In the business world, "You've Got Mail" has turned into a curse. Fact is, the average business user spends an average of over two hours a day just dealing with email! If you have an urgent issue requiring an immediate response, how do you get your colleague, the average business user, to pay attention and take action?
Here's a typical scenario: You are sending an urgent e-mail to a colleague, Notina Hurry. Only Notina knows the location of a budget file you need desperately. You called her, but her phone is tied up. How do you get your important e-mail read, and then responded to as quickly as possible?
Write a headline in the subject area that will grab your colleague's attention. You need to get the recipient to notice and WANT to open your e-mail. According to the experts, you have to make it specific enough to be intriguing but vague enough to provoke curiosity. And, it's a real advantage if you know the recipient.
For example, Notina is a good-hearted person but is always getting blamed for screw-ups. So, you decide you will headline a plea for help in the Subject area.
You decide against "Where did you put the @*!!%& file?" and opt for "Help! Help! Last week' s budget file is so lost!" as your headline in the Subject area of the e-mail.
Next, write a specific, easy-to-read message. Short sentences are best. Tell the reader what's in it for them. Remember that everyone is tuned into the radio station WIIFM (What's In It For Me).
Here's an example:
I hope your day is turning out better than mine -- I can't find last week's budget file.
I looked in the e/budgets/weekly folder, but it's not there.
Please let me know the entire path to the budget file dated 8-05-02. You know I'll owe you a coffee tomorrow when I see you in the cafe.
Thanks very much,
Ima Desperate Idesperate@ohwell.com X6502
Leave your name, e-mail address, and phone number(s) at the end of the e-mail. This may sound obvious, but sometimes, even with an electronic signature, key contact information is missing. Remember, you want to make it easy for e-mail recipients to communicate in the mode most comfortable for them.
Emphasize the urgency. Convey URGENCY in the body of the message or in a postscript. Better still, if you infrequently send mail at the High Importance level, use it or its equivalent in your messaging system. In Microsoft Outlook, High Importance highlights the received e-mail with a red exclamation point. I would send Notina's e-mail marked High Importance.
So, you've written an attention-getting headline. You've written a short, urgent message. You've answered that all-important recipient quesion "WIIFM". And, you left sufficient contact information. Now, hit the SEND button and expect a very quick response.
Copyright 2005 by Valerie Mills
About the author:
Valerie Mills (http://v.mills.home.att.net
) is a sales
copywriter specializing in direct mail and web advertising. She
has written sales letters, web pages, and brochures for the
finance, self-help, and technology areas. Using her background
and experience as an educator and corporate trainer, Valerie has
also written several articles and an ebook for parents. Contact
Valerie at firstname.lastname@example.org