In the course of a day, how many emails do you receive? Hundreds, only a fraction of which you probably read, even with the best intentions. Now think of how many emails you send out. Not just to your wholesalers, back office, and existing clients, but to potential clients and brand new prospects. They’re also getting hundreds of emails a day. How can you get people to pause before they hit the delete button?
The ticket to writing emails that people will open, read, and then engage with is the use of empathy. Empathy is the ability to not only understand but share the feelings of other people. This sensitivity and awareness is a hallmark of emotional intelligence, and is useful in any sort of interpersonal interaction, whether it’s with family members, coworkers, or clients. It’s particularly good for written communication because it will put the writer into the position of the reader, meaning you will experience the way their thoughts and feelings may play out. With that advantage, you can increase the odds that your email will not only be open, but read, and read all the way through, for that matter.
Check out these four tips for writing smarter emails by employing empathy:
- Get Started on the Right Foot: How often do you read the subject line of an email and immediately hit delete? People use subject lines as the first filter—a well-crafted email doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make it past the subject line test. Think of it as the sales pitch– let the reader know why they should open it. If you were introduced or met them somewhere, or if you were referred by a mutual acquaintance, that info should be right in the subject line. The general topic should be in there too. Basically, let them know your connection, and then what you’re writing about.
If the recipient did something that impressed you, like you read an article or theirs or heard them speak somewhere, mention that in the subject line. A little flattery never hurts.
- Introduction, Abbreviated: Of course, you need to introduce yourself, but there’s a fine line to walk. The email should largely be focused on the recipient, not the sender. You want to provide enough about yourself to make your reader engage, but they’re not there to read your bio. Remember, much of your info will already be in your signature, such as your title, website, social media handles, etc. The reader can access that if they want to, rather than having to wade through it upfront. Just give them a quick note about who you are (“I’m the host of the Finance Fancy podcast, which is in the top 10 in our state” or “I am the writer of the weekly Financial Planning for Savvy Pets column in the East Amherst Gazette.”), then get to the meat of the email.
- Benefits Go Up Front: This doesn’t mean the benefits to you, by the way. You need to point out the benefits to the reader. Whatever you’re asking or offering to the recipient, you want to make sure that they know that they will get something out of reading your email as well. Obviously you’re ready to talk about why your practice is great, but are you laying out the actual benefits to the reader in a way that they see that through their own lens?
Just as important as including those benefits is putting that information at the top of the email. We can all deny it, but we know that we don’t read to the bottom of every email. Don’t let your reader get bored and miss out. Put the benefits to them as close to the beginning as makes sense to let them know why they should keep reading.
- Brevity Is the Soul of Wit: Shakespeare knew what he was talking about. Making someone you don’t know (or even someone you do) read a lot of information just to get the meaning of something isn’t considerate of their time. Part of that is the brief time frame you have to catch someone’s attention (as short as a few seconds for busy people!) and part of it is just not wanting to waste someone’s time. Be brief, grab their attention right away, and save the extended discussion for when they’ve replied asking for more information or a meeting.
Our inboxes are inundated with emails every day, our business inboxes and our personal inboxes, and most of them are ones we didn’t ask for. Email is definitely the dominant form of communication currently, so mastering it will mean you’ll have better success when reaching out both to current and potential clients. Empathy can be a tool that allows you to get into the head of your reader and anticipate what they will want to read, how quickly, and how it will benefit them, which ultimately means you’ll get a better chance of not only receiving a reply, but a reply that you’ll want.