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Email has become an indispensable tool for business communication in today’s digital age. However, crafting effective emails that get your message across and elicit the desired response can be challenging. This article provides some practical tips and psychological insights to help you master your email game.

I’m pretty sure it’s no surprise that being careful with your words in an email can be the difference between getting a sale or not. Let’s get the basic tips out the way first:

1. Keep the subject line short and use a keyword they can search for later. Something like “website quote” is ideal.

2. Say “Hi” or “Hello” like you would in a conversation. In today’s world, would you ever start a conversation with “Dear”? Keep that for the more formal, less positive relationship-type emails.

3. Double-check your email for spelling and grammar errors. I recommend Grammarly’s free online checker. In my opinion (unless you know the person), spelling errors or bad grammar have a negative effect—and if you want what you’re asking for, it’s a step backward rather than forward.

4. Most emails end with “Kind regards,” or “Sincerely,”. But it’s the same as how you start an email, is it how you would end a conversation? My usual go-to is “Thanks”. But if you have the time and would like to have your email remembered, save some goodies like this:

  • Eager to know what you think.
  • I look forward to hearing back from you.
  • May your Monday be full of coffee.
  • Are you still reading this?
  • Congrats on reading this whole email.
  • Hakuna Matata!
  • Tag, you’re it.
  • Stay awesome.

5. Use a call-to-action – what is the next step? Are they getting back to you by the end of the week, are you contacting them by phone on Friday? Simply write “I’ll leave the ball in your court” if the next action is up to them.

6. This one can be controversial, but I think it’s rude when someone uses CAPITAL LETTERS. I feel like I’m being told off; some will interpret it as shouting. If that’s what you’re doing, type away.

7. Emojis. This is more about you and your relationship with the person you’re sending to. If I received an email full of emojis, it feels childish and less professional. However, when I need to answer a question or get to the point and want to convey I’m not grumpy, I’ll often finish with a smiley face 😊

8. If it’s urgent, don’t send an email; phone them.

9. The big one, the “Reply All” button, is only there if what you share is important to everyone. If only a couple of people, put in their email addresses. It negatively affects you when you get included in an email string that means nothing to you—it’s a time waster, which translates into people not respecting your time.

The subtle messages conveyed through our email actions, which we might not think twice about, could unconsciously influence how others perceive us. This is especially important to consider when you are trying to pitch your product or services to someone.

The psychology of email phrases

These tips usually apply when using email to sell, such as when sending a proposal or quote to a potential customer.

Social proof is big because if you say you’re good, you could be lying. Conversely, if a third party says you’re good, why would they lie? Including a short testimonial at the bottom of your email could make the difference.

Confident language is a matter of those little words that slip in here and there. For example, the word “just” can minimise the importance of your message. Instead of “Just following up…” say “Following up on our previous discussion…” Removing “just” will add more gravity to your words and make you sound more excited.

There are arguments for not using some terms anymore, “Following up” being one of them. Here are some more and why you shouldn’t use them.

  • “I hope you’re well.” It’s a hollow formality, and I’m guilty of using it to say something other than diving right into the purpose of the email. It’s just that, a filler. So get straight to the point, or at least make it more personal because you know them.
  • “I wanted to reach out…” Well, duh, that’s obvious from the simple fact that they are receiving an email.
  • “Let me know if you have any questions.” This puts the work on the reader. Try instead, “I’ll call you in a couple of days to see if you have any questions, or feel free to call me if you need to know before then.”

Accidental negative language like “Don’t hesitate to contact me.” While meant to encourage the reader to contact you, the phrase can make them feel like they’re imposing. For some reason, in our subconscious, the word “don’t” is louder than the rest of the sentence. Instead, try “Feel free to call me anytime to discuss this further.”

Another example is “No problem.” Often, when someone thanks us, we respond with these words. But it suggests that their request could have been a problem in the first place.

“As I mentioned before…” can make the reader feel like you’re repeating yourself (which you may well be). Instead, it would be better to summarise your previous points briefly without drawing attention to the repetition.

It’s not just about what you say, but how you say it. Over the last few years, I’ve learned the preferred methods of communication within my team, particularly among younger people.

Younger people prefer messaging over phone calls

I have found that people younger than me prefer email rather than phone when dealing with clients. At first, I thought it was about avoiding confrontation. While that might also be true, there are other rather interesting reasons.

  • Flexibility: communicating on their own schedule doesn’t require an immediate response.
  • Written record: referring to important details, decisions, or action items is easier.
  • Clarity: the message can be crafted to express thoughts or explain details clearly.
  • Multitasking: responding to messages while working on other tasks without the interruption of a phone call.
  • Sharing: email makes it easy to share and collaborate.
  • Preference: growing up in a digital age, written form is the norm (think direct messaging and social media).

Phone calls still need to exist, especially for more complex or sensitive discussions. Still, there are many positives to allowing email to be a common form of communication within a business.

Combining practical tips with psychological insights empowers readers to communicate more effectively and build stronger relationships.

How you make someone feel, even in a business context, is often a more powerful determining factor in decision-making than purely financial considerations. Yet, this fact is frequently overlooked or underestimated.

Now for my sign-off…

Happy emailing!