Email is a powerful communication medium and it has the potential to enhance or undermine your brand in an instant. Therefore, it’s worth giving it some careful thought as a key business consideration into the future.
With many of us using email on a daily basis, in both a personal and professional capacity, we often never stop to revisit the basics. Here Killian O’Leary, Partner with Barden’s IT Practice, takes a moment to bring us back to the basics, when it comes to email in business, and takes a closer look at the benefits, the considerations and most importantly the learnings of email!
One of the most beneficial and relevant courses I have attended was on ‘Email Communication’. It got me thinking about the power of email and the impact it can have on the reader, and indeed your brand. It also got me to carefully consider every subsequent email I would send from my outbox.
“Recent surveys have found that emailing has caused tension, confusion, or other negative consequences for 64% of working professionals”.
“The majority of people (52%) who send a work-related email expect a reply within 12-24 hours, according to a new survey of 1,500 people by MailTime.com (an app that aims to organize and simplify emails), but 60% of people say they will wait two days to reply to their email”.
“The average office worker received circa 80 emails per day. With such a volume of mails, individual mails can be overlooked, which can obviously lead to challenges subsequently, especially when the sender is expecting a quick reply etc…”
So, as you can gather it’s important for us all to have a process in place which enables you to get back to everyone as –
1) It’s just the right thing to do; and
2) It’s never nice to ‘professionally ghosted’.
Prioritisation of emails is also something we all need to get better at.
In the age of GDPR and security, how we construct our emails is consistently under the microscope, so you need to get it ‘right first time’ – once you press ‘send’ it’s hard to reverse.
Three Key Considerations When Constructing Emails
There are essentially three key considerations when constructing emails:
- Make the connection.
- Make it relevant.
- Consider your brand – personalise the email.
A good email will have clarity, structure, relevancy, purpose, connection and impact.
Before sending you do need to listen to what is being said in your email and never send without double-checking everything. Step away and come back to it. If needs be, assume the role of the recipient and assess how the content, tone etc of the mail sits with them.
Perhaps if it’s a really important email, run it by a colleague to get an objective sense of your email. An effective email will get your point across but give the reader a positive experience. Getting that dynamic right is always a challenge.
Simple Rules to Follow
If you want to get your emails noticed and actioned…
- Don’t over-complicate the content of your email, get to the point early.
- The best emails are authentic and tell a story.
- Be conscious of how the content of the email will be received by the person reading it.
- 100% concentration when sending, don’t get distracted (most certainly a challenge these days!).
- Subject line: Make good use of this, make sure the email title accurately covers the subject matter entailed in the body of the email.
- Internal v External Emails: NEVER EVER mix up both. For instance, if you are talking about a client with someone internally, never forward such an email. Be conscious, very conscious, of the thread below, who is copied in and who isn’t.
- Beware of pre-filling addresses: You may have just messaged a ‘Brenda’ and now are emailing ‘Brendan’, the ‘Br’ pre-fills…and guess what…‘Brenda’ receives ‘Brendan’s’ email.
- Brand: Emails form part of your brand, so every email that goes out from your Outbox allows the recipient form an opinion about you.
- Proofread for spelling: This can’t be stressed enough. With spellcheck built into most (if not all) email software there are no excuses for spelling mistakes. Spacing is a given but again I’ve seen some poor examples coming into my inbox and it’s never a good look.
- Bullet points: These are always good when getting a message across and can give a quick high-level overview of the message you wish to convey.
“So, when is email the most appropriate form of communication? Would a meeting be best?”
The answer to this can be found by asking yourself ‘Who is your audience’?
People read emails differently and have different attention spans. Therefore, it’s vital that you know your audience well – you can then tailor your tone and style accordingly. If your audience is a new client compared to someone you have dealt with every day for the past number of years, the type of email and how it’s worded, structured etc. will differ greatly. When considering these two different audiences there are two approaches & styles at play here.
It’s never advisable to get involved in an ‘email battle’ with someone. It may be difficult, but you need to take a step back. Otherwise, it almost becomes like a ‘tennis game’ who can volley back the hardest? A phone call OR a meeting may work better at a certain juncture.
Client Intro Emails
If you are looking to get a response from a new client, and get a really clear concise message across via email, you first need to ask yourself –
- If I were a client receiving such an email, would I reply? would I engage?
- Have you put in a ‘hook’ that will ensure you get a response?
- Is email the best medium to ensure maximum impact?
- Have you displayed your industry knowledge in the content of the email?
- What outcome do I want from the email.
- How can I best strive for clarity & brevity in my writing.
Benefits of Email
Communicating by email…
- Is almost instantaneous.
- Reduces geographic and time zone barriers for businesses.
- Can help increase productivity and engagement.
- Enables businesses to market to targeted audiences.
- Saves on postage, shipping costs etc for businesses.
Internal Communications & Its Impact on Social Engagement & Talent retention
Companies today are best served by fully embracing ‘Internal Communications’. It is a way of effectively building a more productive, collaborative & engaged workforce.
The way you communicate to your employees can have a positive impact on the overall ‘employee experience’. So, in an era where talent retention is such a challenge, this is worth investing in.
Once you get your strategy right it can empower employees to make the right decisions in keeping with company values & goals. There is a common goal and a cohesive culture built up through effective internal communication strategies.
Employees need to feel like they belong, so mails need to be inclusive. Large volumes of emails can create noise & clutter, they can distract employees and overwhelm. Leadership teams need to have an awareness of these considerations.
Email is here to stay and once organised well can be one of the most effective forms of communication. So it’s worth educating ourselves as well as we can on the subject.
Having worked and trained with a number of international businesses, Killian moved into recruitment in 2011 and has held a number of leadership roles, both locally and nationally, since. Killian is a founding member of Barden’s IT recruitment practice, is a subject matter expert in Cyber Security (Cloud, Network, Infra, O/t) & Senior Tech careers, is a qualified and active career coach and advises CIOs and tech leadership teams on attracting and retaining world class talent. Get in touch with Killian at firstname.lastname@example.org.