How to write engaging emails
Sending emails is one of the most useful tools for stakeholder engagement, but sometimes getting stakeholders to read and respond to emails can be a challenge.
What can you do to ensure you are getting the best engagement through your emails?
In this article, we’ll look at some of the strategies we’ve picked up over the many years in the engagement field and will outline what you can do to write clear, compelling and successful emails.
What Do You Want?
SET CLEAR GOALS
Before you start pounding the keyboard, you need to be clear about what you want. What result are you looking for?
Sounds obvious I know, but how many emails have you received that waffle on with 2, 3, sometimes 4 different points?
Before you draft your email, choose a simple goal that you want to achieve. And simple is key. You want the reader to know exactly what you want of them.
Take the examples below:
An email asking for opinions with regards to changes to pedestrian walkways on Market St.
An email advising the role Council plays in updating the community, asking for opinions with regards to changes to pedestrian walkways on Market St, and inviting members of the community to a function on road safety.
The first email has a clear goal. It’s simple and to the point. Give us your feedback.
The second email is a bit muddled. The sender packs in a lot of information giving the recipient too many options which may lead to the reader performing only one – or none – of the desired outcomes.
What is the main purpose of your email? If it’s to get feedback on a topic, then you shouldn’t give the reader any other option.
MEANINGFUL SUBJECT LINES
47% of email recipients will decide if they want to open your email based on the subject line.
You can write the most amazing email – concise, well-organised, tone-appropriate with a clear call to action. But none of that matters if the recipient doesn’t open it.
You have to really sell your message, grab their attention, make them HAVE to open your email based on that one sentence.
To do this, you can use the CHARM system:
- Curiosity – By nature, we are curious beings. Capitalise on your stakeholder’s interest. Give them details of your email but get them to open it for more. Also, ask questions. Get people thinking and wanting to know more.
- Humour – Be inventive. Use words and ideas in a way to create wit. People are more inclined to open your email if it puts a smile on their face.
- Alluring – Get a better open rate with enticing subject matter. Use powerful messages, or special offers to coax them into opening your email. If you have something to offer – i.e. free resources, tickets to a festival, etc. – be sure to lead with that in your subject line.
- Relevance – Ensure the reader wants or needs to know about your topic. Use subject lines that relate to them. i.e. If you’re writing an email about pedestrian walkways on Market St, you might simply try: “Changes to Market St – New Walkways”
- Make it personal – Familiarity is key. Cater your content towards the individual. Use the stakeholder’s name, or other personal info in the subject line (i.e. street address, suburb etc.)
My last little tip is to keep it short and sweet. According to research conducted by ShowMeLeads, subject lines with between six and ten words generate an open rate of 21%. Considerably better than when you use longer sentences.
So, be short, concise, and remember to CHARM.
STRUCTURE IS KEY
A lot of engagement professions forget to structure their emails, and in some cases don’t think they need to be structured at all.
This would be a mistake.
Whether you’re writing a quick response to a colleague, following up with a stakeholder, or contacting someone for the first time, your email should have a beginning, middle and end.
This is where you greet your stakeholder and, if need be, introduce yourself. It’s also the time to build rapport with your reader. An opportunity to establish mutual trust, friendship and affinity with them.
The body of your email should contain all the information your stakeholder needs to take whatever action you want them to make.
You need to provide all the contextual information, details or data in a way that is easy to read.
Using bullet points is always an effective way to convey your data.
Conclusion, or Call to Action
Not to be confused with the conclusions of essays, where you summarise what you’ve already discussed, this is where you wrap up with your call to action.
If you want to organise a meeting, this is where you’d provide a suggested date and time. If you need them to provide their thoughts about a project, you can outline exactly what questions you need to be answered and by when.
Without a call to action, you might as well not bother writing an email.
Too Much of a Good Thing
DON’T OVER COMMUNICATE
How frustrating is it when you receive unsolicited emails from the same person or organisation every day? Sure, you may have subscribed to, or accepted to receive correspondence, but not every day!
On average, office workers receive 121 emails each day. That’s one email every 4 minutes…
So, you need to be thoughtful when engaging with your stakeholders via email.
If you think there may be the potential for a back and forth correspondence, with stakeholders asking questions etc., then it might be best to pick up the phone and talk to them directly. Bad news, for example, is always best delivered in person.
Another thing to be wary of is security. What information are you providing? What if your email was published on the internet or in the media?
Always ask yourself if it’s really necessary for you to email them, and when in doubt, pick up the phone.
Hitting “Send” Prematurely
PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD
There is nothing worse than sending an email with grammatical errors.
Your emails are a reflection of you and the organisation you represent. Remember, first impressions are hard, if not, impossible to shake. So, it is vital that you leave a great impression.
Proofread your content. And when you’re done proofreading, proofread again.
This is also a good time to ‘cut the fat’. People are more likely to read short, well-structured emails that get to the point and don’t waffle on.
So, while re-reading the content of your email, take out anything that doesn’t benefit your goal.
A good free tool you can use to assist your writing skills is Grammarly.
OTHER FORMS OF ENGAGEMENT
There are many methods to get your message heard – email, phone calls, face-to-face. But text messaging has become one of the most popular forms of communication and is rarely utilised in stakeholder engagement.
Check out our previous blog STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT WITH SMS
If you’d like more information on stakeholder engagement, email tactics, or how to use SMS capabilities with Darzin, please contact us.