Model of a Clear, Effective Business Email

This article explains how to write a clear, effective business email. When you apply these methods, you will write more quickly and confidently, knowing your emails will be so well written you always get the response you want.

Formatting tips and best practices are in the explanation below the following email.

Example Email

To: Larry, Tom, Susan, Bree, and Sandra
From: Jessica Barnes
Subject: Need your advice on two issues by tomorrow afternoon
Dear Larry, Tom, Susan, Bree, and Sandra,

Our company experienced phenomenal growth last year, largely because of your industry. Keep up the good work.

One of the reasons for our success has been your creativity and willingness to share suggestions with me. I need your advice on two issues before our next meeting.  Call me or send me an email by tomorrow afternoon with your thoughts.

First, I would like your opinions on our Web site:

  • What are your thoughts on usability, appearance, and functionality?
  • Should we consider incorporating a limited e-commerce model?

Second, most of you have said we need to place more emphasis on recruiting. As you know, there are many methods available to us for doing so. I’d like to know what you feel are the best routes for going about doing this.

Call me or send me an email by tomorrow afternoon with your thoughts.  I look forward to meeting with all of you next week.

Jessica
314 826-5138
Jessica.worth@turtledynamics.com
(412) 232-4820

An explanation of the format and content of this clear, effective email follows.
To: Larry, Tom, Susan, Bree, and Sandra 
From: Jessica Barnes
Subject: Need your advice on two issues by tomorrow afternoon Write subject lines in all your emails. Don’t put a message in the subject line. Write a few words clearly identifying what is in the email, what is important for the reader to know, or what must be done. If there is a time by which something must be done, include it so the reader knows he or she must read this email now. Use “you” wording if the email contains information important to the reader or you want the reader to be engaged.
Salutation Dear Larry, Tom, Susan, Bree, and Sandra, Write salutations in your emails, even informal emails to coworkers. In a phone call, we always start with “Hi Vernon.” Salutations, with as little as “Hi” give a sense of regard for the reader. Write the readers’ names when you have a small number. It shows more regard and a feeling of collegiality. Use the first name and a comma for people you know. If the writer has signed emails to you using a courtesy title such as “Ms.,” use the courtesy title here. Don’t write the person’s first and last name. “Dear,” “Hello,” “Hi,” “Good morning” are all acceptable for emails to people you know. For emails to people you don’t know, prefer “Dear.”
Skip one line.
Introduction Our company experienced phenomenal growth last year, largely because of your industry. Keep up the good work.
Start with anything the reader needs to know about you if you don’t know the reader. Write any appreciative or congratulatory words that are appropriate. You build teams and partnerships with these statements of thanks and regards. They also set a positive tone for the email. Putting these positive statements into their own paragraph gives them strength.
Skip one line.
Introduction One of the reasons for our success has been your creativity and willingness to share suggestions with me. I need your advice on two issues before our next meeting.
State the reason for the email and any background the reader needs. If your email contains information, state what you will be presenting.
Skip one line.
Give commendations and reasons One of the reasons for our success has been your creativity and willingness to share suggestions with me.
Provide commendations when the opportunity arises. Your coworkers, employees, clients, and vendors will appreciate them. This also shares with readers your reason for asking them to perform the task. Sharing reasons builds a sense of partnering.
Skip one line.
State what is in your email I need your advice on two issues before our next meeting.
For all of your business documents, state what is in the document after your introduction. Also introduce all lists. Don’t simply start a list.
Skip one line.
State actions and important points early Call me or send me an email by tomorrow afternoon with your thoughts.
In the introduction paragraph, state any actions the reader must perform and the important point of the email if there is one. Don’t put them just at the end. Readers often don’t make it that far. For actions, state what, when, how, and if appropriate, why and where. Avoid writing just “I need your advice” without telling the reader how to get it to you and when.
Introduce the first section First, I would like your opinions on our Web site:
Divide your emails in clearly visible sections. Start a new paragraph for each. Introduce each section with a statement of what is in the section. When you have more than one section, you might use an ordinal (first, second, and so on).
Break out lists
    • What are your thoughts on usability, appearance, and functionality?
    • Should we consider incorporating a limited e-commerce model?

Be specific about what you want the reader to do and provide all the detail the reader needs to accomplish the task. Break out lists with bullets or numbers. Don’t leave lists in paragraphs.

Introduce the second section Second, most of you have said we need to place more emphasis on recruiting.
Clearly mark each subsequent section. This is Section 2. The writer breaks for a paragraph and begins with the ordinal “Second” to show the reader clearly that the writer is beginning a new topic. The writer then states the new topic clearly.
Skip one line.
Clearly state the additional task As you know, there are many methods available to us for doing so. I’d like to know what you feel are the best routes for going about doing this.
The writer then explains the second topic. The writer adds a task.
Skip one line.
Close by restating the action and important point, the task Call me or send me an email by tomorrow afternoon with your thoughts.  I look forward to meeting with all of you next week.
Close the email by repeating the actions and important point, in this case the task. Place this critical information at the beginning and end. End cordially. This writer writes a cordial ending while reminding the reader of the meeting.
Skip one line.
End with your name and contact information Jessica
314 826-5138
Jessica.worth@turtledynamics.com
(412) 232-4820
Write your name and contact information at the end. Don’t send emails without your name.

Video Workshops in Writing Email

Five- to ten-minute videos about the best practices in writing emails follow. You may duplicate and distribute them with Business Writing Center contact information. These are the videos:

  • Email etiquette
  • Writing subject lines
  • Planning emails
  • Organizing emails
  • Tone and formality in emails
  • Writing a persuasive email
  • Writing a request email
  • Writing an email responding to a request
  • Writing an email describing  a problem


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