Skip to main content

Five Elements of Effective Business Emails

Five Elements of Effective Business Emails

By Caroline Levchuck, Yahoo! HotJobs

Email took the place of the business letter a long time ago, and it takes a lot less effort to answer an email. So why does the response rate for emails seem to be declining?

Consider that in an age of information inundation, it's getting more and more difficult for anyone to answer every message in their inbox, even when it's important. You can make it easier on your recipients by making sure your business emails include these five essential elements.

A Concise, Direct Subject Line

Every email you send for business should have a succinct yet descriptive subject line. This will help recipients determine its importance. Avoid relying on the "Importance: High" flag as so many people overuse this feature that its impact has diminished.

A Proper Greeting

It's become common for people to eliminate greetings in emails altogether. However, a greeting can help people easily determine to whom a message is directed, especially as cc'ing and replying to all have become common.

That being said, avoid replying to all unless everyone on the email chain really needs to read your reply. The same goes for cc'ing too many people on a single email. Be selective with your information, as most folks are dealing with overloaded inboxes.

Proper Grammar, Correct Spelling

Lingo and abbreviations that originated in the realm of instant messaging and texting have made their way into email. Even if your coworkers and clients don't call you out on your use of such shortcuts, avoid using them. An email could get forwarded to another client or a supervisor who may be appalled at your seeming lack of written communication skills.

Only Essential Information

It's fine to be friendly and a bit familiar in business emails; however, try not to be too chatty. Put vital information as close to the beginning of your email as possible to ensure that your recipient actually reads it. If your messages run longer than a paragraph or two, they may not get read in their entirety.

A Clear Closing

End your email so that it's clear what you're expecting of the recipient and when. If you aren't specific, you probably won't get the response or action you need. If you want an opinion or permission, ask for it. If you need it by Tuesday, say so.

Finally, only use return receipts when sending a critical message that requires you to know when a message has been received and read; it's an invasive tool that could rub colleagues the wrong way. 

Education programs to fit your profession