A few tips that may help in getting your emails read

In a business world inundated with email as a main form of communication, it can be tricky at times to get a response.  The EMAIL Track is happening this week at OMS with lots of great insight on the latest best practices and I’d like to add my two cents.  I work in PR, and so beyond online marketing campaigns, I often find myself having to email someone I’ve never met, crossing my fingers that my subject line piqued their interest or that they will even open my email at all.   I’m in search of a reply – hoping to secure interest to attend an event, cover our brand, schedule an interview with the GM, etc.  In PR, and many realms of business, getting a response is crucial.

Knowing that inboxes are full and billions of emails are sent each day, how do your important emails rise above the noise?  Guided by a recent piece from Mashable – I wanted to share a few tips that may help increase the likelihood of your emails being read:

1. Do Your Homework and Get to Know Your Target

This part can be slightly time intensive – but will pay off in the long run.  If you’re pitching the media, read industry news and become familiar with their coverage areas.  News is an ongoing dialogue, and your company’s newsworthiness is essentially its ability to contribute to that dialogue and add fresh perspectives and angles.  The more you know about journalists’ specific interests, the better chance you have at offering them angles that are actually valuable to them.

Research the best way to contact them – is it through email, phone or maybe even Twitter? You might want to follow up an email with a phone call, notifying the person that you sent something important and timely – if you get the sense the person you’re contacting isn’t always available online.

2. Carefully Decide When to Hit Send

Timing is crucial. Headed into a weekend, it is probably not a great idea to send a business email on Friday at 6 p.m. as it will most likely be buried amongst the junk and spam that clutters an inbox over the weekend.

Per Mashable, research indicates that people like to read emails before work and around lunchtime. This means early morning, folks, like around 6:00/7:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. are the best times to click send.

Also, important to be aware of deadlines that may need to be met on the recipient’s end.

3. Write a No-Frills Subject Line

This one is simple: Your subject line should describe the content of your email.  Keep it brief. Keep it simple. Be straightforward.  And if there’s a call to action, include it.

No need to preface your subject with “EMERGENCY!” or “IMPORTANT,” which is more likely to annoy the person into deleting the message.  Anything that hints of spam is likely to be discarded before it is even opened.

4. Get to the Point

Be equally straightforward when writing the body of the email. Say who you are and what you want. Get right to the point and hook them with information that is timely and relevant for them specifically.  For information essential to the email, make it palatable by chunking it up into short paragraphs or bullet points.

Don’t overshare on details that would create too lengthy an email and appear daunting to read. As this is an introductory email to gauge interest, keep it short, knowing that this will hopefully kick-off additional exchanges and future emails. A good rule of thumb is keeping it to the Preview Pane.

If there is an acquaintance that you share in common who referred you/recommended you reach out, include a mention of this.  Just be sure that the shared acquaintance does in fact have a close relationship with the person you’re emailing.

Don’t forget to include your own contact information and the best times for the person to reach you. It’s also helpful to include a sort of deadline for when you would like to hear back by and if it’s not met, it’s a great excuse for a follow-up email or call.

5. Reflect Professionalism In Your Tone

This is probably obvious, but be mindful about the tone of your writing. Be professional and polite, but not overly solicitous. Avoid being verbose and exaggerated in hyperbole.

With the rise of acronyms and Internet slang (lol, omg, etc.), you might be tempted to drop that in. Don’t.  And steer clear of emoticons in the body of your email as well.

It is certainly okay to be conversational – you are not a robot.  And always, always, always, double check your spelling and grammar.

Hope this helps and good luck being heard and getting results!  I’d love to get your tips/thoughts on how you’ve had success getting your emails read.