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10 Email Makeover Tips

September 02 2011

Today seems like a good day for a makeover. Nope, not for you – for your email! We suspect this might be overdue. Far too many of us fall into the trap of ineffective email writing. Here are a few quick tips that can help you transform your outgoing messages.

1) Strategize. Think about what you want to accomplish with your email before you start writing. Every sentence you write should go toward accomplishing that goal.

2) Put yourself in your readers' place. What do they want to hear? Keeping this in mind will keep you out of the trap of self-indulgent "me, me, me" emails. The truth is – people are selfish. They don't want to hear about you; they're thinking about themselves. You'd better provide value or you'll lose your readers.

3) Create a "string of pearls." Don't waste a single word. Select each word carefully and use as few of them as possible. This will help you craft a powerful, concise message.

4) Choose the right font. Make sure that your font is readable and that the size is large enough to be read easily. Arial is always a winner; so is Helvetica. Along these same lines, don't use a fancy background. The vast majority of the time, busy background colors or designs aren't cute – they're just plain annoying.

5) Be sure your emails can be scanned easily. People read email quickly, scanning most of it. Including bulleted lists, numbered lists, subheadings, and short paragraphs is a smart choice.

6) Write less. Keep your emails brief. People have a very short attention span for email. They're in a hurry, so the faster you can get your message across, the better.

7) Include a call-to-action. Remember that goal you established in my first point? Well, you've got to make sure that your readers know what you want them to do so that they can do it – it's called a call-to-action and you don't want to leave it out of your email.

8) Make sure contact info is featured prominently. Don't you hate it when you get an email from someone and they don't include a signature? What if you want to call them? What if you want to visit their website? What about social media (like Facebook and Twitter)? Make sure that all your contact information is included and that it's easy to see.

9) Choose a clear subject line. Better yet, make it a subject line that answers the inevitable question: "What's in it for me?"

10) Proofread. People will lose respect for you, and may even stop reading your email, if they see spelling and grammar mistakes. Thus, it's very important to proofread your email before it goes out. Many people find that reading the email out loud is extremely helpful.

If You Need Help
True, there are some emails that you're just going to have to take care of yourself. However, there are companies that are experts in email communication. If you'd like to have most email responsibility taken off your plate, you can consider a company like Happy Grasshopper. (We have an article next week that will introduce their services more in-depth.)

What are your email pet peeves? Do you have any secretes to email success? Share them here.