Digital communication tools like emails are part of most people’s daily lives – professional or personal. Most people will likely send or receive an email in their daily life, regardless of what industry you work in or your role in your job. For those who use email as a professional communication tool, the ability to write professional emails is an important skill you must learn.
There are several reasons for writing an email. You could be trying to pitch an idea to a potential business partner, following up on a previous email, or trying to respond to customer inquiries or concerns. Whatever the reason, a well-composed and professionally written email must be clear and concise and have an actionable message.
In this guide, you will learn how to write a professional email that gets results.
Identify Your Goal
Before you get onto the technical details of writing a professional email, the most important thing you need to address is the goal. What is the purpose of the email? What is the outcome you want to achieve as a result of this correspondence?
The purpose behind identifying your goal is to achieve a sense of direction. If you do not have a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve, it can be easy to lose track of what you need to include. It is the same with goal-setting in general. When you identify your target goal, you can map out the steps needed to achieve that goal.
The same thing applies when writing an email. You need to know your purpose and craft your message accordingly.
Structure and Format of a Professional Email
Before you start writing an email, you need to know the proper format and structure to use. This is very important in a professional email, you want to convey that professionalism. This is achieved with correct format and structure.
There are five elements that comprise a professional email:
1. Subject Line
Some people pay little attention to the subject line when writing an email, but it is extremely important. Most professionals receive hundreds of emails per day. If you do not communicate your message clearly in the subject line, it is easy for your email to get lost in the midst.
The goal when writing a subject line is to keep it short but concise. You need to convey your message in a few words so that it is easy for the recipient to read, but will give them an idea of what the body of the email is about. At the same time, it should be eye-catching enough to make them want to read it. Avoid fluffy words and use words that let them know what to expect when they read your email.
Here are a few examples of effective email subject lines:
- Follow Up: Product Presentation
- Before You Start [Insert Project], Read This
- Feedback on [Insert Project/Subject]
The first line is important and introduces both yourself and the contents of the email. Writing an email salutation can be more difficult when you are not sure who the recipient is.
The simple way to go about it is to be polite and to address them by their name. For example, “Dear Ms. Johnson.” This is an old-fashioned approach, but is the most professional and respectful way to address someone.
3. Email Body
Obviously, the most important part of a professional email, the body, is where you deliver your message to the recipient.
When writing the email body, you need to be professional, clear, and concise. Avoid fluffy words and get straight to the message. You will learn more about how to write the email body later in this guide.
The closing is the last line of your email. This helps wrap up your message and can include your signature. In closing, you can reiterate any requests that you wish to convey to the recipient, thus reinforcing their importance.
Here are a few examples of effective ways to close an email:
- “Looking forward to hearing from you”
- “I look forward to speaking with you on Wednesday”
- “Thank you for considering me for this position”
- “I’ve attached my portfolio for you to review. Let me know if you need anything else from me.”
- “I look forward to discussing the details and the next step of the process.”
A couple of reminders to note when writing your closing line: first, don’t forget to include it! Second, avoid unprofessional and informal responses; it seems obvious, but a lot of people tend to overlook the closing line thinking that they have achieved their intent in the body.
The closing and signature part should be seen as distinct; they serve a different purpose.
While the closing line is intended to reiterate the key message of your email, the signature helps identify yourself. It must include relevant information about your name, position, and company. This is important in a professional email, it informs the recipient which company you are affiliated with and what your role is in that company.
Here are a few examples of a good signature for your email:
President of Sales
Including your signature and clearly defining your position within your company adds credibility to your email.
Tips for Writing Professional Emails
Now you know the correct format and structure of a professional email, the next step is to write it. The goal is to convey professionalism and deliver the message to the recipient.
Here are the essential tips for writing a professional email.
Keep Messages Brief and Concise
Before you get down to writing the actual email, you need to think about what it is you want to communicate. The goal is to keep your message as brief as possible. How can you deliver your message in the shortest way possible without losing meaning or substance?
Keep your sentences short. Avoid beating around the bush and get to the point right away. The body of the email must be direct without losing clarity of the essential message you want to convey. Make sure it contains all the pertinent information that you want the recipient to know. It might be a good time to catch up on the essential writing techniques that will enable you to communicate clearly.
