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6 ways to make your emails stand out

Posted: February 23, 2016 10:29 a.m.
Updated: February 23, 2016 10:29 a.m.
Sam Turner/

Don't ignore etiquette and efficiency in your emails. Email behaviors can either bring your career to new heights, or hold you back.

If you feel like you spend all day at work reponding to emails, you might not be far off.

According to a 2012 study by McKinsey Global Institute, workers spend, on average, 28 percent of their workweek reading, writing and responding to emails, reports the Washington Post.

Indeed, communicating through email is an integral part of almost every workplace. People devote hours of time and build their careers on email.

So here's a scary thought: what if your emails are being ignored?

According to Fortune, the average email user receives 147 emails per day and deletes almost half of them. Of those that aren't deleted, many go unopened, unread, or unresponded.

Because email is so indispensable, it's important to do it right. Here are some tips from around the Web to make you a more effective emailer:

Carefully craft your subject line

If you're reading this, you probably saw the headline before clicking on this story. Hopefully you saw some value in the headline and clicked to find out more.

Much like a news headline, the email subject line is the first contact you have with your recipient — and it may be the last contact if they don't think the email is worth their time.

In order to give subject lines their due importance, Business Insider recommends writing the subject line first.

If you don't, the subject may sound like an after thought or be forgotten all together. Either way, it will not contain the essence of your email as it ought to.

Business Insider also says you should keep subject lines short and focused, put the most important words at the beginning, and be specific about the content of the email.

Don't send useless emails

This doesn't just mean cat videos, dumb jokes and other distractions.

Some say that internal company emails are sent too often and to too many people. Workers often waste time reading through emails that have no relevance to them or their work. Even if the emails are related, the volume is often too high.

Shayne Hughes, CEO of Learning as Leadership, told Forbes about an experiment where he banned all internal emails in his office for a week.

"We clog one another’s e-mail systems and to-do lists with a mishmash of crucial topics and trivial information and then waste hours of every day slogging through a hundred useless e-mails to ensure we don’t look irresponsible by missing the two or three important ones," said Hughes.

Hughes saw that internal email was limiting his company's potential through lazy communication and addictive, distracting behaviors. The experiment helped Hughes see when email is most effective and when it's a waste of time.

He found that delegating clear administrative tasks, transmitting attachments and documenting or summarizing a completed conversation were all appropriate occasions for internal emails.

Watch your tone

According to a new survey by Boomerang, there's a sweet spot for email tonality that's neither "too positive" nor "too negative," reports the Atlantic.

Emails with too many exclamation points, too much aggression or too much enthusiasm are less likely to get a response.

The survey also found that neutral tones can be just as bad. Optimally, an email should be "slightly positive" or "slightly negative" in tone, reports the Atlantic.

You should also be careful about your emails sending a message that you didn't intend.

"Since people can't hear our tone of voice, we have to remember that all they have is the written word," etiquette expert Diane Gottsman told Business Insider. "The writer needs to make sure that they are writing for the reader to understand."

Popular email server Mail Chimp recommends performing a "human check" by reading your emails out loud before sending them. You may be surprised at how abrupt — or conversely, flamboyant — your email sounds.

And besides checking flow and tone, reading out loud should help you catch any errors or typos, which leads us to …

Pay attention to details

Nothing makes an email fall flat like spelling the recipient's name wrong.

This one may seem obvious, but since you likely send dozens of emails each day, it's easy to get carried away and let errors slip into your writing.

"Every single word you speak or type is about forming an impression and building your brand," email etiquette expert Judith Kallos told Business Insider.

Consistent errors can tarnish your professional credibility and ultimately have the opposite effect you want your emails to have.

Timing

Did you know that sending emails at certain times of day can increase your chances of getting a response?

According to a survey of 5 million emails by email management service Baydin, emails sent early in the morning are more likely to be read than those sent later in the day, reports Fortune.

The best times for sending emails is either 6 a.m. or right after lunch.

“If you need to ask someone to do something, you’re more likely to get what you want after their blood sugar is up,” Baydin's CEO Alex Moore told Fortune.

Find the right length

If an email is too long it won't get read. If it's too short it sounds terse.

Like tone, you have to find the sweet spot on email length if you want to elicit a response.

Though email length may vary somewhat based on your intent, the Boomerang survey shows that the best length is between 50 and 125 words, reports the Atlantic.

There has been some motion, however, to change the culture of emailing to make shorter emails more popular.

CEOs of some of the world's most powerful companies, including Jeff Bezos and the late Steve Jobs, are known for sending notoriously short emails, reports the Huffington Post.

The argument for short emails is that it saves everybody's time.

One man has even started a movement to limit emails to five sentences or fewer, reports HuffPost. Mike Davidson created the "five.sentenc.es" movement to contribute to a culture of short emails.

"If you just have a universal policy, then there's nothing to get offended by," Davidson told HuffPost.

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