Three secrets to effective emails

What is an effective email?

One that achieves its purpose.

For example, if you wanted the recipient to take some action and after reading that email, the recipient takes that action, then we might classify that email as effective. In the same way, you wanted the recipient to take some action but after reading that email, the recipient DOES NOT take that action, we might classify that email as not-so-effective email.

It may seem like the components of an effective email therefore will be:

  • a compelling headline: something that will make the recipient open the email.
  • scannable email body: so that the recipient can quickly scan the email in his or her mobile device.
  • clear set of expectations: from the recipient
  • a clear call to action: so that the recipient knows what is expected
  • clear timeline: by when should the task be completed

While the above framework might work great in theory, this is a necessary but not a sufficient condition.

Let us see a few other secrets that will make your emails more effective. I have picked three important ones as starters but the below list is in no way complete.

1. Strong relationships open hearts:

I have done many informal surveys on what makes people open emails. Who you are to them ranks way HIGHER than whatever email headline you will use. Solid relationships with the recipients trump your content marketing smartness because they operate at the heart level. A badly written email from someone very close has higher importance than a very well written email from someone you don’t know.

2. The big picture enhances clarity:

You can ask the recipient to do something without giving details about why you need him or her to do it. OR, you could explain the big picture that will provide the “why” behind the “what” that you are asking the person to do. The latter approach takes more of your time but creates more meaning about the task at hand for the recipient. Higher meaning means more effectiveness, period.

3. Alignment boosts motivation:

If you can genuinely align the task at hand with the recipient’s higher purpose in life, the motivation to act goes up significantly. While knowing the big picture enhances clarity and provides meaning at work, knowing how the task aligns with the recipient’s purpose in life will provide meaning in his or her life. The more meaningful personally, higher the motivation to act.

As you can see, the three items that are highlighted have nothing to do with the art and craft of “writing” the email. They go beyond the email and touch upon your relationship, your genuine caring about his or her concerns and the extra time you took to explain the big picture.

In summary, if you want to increase effectiveness of your emails, take time to build deep relationships with the recipients and genuinely care for their concerns. In other words, whenever possible, try to create new opportunities and possibilities in place of making requests.

Photo courtesy: neilpomerleau on flickr.