The most effective way to reach a business professional is through mail. A letter is still your best bet in contacting, conversing and discussing business matters. However, with the new technology of the day, the format and delivery system of that letter is very different. Instead of a typed or handwritten note on paper, your letter is typed into a computer word processor. The mail is no longer delivered through a post office by travels directly to the inbox of the recipient through email. Email, by the way, is short for electronic mail.
As email is read via a computer screen, the format used in the actual composition of the letter differs somewhat from how letters used to be written. The changes are not drastic but do have an overall impact on the style and design of the average email. In this article, we will discuss and examine the way in which an email business letter can be constructed for maximum benefit. Believe it or not, there are just five steps required to write a business email.
Before we start…things to keep in mind
There are several challenges related to communication via email versus verbal conversation. The most obvious is that the written word does not carry inflections so your wording has to be precise. Non-verbal cues that would be present in a face-to-face meeting such as body language are also not part of an email. This means that the content of your letter – the words that make up your message – are far more important than they ever have been in such a setting.
Step 1 – The subject line
Because the majority of us with email just scan the subject lines and often weed out what appears to be junk mail based on that, you need to put serious thought into what yours will say. The subject line – a well written one – will determine if that email will be opened.
Two words will provide you with all the guidance you need in order to get the subject line right – informative and meaningful. This doesn’t mean that the subject line should be 25 words long but it has to be long enough to get across the intention of the correspondence.
The topic should be something that the person you are sending it to will understand. Along with this, clearly explain what the point of your email is which you can do once you’ve attracted their attention. It isn’t all that difficult once you figure it out and word it right.
Step 2 – The professional format
One thing that has not changed from a formal paper letter to an email is the basic format and structure. That means you still should address and close your email as you would a professional letter that was written for the same purpose as this one.
Use Mr. or Ms. appropriately and refrain from an overly casual introduction unless you are a close associate with the letter recipient. Do not skip this part. Even if you are unsure of who you are addressing your email to, be as formal as possible.
Step 3 – Stay on target
The body of your email is going to have a lot to do with whether or not your prime objective is met. Long and rambling content is most likely not going to be much help considering that most of your email is going to get skimmed over at best.
This means that you have to be very clear and precise in the way you present the topic of your letter. Short sentences with one to two sentence paragraphs are a good start. Bullet points help hammer home your message without a lot of extra words.
If you think your email is far too short, it may actually be the perfect length. You have to be able to say what you are trying to say in as few words as possible and still be understood. It takes a bit of practice but is easy to master once you get the hang of it.
Step 4 – Review before sending
The last thing you want to have happened is to send an email to a business professional that happens to contain several typos. So, you can easily avoid this by doing three things. Run your finished letter through the spelling and grammar correction tool on your computer.
Second, give it a complete proofreading after scanning for other errors. Read your email aloud so that you can hear how it actually sounds. If you need to make any corrections in a sentence or paragraph structure, now is the time to do that before sending.
Get an expert advice on how to make your writing better and to help catch possible mistakes. There’s a ton of various writing services that might help you review and edit your letter.
Step 5 – Use the correct address
As obvious as this may seem, be sure that the business letter you are sending is actually going to the recipient’s business email address. In other words, if you have more than one address for this person, refrain from sending it to all of them or they will be ignored.
There is something very likely connected to the shorter attention span we have and the internet. It has forced us to gather information faster and understand it quicker. This has also impacted communication through email. The letters have to have an attention-grabbing subject line that relates to the recipient and the topic to be presented.
The body of the email has to be shorter than a typical handwritten business letter in order to get the points across quickly. However, the format still has to be formal and contain correct salutations and parting words. The body also should not contain any glaring mistakes in grammar or spelling in order to be taken seriously as a business letter.
You could say we have come a long way since the old-fashioned hand written letters that were delivered by pony express just over a century ago. However, as far as we have come, there are still parts of a business letter that still remind us of those days. At least nowadays you can tap out a letter in just five steps in order to get your message across to someone else.