Even though there are a multiple communication modes, email is still considered the most reliable and formal mode of communication. Unlike social media platforms or chat applications, email is universal. This makes email one of the most preferred communication tools, for work. With more and more organizations adapting to hybrid mode, where some employees work from distributed remote offices and some of the employees work from their homes, email conversations have increased manyfold. While chat, comments in team collaboration software can be to the point and a bit informal, business email is still considered formal and elaborate. It is one of the most important asynchronous modes of communication. The recipients can receive the email, read it, understand it and then respond to the email.
A step-by-step guide on how to write a professional email in 2021
The power of a well-structured professional email that conveys the message in minimum words and gets the reader to take action cannot be overlooked. It’s a must-have skill for every professional for effective communication, especially today, given the remote situation where a large chunk of conversations occurs on email.
Step 1: Think about the purpose, and create an email outline
You can’t just open your email account and start typing. With professionals, you need to be very clear on what you want to communicate so your email aligns with the core message. This ensures that everything is optimized for the recipient to take the intended action.
This outline will guide you in writing the ideal email, and if you convert it into a template you can also help other people in your organization craft them better. It’ll also help save time and act as a checklist while writing other emails, so you don’t have to start from scratch every time.
Step 2: Craft a compelling subject line
Step 3: Start with a warm and appropriate greeting
Once you’ve cracked the subject line, you can begin writing the email. In a professional email, the greeting matters a lot. It’s important because you could end up misspelling someone’s name or addressing them with the wrong salutation—all of which can affect their impression of you.
The salutation and greeting are a small yet integral part of a professional email. It can make or break your email efforts, so clarify the relationship with the receiver to write the ideal greeting. Here are some additional tips:
Step 4: Give a brief introduction about yourself
This is significant, especially when you’re emailing someone for the first time or using a different email address to communicate with people who know you. It plays a vital role in business emails because if the recipient doesn’t know who you are, it will be fairly complex for them to get back to you or find any motivation to respond.
Step 5: State your purpose of communication
Once you’ve introduced yourself, you can start communicating the purpose of sending this email. This is the main section of the email body that includes a detailed description of what you want to convey, how the recipient can benefit from it, and what they should do next.
Even though this is the juicy part of your email, keep it brief, and straightforward. No one has the time to read a lengthy email that’s hard to read and lacks context. Pay attention to communicating more in fewer words.
The key is to understand the recipient and write it intriguingly, which builds interest in what you’re saying and taking the desired action. The outline in step 1 will help you write this body more effectively.
Step 6: Use the right sign off
The end of your email is as important as the beginning. It should not leave the recipient hanging but tell them what to do next. Once you’ve explained your purpose in detail, summarize everything in one or two sentences as the closing lines for the body.
It all comes down to what the reader does after reading your email. If it’s written well, highlights the value, and includes the proper closing statements—you have a high chance of getting a response or seeing the desired result.
Pick the appropriate sign-off depending on your email’s purpose and your relationship with the audience. The wrong sign-off can create a bad impression as it may come off as being over-familiar or unprofessional.
Step 7: Include an email signature
Usually, all email marketing services and platforms like Gmail and Outlook allow you to add automatic email signatures to every email, in case you forget. It’s an excellent way to automate this section; however, you can always make changes based on the purpose of your email for a better response.
Best practices for writing professional emails
Writing formal emails is much more than just sticking to these steps. Paying attention to each one of them is essential, but there are some other things you need to keep in mind to make your email stand out and see results for your outreach efforts.
1. Keep your email short
Imagine it yourself—would you be keener to read a short and crisp email that gets to the point quickly or an extremely lengthy email that bores you simply by the look of it. Don’t forget to proofread it before you hit “send.”
An easy way to make your email short is to ask “so what” after every sentence. If there’s no definite answer to it, remove that sentence. Repeat this till you’re left with a concise email that communicates a message clearly, and quickly.
