Emails that get replies, what are they?

7 rules for writing emails that always get a reply

Bypassing all the efforts, wishes, and occasionally aggression of different messengers, emails statistically remain the dominant means of business communication. The only problem is that it is probably too dominant. Due to the excessive number of emails in their Inboxes, even adequate authors (emailers) have to compete for the readers’ attention.

And marketers and salespeople get it the worst. No matter what stories they tell or make up, open and response rates keep only falling down as the years go by. It seems that the reader’s all-time favourite button is DELETE. And to be heard/read is the main issue for the majority of authors.

So what is the finest and surefire way to direct attention to your emails, so they will be noticed, opened, read and, ideally, replied?

Try to start by following these simple rules in every email, or at least one rule, and your emails will get significantly different and better.

I have already described the damage from long emails in detail, so try to compose short ones. With such a world-spaning information overload, when the skill of reading has way back faded into the habit of skimming texts, this advice seems the most logical. Everyone is so busy. Then why on earth do we send each other thick tomes of information and then get offended that no one reads them? Give exactly as much information as needed. Email is like the recipe — everything should be added in a certain proportion and in a certain order. If you add the extra ingredient, then somebody will probably be able to eat the dish, but can hardly find it tasty. So your emails should not contain unnecessary words for the readers’ to relish them.

Cut to the chase

2. First things first. Yes, it is not OK to start with “І am writing to…” or any other insignificant and reasonless opening. I believe in getting down to essentials. It is an email, not a high school essay, or scientific thesis. So as they say in Hollywood — cut to the chase.

3. The subject line is the best summery of your email. Formulate an adequate email subject line. By writing “hello,” “questions,” or any other bullsh*t instead of a valid subject line, right from the start you miss a wonderful opportunity of shortening your email, as well as creating an image of yourself as a sound professional who cares about the time of others. A subject line is sort of an email summary. It should directly state what your email is about and why it is worth being read just now. Besides underusing such tool as the subject line, you deprive yourself of a wonderful opportunity to cram into it tricky and subtle words, like urgent or FYI.

4. Refocus. Start with them, not with yourself. Turn the flashlight on your reader. Everyone is interested in themselves, and your readers as well, so shift the focus from you to the reader. In any communication, the audience has always been the target and to reach it, you need to concentrate on its needs. Then write so that the reader 1. understands you; 2. feels important for you. These two points are virtually a guarantee that your emails will be replied.

The fundamental, disillusioning and in fact and very sobering rule of communication states that no one rests you nothing. So take away from your communication (and verbal as well) selfish I need… / I want…. No one is interested in reading what you need, especially your customers. People are interested in their problems, their situation, their tasks and goals.

5. One message — one email. Well, fine — two messages, but this is the absolute maximum. In fact, this is the rule of thumb. Email is not a business meeting. At a meeting the more questions form the agenda were discussed, the more productive the meeting is considered. With emails, it is the other way around: the shorter, the better. So do not try to squeeze all the questions you have into a single email as if there will never be a chance to ask them later. Anything else you want to ask, write another email.

Email tone is the ‘secret’ secret that will guard you against a great deal of misunderstanding!

6. Watch the tone. The tone is important for any email, even the simplest one. This is exactly the nuance and the ‘secret’ secret that will guard you against a great deal of misunderstanding in the future. The absence of gestures and facial expressions in emails can lead to misinterpretation of even the simplest sentence. Here is an example of such a case.

A simple emails from a customer, who is asked to approve changes:

I am going on vacation next week. Let’s talk when I return.


What does this mean? That he’s been already fed up with you and your emails? That you should decide? That the customer didn't get your point at all? Or do whatever you want and I need some rest? Or that this is a complicated issue and no sense to address it in a mad rush?

You can never tell!

Such the email conveys an inexplicit message. And its reader has little choice but to project their fears or insecurity, start overinterpreting or conducting imaginary dialogues with the author, getting into his head and making up his answers. And after 10 days, the customer returns to work, rested and full of energy, and the addressee is already peeved and angry for the emotional exhaustion. Is it possible to talk about normal relationships in such a situation? Hardly!

And it all started with a simple email…

7. Care about grammar and spelling. You possibly couldn’t come up with a better indicator of negligence in emails than a misspelling, grammar or lexical mistakes. And no matter how advanced and progressive your spelling-checkers are, proofread your writings by yourself and carefully. “To err is human, to edit, divine.” — The phrase speaks for itself and so eloquently than no more explanation is needed.

This article in Ukrainian —

Communication and career coach, HR consultant, passionate emailer and verbalist at and