We did an audience survey at one of my recent speaking engagements. I wanted to know what really bugged folks about emails they received. Without hesitation, the top 3 were:
* Poor spelling and grammar – Your, you’re; there, their, they’re; here, hear; to, too, two and the list goes on. And used by very supposedly, highly educated, smart folks.
* Emails that are too long; too wordy. Emails that run several paragraphs that could be said in several sentences.
* Subject lines that don’t match the body copy.
There were others, but these three rose to the top.
Then we talked about useless phrases used in emails. Ineffective words and phrases that could be left out. They’re not bad; simply useless and unnecessary (i.e., not needed). When these phrases are eliminated, the emails usually read better; sound stronger.
Here we go:
1. “Just a note to let you know…” or “Just wanted to say…” or “I’m just checking back to see where we are on the order.”
JUST is a weak, wimpy word. Not necessary. In fact, lame and useless. Eliminate the word JUST in your sentences. Read those sentences without the word “just” and see how much stronger they become.
2. “Pursuant to our call (conversation, whatever).”
Double work, not needed, not necessary. Confirm the statement instead, with: “Glad you liked the proposal” or “Enjoyed our call” or “Here’s a handy recap of our call” or “Good call and excited we can make ‘X’ happen” or “By now you’ve received our proposal.” Email is a time to use your personality. Formal sayings, unless you’re a lawyer (sorry), aren’t normally needed. We seldom say “Pursuant to our conversation” in person… why use it in an email?
3. “Please let me know if you have any questions.”
You gotta be kidding me! Hard to believe folks still use this, but they do. Most folks will let you know if they have questions. Not needed. “Trust me to follow up” is much better.
4. “If there’s anything else I can do, please let me know.”
This one goes with #3. Seriously? That’s a real ‘get rid of’ line. It’s normally, if you’re in sales, OUR responsibility to follow up. So, again, a better phrase would be: “Trust me to follow up to handle your questions.”
5. Long rambling emails. OK it’s not a phrase, but it is an annoyance.
Salespeople tend to want to give the client all the information. But today we get emails on our iPhone, iPad, and some of us on our watches, and who knows where else. Not too much room for a long email.
6. Keep your subject lines accurate, relevant and interesting.
Topics change within the email? Keep up with the subject line. Make your emails COUNT. Change the body copy? Change the subject line.
Remember, less is more. Long, rambling, wordy emails aren’t normally necessary. And watch your spelling and grammar. Use your personality. Personalize the email. Keep it interesting. Keep it simple. People are busy.