," and does not leave a good impression, she believes. That's vital to remember; e-mail makes an impression, she said.

Writers should greet a recipient. "Make sure our audience is glad to get our e-mail," Dominguez said.

The first two lines of an e-mail are "critical, from a couple different aspects," Dominguez said. "The first two lines is 90 percent of the reason for sending an e-mail. Make those count. Give them a good reason to keep reading."

Short paragraphs and good use of white space keep people reading. Bullet points can help. Concise language is useful; "a lot of our e-mails are read on mobile devices," Dominguez said. "There's not much room. Fifty-dollar words slow the reading." She reminds people that business readers "don't read, they scan, they skim."

Proofread an e-mail, even if that means printing out a copy. "If we don't spell their name correctly, they discount the rest of their message," Dominguez said. "Don't trust spellcheck. We want to work with people who are going to pay attention to us, to our needs."

When an e-mail is "poorly done," the recipient might think "apparently I'm not that important,'" she continued.

All caps is "shouting." Red or bold type is rude. "Tone speaks louder than words," Dominguez said. "Would you say in person what you're writing? How would you feel if you received that?"

Don't forget, she continued, that "any e-mail we send can be forwarded to anybody." And, in that vein, infrequent use of "Reply to All" is recommended.

Jane Dominguez, CPA, is The Email Doctor. She may be reached at 668-0327, or jane@writebusinessadvantage.com

Impact of e-mail

E-mail statistics, from Jane Dominguez, the Email Doctor:

40 percent of the average officer worker's time is spent on activities related to e-mail.

Employees waste one hour a day clarifying unclear messages.

Poor business writing skills cost U.S. companies more than $308 billion a year.

Seventy-four percent of communication with clients, customers and associates is through e-mail.

Top 10 e-mail tips

Make the subject line specific and useful.

Format for ease of reading and the right impression.

Use proper grammar, punctuation and spelling.

Highlight main point in subject line and first two sentences.

Be concise.

Make requests for action clear, and provide all needed information

Match tone to situation with good word choices.

Apply courtesy and etiquette generously.

Proofread for errors and edit for content relevance.

Use familiar words, define abbreviations and acronyms.

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