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5 Tips for Writing an Effective Business Email


Updated September 12, 2022 – It’s true; email is becoming outdated with the general population. But as a workplace tool, it remains a powerful and reliable way to communicate online or in-house. This piece looks at the best 5 tips and tricks on how to write an effective business email.

Too many business messages go unread, get ignored, or deleted when they arrive at the inbox. Learning how to write in a way that compels people to read is a critical skill. It means less chasing up, resending messages, frustration, and miscommunication. And the first impression begins with those first few words.

One of the main issues with the written word is lost emotions and expressions. You know what you mean, but getting that across to the recipient takes skill. But it can be the difference between successful and failed communication.

Coming up are tried and tested professional email writing tips. It’s an essential read if you want others to take notice of your in-house or external messages. You don’t need special teachers, exams, or literature grades to be adept at business messaging, either. Still, there are definite DOS and DON’TS, and that’s what this handy guide covers.

#1 Write a Captivating Subject Line

The first of our email writing tips for business focuses on the top part of your message, the subject line. The workplace is a busy environment, and people scan their inboxes quickly. That’s why first impressions are so critical. Messages with weak or missing subjects are the lowest priority, and recipients tend to ignore or delete them.

How your subject line reads depends on the type of business email. The subjects of in-house messages are more accessible to write than those used for marketing campaigns.

7 Quick Tips for Learning Email Subject Lines

Here are 7 tips for writing a captivating subject line. Which ones to use depends on the audience, so think carefully about who your recipient is:

  1. Create it last. It’s easier to summarize content after you write it
  2. Keep it short ≤ 50 characters is ideal for mobile devices
  3. Use clear, concise language (it’s just a message, not an exam)
  4. Ask a question or emphasize a little urgency
  5. Don’t give everything away to arouse a little curiosity
  6. Don’t overdo it, e.g., USING ALL CAPS or fancy characters
  7. Be honest, don’t deceive the reader with a misleading subject line

Tip #7 is vital to keep eyeballs fixed on the main message. For example, don’t promise a free course of online studying in the subject line if learning is not free.

Business email tip: Use highly relevant keywords in your subject lines. This approach makes business emails easier to search for later if necessary.

#2 Use Concise Language (Subjects & Body)

The general school of thought is to use clear, concise language. It’s one of the best tips for writing business emails, as many recipients now use mobile devices. A message with unnecessarily long words and unfamiliar jargon is easy to ignore. Keep in mind that no recipient is ever going to complain that your email is too easy to read.

#3 Make Your Email Scannable for Readers

One can easily find examples of this point in modern marketing. Let’s say a business runs an email campaign for college students to buy university essays. Essay assistance is a much sought-after online help service for college-level learners today. But marketing emails constantly bombard university students. And many of those are studying how to balance part-time jobs with course work and campus duties.

Emails that make the grades for school recipients are the ones that are easy to scan. Scannable messages help readers jump quickly to the content that interests them.

7 Ways to Make Your Business Emails Scannable

University students wear many hats as they juggle their way through on-campus and online studying. They don’t have the time or patience to read lengthy, hard-to-read messages between course studies.

Start studying and practicing these 7 scanability tips to improve your business emails:

  1. Create plenty of white space by using short paragraphs
  2. Avoid fancy fonts. Use those easiest on the eyes, e.g., Courier, Verdana
  3. Break the content up using short bolded, Title Case Headlines Like This
  4. Use short bulleted and numbered lists when appropriate
  5. Limit one idea to a single paragraph
  6. Bold keywords and sentences to draw attention to them
  7. Wrap up with a summary and a call-to-action if needed

This writing style works for most text, e.g., emails, school essays, how-to guides, etc. Also, people are more inclined to share engaging, easy-to-read, scannable content. That could be around school, the university campus, or anywhere else the campaign targets.

#4 Address the Recipient Appropriately

It’s never a good idea to use overly casual language in business email communication. Likewise, avoid slang terms or emojis. Even if you’re friends with the person, business emails get forwarded and read by others in professional environments. Instead, use a formal salutation and address the recipient using a polite, official tone.

#5 Keep it Simple

Try to keep messages simple. There are no teachers, exams, grades, or online studying to bog you down. It’s just a case of using straightforward language, proper formatting, and knowing your audience… that’s it. Most business emails should be easy to read, quick to scan, as short as possible, and address the subject line directly.

It’s okay to leave the reader wanting to know more, as it encourages a response. But it’s not okay to mislead in email promotional campaigns. For example, one should not market professional teachers if you use amateur tutors for a training course. In-house or B2B emails are more about communication than sales, but the principles are similar.

Lastly, never send any business email without proofreading it first.

Closing Comments

Although email is less and less present in our daily non-professional communication as people increasingly use social media and text apps such as WhatsApp to communicate in the workplace and place of business, it is still very much the main avenue of communication. Mastering the skills of effective email communication is paramount, and we hope this article will help you on your path. For more email-related advice, please check out our email section here, and happy emailing! 




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By Susan Barlow

Dr. Susan Barlow is retired from academia after teaching business administration, project management, and business writing courses for over 20 years.

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