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Why people aren't reading your emails

Apr 10, 2017 7:54:00 PM


112.4 billion (yeah, with a b) business emails are exchanged every day, all over the world. That’s 122 emails sent and received per day – per person.

We don’t know the statistics, but we bet a whole lot of those don’t get read or responded to. Here’s why:

You Weren’t Clear About What You Wanted

The reason you sent the email should be painfully clear. What you want them to do should be painfully clear. What the deadline is for doing it should – you guessed it – be painfully clear.

You Wrote Too Much

People are busy. They don’t want to read a long, complicated email – and unless you’re their boss, they’re probably not going to. Try this:

  • Stick to the issue at hand
  • Use short sentences
  • Stay away from $5 words
  • Use bullet points to emphasize the most important parts

Bad Manners

We said shorter is better, but it doesn’t mean you have to be rude. An email that says, “I need feedback on that newsletter today.” – and that’s it – is certainly short and unambiguous, but it’s not very friendly. People like helping friendly people, so be friendly:

  • Include a greeting
  • Use “please” and “thank you”
  • Don’t write in all caps

Too Many Email Recipients

In the non-business world, this is known as the “bystander effect.” That is, no one does anything – like call the police at the scene of an accident – because they all assume someone else is doing it. If there are too many people CC’ed in your email, you might have the same problem. (Tip: if you need that many recipients, use BCC.)

You know the cliché “treat others how you want to be treated”? Try applying it to emails – send emails you wouldn’t mind receiving, and it’s likely the recipient will feel the same.

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Courtney Stallings
Written by Courtney Stallings

Courtney writes and edits content for Leading Results and their clients. She has been described as a Grammar Nazi and enjoys crafting writing with excellent spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

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