There are few things more frustrating for a small business owner than waiting…and waiting…to get an answer to your email from an important client, big prospect or key vendor. As a naturally impatient person, I have to admit I get annoyed when my professional business email goes unanswered. What can you do to speed things up?
Worldwide, a mind-blowing 269 billion emails are sent each day, according to The Radicati Group--and the person you’re emailing may feel like all 269 billion of those emails are in their inbox. But there are a few steps you can take to increase the odds of a rapid reply.
Professional business email do’s
- Do keep it brief. Don’t make your recipient scroll down to view your full email. Longer emails are more likely to get pushed aside for "later" — and we all know that when it comes to email, "later" often means "never." More than half (55 percent) of emails are viewed on a mobile device, MediaPost reports, so you should always envision your email being opened and read on a smartphone. According to Fast Company, emails of between 50 and 125 words are the most likely to get results.
- Do craft a clear subject line. Just as with marketing emails, a short subject line that gets to the point will help you get a faster response. If your email is time-sensitive, for example, a subject line such as "Feedback requested by 4/5" or "Can we meet this week?" will help convey a sense of urgency. (Get tips on writing good subject lines.)
- Do make it easy to read. Even if your email is short, the way you format it can make it even easier to digest. Use white space between paragraphs and sentences to break up the text. Use bullets or numbers to mark off key points or options.
- Do use a professional business email address. When you're emailing someone you don't know very well or trying to establish a relationship with, it's important to look professional. If you're still using a generic email address, such email@example.com, for your business communications, your emails might look like spam. Switching to a professional business email address can have a huge impact on the results you get from your email.
Professional business email don’ts
- Don’t be vague. Presenting a few concrete options is more likely to get a reply than a vague request. For instance, if you ask, "Is there a good time to meet for coffee in the next few weeks?" you're asking the recipient to check their calendar and do a lot of work. On the other hand, asking, "Can you meet for coffee next Tuesday or Wednesday at 8 AM?" It's a simple reply.
- Don't be a pest. We all get a lot of emails, so give people at least 48 hours to respond. Many business people read non-urgent email in batches throughout the week, not every day. If the recipient doesn't know you, following up again 12 hours after you sent an email is more likely to turn them off than to get a response.
- Don’t be shy about dropping names. Are you trying to connect with a potential business partner or client that someone referred you to? Include the referrer’s name in your subject line to get the recipient’s attention: "Referred by Doug Jones at Capshaw."
- Don’t be generic. People naturally pay more attention to emails that are personalized with their names. Start off with a quick greeting using the recipient's name; for even better results, repeat their name in your signoff, too ("Thanks, Susan!")
Following these simple tips should help you get faster responses to your professional business emails. Need more help? Read more about writing powerful emails.