How to Write an Effective Business Email

Not being able to write an effective email will hurt your business…… more than you know. It’s the tool that we all use to communicate with our customers, vendors, employees, friends and family.

Email Datentunnel 2Most of us prefer email or text because it gives us more control as to when we respond, and how we respond. The phone is too immediate and demanding. Email lets us craft a response that accurately reflects what we want to say.


In this post, I’m gonna give you some tips and techniques that have emerged as the best techniques for writing an effective email. We all have to write dozens, if not more emails everyday, so if you want someone to respond (or even notice) your email, you’d better get their attention and make it worth it when they click to read your email. In fact, you’ve first got to get them to click to read your email.

We’re only going to address emails in this post. Texts are widely used by many, but texts are more conversational. Emails are communication.


The best tip I ever got for improving my emails was to write on a 6th grade level.

No fancy words. No words that you wouldn’t use in a conversation with someone.

education, elementary school, learning and people concept - group of school kids with pens and papers writing in classroom

Write as though you were talking to someone in person. Often we compose emails in a whole different manner than the way we talk. We try to make it sound smart or authoritative… that we are credible. People don’t respond well to corporate-speak.   Try to write as if you just ran into them at Starbucks and you wanted to tell them something

Instead of saying “we have determined that the goals are consistent with our plan.” say, “we decided to do it this way.” There is something much more approachable about writing on a 6th grade level, even though sometimes it may sound folksy. It also is more understandable. There’s less ambiguity about what you mean.

Write as though that person was sitting in front of you and just talk. While you’re talking, write it down.


The biggest obstacle is getting someone to click on your email. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how effective or well-written your email is. If they don’t open it. It’s useless.


So, here are some tips to get someone to open your email based solely on the subject line:

  • Make it short/succinct.
  • Make it straight forward
  • Make it so the recipient doesn’t have to guess what the email is about
  • Don’t give away the answer in the title. Ask the question
  • Make it urgent

You’d be surprised how many times an email that you have sent never gets opened. You send an email and never hear from the recipient.   Do you ever wonder what happened? It’s most likely that the subject line of the email didn’t seem important enough or understandable enough, and so the recipient never opened it.  Or it didn’t seem like it had any urgency and they thought they could open it later…..and never do.

There also has to be urgency to the email’s subject line or it may be put aside for future reading. And then, a hundred other things happen, and your email never gets opened.


If you are lured into opening an email, and it’s too long, it’s likely you may not read it and go to the next one. That’s the number one reason emails don’t get read.

Business emails are not the vehicles to show off your command of the English language or to impress someone with the number of big words you can cram into an email.

Orderly row of short pencils of different colors

Business emails are commercials, not Masterpiece Theater. Be to the point. Be short. Be easy to understand. Have lots of appropriate information. Request action.

Don’t include anything in a business email that doesn’t move the subject forward. Don’t include anything that doesn’t address the issue that you presented in the email subject line.

Ideally, you only want one topic per email.   If you have several topics that relate, it’s OK to address more than one topic, but it’s better to break them up into separate emails.   Three short emails are much better than one long email.   The 3 short ones are much more likely to get read.


It’s very easy to have an email convey the wrong tone, so be sure to proofread your email.   When you proofread, be aware of how it might sound to the person receiving your email. If you’re short with how you make your requests, it might sound demanding.   It should be friendly as though you’re talking to a friend.

kitten abuses a puppy. isolated on white

Be sure to couch your requests in terms that encourage and not demand. Even if you’re the boss, you’ll get more cooperation with a friendly tone as opposed to a demanding tone.  It seems to be easier to sound demanding and unfriendly in an email than it does in person.


Never send an email immediately, unless it is an emergency.   Once you’ve finished your email, don’t send it right away. Go to the next one or go to the thing on your To Do list and set that email aside for an hour.

Come back and read it an hour later, proofread it and see how it sounds.   It’s almost impossible to proofread something you’ve just written, and it certainly is hard to judge the tone of an email right after you’ve written it.  So give it an hour and see how it sounds once it’s a little cold to you.

You’ll be surprised how often you want to change something and how many little errors you make when you first compose an email.


There is nothing more irritating than to open an email and have it go on and on before you figure out what that person wants.  Don’t do this.   It’s a waste of time and energy.

Dart hit a target dartboard in motion. Closeup. 3d illustration

Make it clear from the beginning what you want. Give the recipient all the information they need to make whatever action you want them to take.

State the purpose of the email right up front, if not in the subject, then in the first sentence or two. State the business right away and then elaborate with details.


Conclude with what you want as an outcome – the action requested.

All good emails have 3 parts.

  1. The Subject/Issue/Problem – As we’ve stated, you must early on make it clear what the subject of the email is and what action is desired from reading the email.
  2. The Details – All the information necessary for the recipeient to make the decision and take the action that is requested in the email.
  3. The Action Required– This is the entire reason for the email. What do you want to have happen? What action is requested by the email.

When you’ve made the request, shut up. End the email, but make it clear what’s needed next.

Now it’s the recipient’s turn.