3 More Rules for Better Email

Following last week’s article by Dave Griffin on his rules for better email, I’m indebted to reader Glenn Pickett of Aardvark Action Marketing for suggesting these additional points (below). If you’d like to contribute an article of your own, do get in touch.

11. PUT SEPARATE SUBJECTS IN SEPARATE EMAILS
– More chance of a complete reply to a given subject;
– No-one likes to read a long email, so they often don’t read everything;
(even if they do read it all, they often forget to reply to part of it)
– Each subject can be passed to interested parties without unrelated info;
– Quick replies on what can be answered without a delay finding an answer to everything;
– The title (subject line) is pertinent;
– You can find the subject easily some time later.

12. USE BULLET POINTS WHERE POSSIBLE
– Keep the bullets to a single line;
(your brain absorbs 1 line instantly… but not 1.5, 2, 3 lines)
– It helps you organize your thoughts, so you express more clearly;
– Understanding is greater;
– Less resistance to wanting to read the content.
(compare with this!)
– Keep the bullets to a single line. Your brain absorbs 1 line instantly… but not 1.5, 2, 3 lines. It helps you organize your thoughts, so you express more clearly. Understanding is greater. Less resistance to wanting to read the content.

13. USE BOLD OR COLOUR AND OTHER TEXT TOOLS, BUT SPARINGLY
– If you do need to go into a long explanation then make the key words stand out of the block of text by using bold or colour or both bold and colour;
– Use these effects sparingly or you end up with a mesmerizing page;
– Italics can be used but best to limit their use to “Quoted statements or dialogue” as it can be tiring;
– EXCESSIVE USE OF CAPITALS IS REALLY ANNOYING AND IS ACTUALLY HARDER TO READ THAN conventional lower-case text with initial capitals;
– Sans serif fonts (Arial, Tahoma, Verdana…) are easier to read on screen than fonts with serifs like Times New Roman.

Editor’s note: only use decorative emphasis, as in point 13, if you’re sure that the recipient can read and display HTML emails. It’s pretty likely nowadays, but not a given. If you’ve got any further points to add, do add them in the comments section on the website!

Discussion

  1. Wendy Bourne

    Don’t use silly backgrounds, such as flowered wallpaper or the one that looks like a notepad. It’s fine for family e-mails, but (in my opinion anyway) looks quite unprofessional on business e-mails. And I’m sure that your Corporate Marketing guidelines controller won’t like it either!

    Have a footer – we get a number of e-mails from customers asking for quotes who don’t have ANY company information in their e-mail. If they had a footer, they wouldn’t even need to think about adding this info. And it’s difficult to quote if you don’t even know what country they are in…

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