If you are writing about different topics to the same recipient, it is best to write separate emails for each. This will avoid confusion and help to ensure that every topic is addressed in the right manner. However, if the points are related to each other, then you can definitely combine that into one email.
When presenting the information in your email, deliver it in clearly defined paragraphs. That way, the recipient will be able to separate each point and address them accordingly. By properly structuring your email, you give the recipient the opportunity to better digest the content.
Consider Your Audience/Recipient
It is important to understand who you are writing to so that you can structure your message accordingly.
If you are writing for one person only, this is to achieve. However, this can be more difficult when you are writing for several recipients.
The goal is to write in a tone that would fit the audience. For instance, when you are writing to a business executive, you want to keep the tone professional and the email polished. Make sure you choose professional, business-like terms. On the other hand, if you are writing to your customers, try to keep the tone more friendly and less formal (but still professional). If you are writing to several recipients, a good rule of thumb is to write it with the most senior and influential recipient in mind.
Clearly State Your Intent
When writing professional emails, you need to explicitly state the intent. Make it known what you want to achieve – a response to your follow-up email, to submit a report, etc.
Professionals who read emails on a regular basis do not have the extra time to guess what the email is for. You need to let them know what you are specifically looking for or asking them. You can state your intent in the opening line of your email. The rest of the email’s content should provide details that support your opening statement.
You can wrap it up at the end by providing a call to action. This call to action must relate to your opening statement. This will help get the result you want.
Add a Personal Touch
Writing to someone through email can seem impersonal. However, it does not have to be that way. You can always add a personal touch to your email communication making the recipient more likely to respond.
Just because you are writing the email in a concise manner does not mean it has to be robotic in tone. Start by opening your email with a warm greeting, acknowledge the person who is reading your email and thank them for the time they have taken to read it.
If the person you are writing to is someone you personally know, you can reference something that you know they will like. For example, you can open your email with, “How was your weekend with the kids?” or “Did you catch the Nets game last night?”
People are more likely to respond if you establish a personal connection.
This is the most important step when writing a professional email. Before you hit “send,” make sure you have read through the email several times. Take the time to check for grammar or spelling errors. There is nothing that can make an email look more unprofessional than grammar and spelling mistakes, even the most basic ones. Make sure you check for typo errors, too.
Some details might seem to be of little consequence to you, but a lack of attention to detail can leave a negative impression on the recipient.
Aside from the spelling, grammar, and typos, take time to check the length of your email as you proofread it. Is it too long? If you think it is, revise it to make it brief without losing any vital information.
Read through the email as many times as possible to make sure that you haven’t missed out any key information. You want your email to reflect your values, professionalism, and attention to detail.
If you are writing on behalf of your company, this is even more important. The emails you write do not just reflect you individually, but also the company you are a part of.
Examples of Professional Emails
Using the pointers above, it is time to get down to the actual writing of the email. Here are a few examples you can use to help craft the perfect email.
Subject Line: Revision Required for Sales Report
Dear Ms. Claire Dunphy,
I hope this message finds you well. Thank you for sending the sales report last week. I had the opportunity to review it yesterday and I would like to request a revision on Chapter 2. This section needs additional information, such as in the form of sales and quantitative figures.
I have attached the report with some of my comments. Can you amend it based on these comments?
Thank you for your hard work on this report.
Subject Line: Follow Up: Research Summary
Dear Dr. Emma Schofield,
How was your weekend? I wanted to follow up on the request that I sent for the submission of the research summary earlier this week. Are you able to submit it to me by 5PM tomorrow? This will give me enough time to review it before submitting the summary report to the research team leader.
I appreciate your hard work on this.
Most people are so used to writing (and receiving) emails that they may not give a lot of thought and attention to it. However, writing a professional email is a vital skill that can definitely help you advance in your professional career.
EmailFlow is one of the best tools that will aid you in the process of writing professional emails This innovative add-in works with Outlook so you can simplify the email review process and expedite the entire process of sending emails to your team members and business partners. When you rely on EmailFlow for your emails you can save your precious time to focus on the more important core tasks facing your business.