2. Personalize it for the receiver
Email personalization doesn’t only mean using the recipient’s name in the subject line or salutation. It refers to including elements that show you’ve done your research and have taken out time to write a good email for them.
The best way to do this is to include a personalized first paragraph in the body. You can go through the recipient’s social media, website, or news features—anything that gives you a starter point to show you’ve done your research.
“Hey X, I recently saw your social media post on the importance of sales funnels for B2B brands, and I couldn’t agree with it more. I especially loved the second point about understanding the customer’s journey, it was such a great post.”
For large batches of cold emails, it’s not always possible to manually edit each email by hand. Using tools like Hunter Campaigns can save you hours of your time. Create a CSV with detailed information about your prospects.
3. Leverage image personalization
A great growth hack to almost double the open, and response rate for your email is using image personalization. Instead of blocks of text, use images to communicate the same message but with a touch of personalization for every recipient.
Image personalization is a wonderful way to make your email stand out, and catch the recipient’s attention so they’re instantly interested in responding to you. It can also significantly increase your conversion rate if you’re sending sales emails.
4. Don’t use slang or jargon
Using slang, messaging language, or technical jargon in emails are the biggest red flags for professional emails. Since these emails are written for business communication with immense value, slang, and jargon decrease professionalism and go against business email etiquette.
It can also be perceived as disrespectful, so avoid using these, and stick to business language that’s simple, easy to understand, and communicates the message in a professional tone of voice. Using it can also give a casual impression to the recipient, causing them not to take your business and email seriously.
The key reason why you should avoid slang is that it can give out the wrong impression, cause confusion or offend someone. With jargon, your email language becomes complicated, making it difficult for the recipient to understand what you’re trying to say.
5. Always follow-up
Sending an email as a follow-up is essential to jog the recipient’s memory and remind them to give you a response. Sometimes, professionals get busy, the email gets lost in the inbox, it might land into spam, or they might be looking for a further nudge to give you a response.
If you don’t get a response to your first email, then there’s a 21% chance to receive a reply to the second email. Sometimes we feel afraid of sending follow-ups and that our prospects feel stalked and angry. In fact, many of them feel grateful and admire your persistence. Especially if you send out cold email outreach and the prospects don’t know you, reading multiple of your emails generates a feeling of familiarity.
Keep the follow-up brief and try to get to the point as quickly as possible. This doesn’t have to be as detailed as your first email. It would be best to create a template for a 2-email sequence for follow-ups so you can be ready to respond.
Your subject line goes in its own field above the message itself, but it’s still very much part of your email. And you should never leave it off—or your message is likely to remain unopened, whether the reader skips over it or it lands in their junk folder.
This short phrase (along with your name or email address) will be what the recipient sees before they decide whether or not to click on your email, so you want to make sure you’re clearly stating what your message is about and setting the right expectations. Stay away from subject lines that just say “Hello” or “Please read” unless you know the person well. Instead try something along the lines of these examples:
Note: If you’re applying for a job via email, sometimes the job posting will tell you to include something like your name or the position title or number in your subject line, and you should always follow these directions.
The only time you don’t need to write a subject line is if you’re responding to or forwarding someone else’s message: In this case, you can just leave the existing subject line—unless you want to highlight a specific deadline or action item.
Provide the purpose in a crux
This is the main part of the email where you mention the core content or purpose of the email. Ensure that you write the core email content in clear short sentences. Avoid unwanted jargon, or too technical/industry-specific terms in the very first email, when you are not sure about the recipient’s knowledge in those areas. If you are reaching out, based on research or if someone has recommended this contact, make sure you mention that in the email. This will help the reader understand the context of the email better. If you have a lot to say, it would be better to communicate the main and important items in the first email and save the rest for later.
Every email is essentially a task list for someone. It either expects a response with some details or action from the recipient. In some cases, the recipient might have to connect you with someone who can act on the email. In any case, mention the action expected from the recipient clearly in the email. This should be immediately after the core email where you state the purpose of the email.