Ahh, email. We love it and we hate it. It can make or break a sale and be the lifeline of communication for small business. Here’s a key tip for your success with email — get to the point right away if you want your email to be read. A new survey reveals that when the message isn’t clear at the beginning, busy readers might skip or delete your e-mail without reading it. Oops… Now that would be bad for business.
Nearly all of the 125 respondents to a recent survey on the use of e-mail, conducted by business writing specialists at Write It Well, reported that e-mail is extremely important to their jobs. But the messages they read first are those that are clear and easy to understand – more than 85% sometimes or frequently skip over or delete a message without reading it because the main point isn’t clear right away. I bet you’ve done that too.
Survey respondents also felt that their own e-mail wasn’t as effective as it could be. When asked whether their e-mail gets the results they want, only 26% answered “almost always.” That finding was no surprise to Janis Fisher Chan, author of E-Mail: A Write It Well Guide–How to Write and Manage E-Mail in the Workplace
“Most people have clear standards for what constitutes a good business e-mail,” says Chan. As a business writing instructor for more than 25 years, she is well aware that people who can easily reel off the criteria for a “good” or a “poor” e-mail still have trouble making sure that the e-mail they send meets those criteria.
Another finding points to the importance of paying attention to grammar, punctuation, and spelling when writing e-mail. Nearly 90% of the respondents reported that the way an e-mail is written affects their image of both the writer and the organization. Although some felt that minor errors in e-mail from colleagues might be acceptable, this comment was far more typical: “E-mails with typos or mistakes in grammar, punctuation or spelling give me a sense that the person doing the writing may not be competent in other areas"?¦.Such errors tell me the person does not care about the quality of his or her work.”
Your tone and subject matter in an e-mail count too. One-third of the respondents have sent e-mail that offended or upset someone, primarily because their message was misunderstood. Nearly twice as many – more than 60% – have been offended or upset by e-mail they received. Learn more about the survey results at www.writeitwell.com