I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s because we’ve become used to using 140 characters thanks to Twitter, but a lot of people are out here writing terrible emails. Everyone from bloggers to PR “professionals”. It’s bad. There are few things more frustrating than a poorly written email. And to be honest, that is solely the motivation behind this post.
I write everyday. Mostly because I’m a blogger and freelance writer and at the very least, I tweet throughout the day. But just because we live in a social media focused society isn’t excuse enough to not sound like a respectable human being via email.
The whole point of email - for the most part - is to communicate quickly and effectively. Those two points are consistently overlooked. I’ve noticed that when someone does send me a bad email it’s
1. way too long
2. has no point.
So, I’m going to help you become an email rock star. Basically, when you write emails, people will look forward to them and even, REPLY TO IT.
A lot of times, when we email folks, we’re writing them to make contact with them for the first time, get them interested in checking out our blog, trying our product or even work with us. That’s a lot of pressure…if you overthink it. Keep dialogue short and sweet, genuine and get straight to the point. The average person gets about 25 (non-spam) emails a day. Make it worth their while.
Listen, when you’re sending an email, I get it. You want to say everything. But, please don’t. Especially if you’re emailing someone for the first time. Keep emails anywhere between 3 to 5 sentences. Anything else is torture, cruel and unusual punishment and if you ask me, just totally uncalled for. Here’s an example of an email I send out when inquiring for freelance writing work:
I’m such a fan of [Your-Website’s-Name] and I especially loved [A-Specific-Article-Title]. I’m a freelance style writer based in Atlanta and was interested in writing [Type-Of-Specific-Niche-Content] for your site. Are there any freelance opportunities available?
Hope The-Specific-Day-Of-The-Week is being good to you!
Now, if you’re trying to pitch or inform me about something specific, 5 to 7 sentences is appropriate. But if I open an email and see that it’s paragraphs long AND you’re not a contact I’ve exchanged email with before, I will usually always delete it. It’s just too much and I don’t have the time. And with most people opening 25 emails a day and answering emails via mobile, keeping it short makes it easy to read.
Even with an email being 3 to 7 sentences long, depending on how long the sentences are, it can still get a bit lengthy. Break up your sentences so your email isn’t some overwhelming paragraph. Also, look over your sentences and edit them to be shorter and have more clarity. And try your best not to repeat the same info in various sentences. Here’s an example of a not so great email a brand sent me:
I wanted to take a moment and introduce myself and my company. I am VP for an Atlanta based company known as [redacted] and we have created something very unique. We provide an ever-changing line of luxury exotic leather handbags. Our Atlanta designer has taken a totally unique approach to making the new version of American made luxury products. Everyone of our bags are handmade and produced right here in the United States. Our products have a unique price point coming in way under most other exotic leather handbags but delivering superior quality. Please take a look at the images I have attached and our website [redacted].
And this is how their email could’ve been better:
Afternoon, Mattie -
Wanted to take a moment to introduce you to The-Name-Of-the-Company. We have created something really special with our line of American made luxury exotic leather handbags. Our products are superior quality with a great price point.
We’d love you to take a look at the collection for a possible collaboration on your site. Let us know what you think. You can view the collection here:
Thanks for giving Our-Company-Name a chance!
Their-Name Their-Title Link-To-Their-Company-Website
Not only did I break the email down and not repeat the same points in different sentences but I got specific. Which takes us to my next point…
What is the point of sending this email?!
That is the question you should always ask yourself before sending an email. So important. And if you can’t answer that question, you should not be sending an email. In the email above, the company sent me an email about their handbag line, but for what? Did they want a feature? Did they want to collaborate on a post? They never clearly stated the point of the email. EVER. Major mistake.
I know many times, we email people for the first time and we want to fluff up the email with compliments and small talk. There’s nothing wrong with a compliment if it’s short, sweet and doesn’t take up more than a sentence. That’s it. Keep the email going and most importantly, direct. I have no problem checking out someone’s clothing line, mixtape or whatever, but there has to be a purpose. And save small talk for in person interaction.
Another huge mistake people make when sending emails - especially PR pros and brands when reaching out to a blogger - is that they don’t use a name. I will be 1000% honest here. IF YOU DO NOT USE MY NAME IN AN EMAIL I NEVER READ IT. Not 25% of the time. Not 10%. NEVER.
A few reasons why. My email address is my name at my blog URL. So by default you know my name. I mean, after all, the name of my blog is MY FIRST AND LAST NAME. And if you want me to take time out to correspond with you, check out your client’s collection or possibly collaborate together, at the very least I expect you to know and use my name. And with that being said, it needs to be spelled correctly.
Also, DO NOT email anyone and address them with “hey, doll” or “hi, boo” or even, “hey, girl”. It’s not professional and in poor taste.
Emails also have to be relevant. If I’m a style blogger who focuses mostly on personal style and beauty, you sending me an email to feature your client’s new home decor line isn’t just irrelevant to me, but also to your client. If I’m a photography blogger, reaching out to me to speak on a panel about makeup is probably not smart. Do your research and make sure the people you’re reaching out to want to hear about the opportunity or idea you’re emailing them about.
Also, mention to people that you’re interested in them by mentioning their blog or company name and that you’re really into something specific they did as of late. Nothing makes me more excited than to respond to someone's email that’s excited about me. When you make an email personal while relevant people always respond positively.
If the reason you’re emailing someone can’t fully be expressed in a short and concise email without getting terribly lengthy, then introduce yourself and why you would like to chat with them.
And don’t be vague.
Be specific enough that the person can opt out if need be. So reaching out to someone for a “great opportunity” is just not enough. Now, if you mention that the call will be about a “great hosting opportunity” then the person can prep themselves for what the call or in person meeting will be about.
For the most part, a call is more appropriate than in person meeting for the sake of time.
Always, meaning always. Quick story: my sister, Maya, is my best friend. We talk about everything from business to how nerdy our parents are in about 3 different phone calls a day EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I was thinking about doing a new feature series on my previous blog and wanted her to be the first person I featured. Here’s the email I sent her:
It's Mattie, from Mattieologie.com. I've been such a fan of yours especially in the last year with all the great business advice posts you've written on MayaElious.com. I especially love the post you wrote on working smart. It changed the way I approached my work. Your business, BRNDWCH, is also so impressive.
Now that I've buttered you up, I would be so honored if I could feature you on Mattieologie in a #LWYL - Live What You Love feature. Nothing crazy, just 8 short questions on who you are, what you do and how you incorporate what you love on a daily basis.
If you're interested, the questions are the following:
Looking to post this on Thursday, February 12, so if you could get these back to me by Sunday, February 8 with 3 lifestyle-esque photos of you + your social media links, that would be great.
Fingers crossed, you're interested in being featured. I've always admired the kind of woman you are. You know, the type of woman who lives what she loves.
Hope Monday is being good to you!
This is the email I sent my sister who I speak to every single day. I did not address her “Hey, sis.” I had the nerve to email her using her name. And I wasn’t casual in my approach either. You know why? Because I take her seriously. And I wanted her response to be professional & serious.
If I would have been casual about the situation, she would’ve gotten back to me whenever. I also value her as a businesswoman and I showed her that by the way I emailed her. The email was short, detailed, personal & relevant. The makings of an amazing email.
Last but not least, if an email is going to be short and sweet then there is no room for spelling or grammatical errors. One thing I always do before sending an important email is send it to my “go-to” crew. Those are the handful of individuals who I respect & trust professionally to read over my emails to ensure I don’t have any spelling errors and let me know if I can make it better.
Google the person’s name if you’re not sure how it’s spelled. It’s worth taking that extra 30 seconds. Think about how you feel every time someone spells your name wrong. It’s never a good feeling, right?
Do the appropriate research and triple check for spelling and grammar errors. And if you can make your email good versus great, then do it. It’s all about details with email. Once you pay close attention to them, you’ll notice people will start responding to you like never before.