By Dennis Mahagin
There's no question about it: E Mail has arrived. According to a research
group studying technology trends, by the year 2005, one third of all
electronic billing will be carried out via e mail routes; and devices like the
"Blackberry" (a palm-sized, mobile wireless device designed exclusively for
sending and retrieving e mail) will no doubt inevitably be scaled down to
micro-size and incorporated into household appliances and/or items of
clothing-- so that sometime in the not-distant future you will be checking
your Inbox from under a band-aid-sized fanny pack velcro snap, shoe sole, or
the brim of your favorite baseball cap. There are even companies who will now
pay you $$ to read, and send, E Mails!
The E Mail now stands poised to replace the "cold call" as one of the most
widely applicable and effective business tools of the 21st century. Herein
lies the caveat:
Technology such as this forces upon us a new communication style, summed up
below for the purpose of keeping your vital business e mail communications
from being mouse-pulled to the nearest Trash icon by a deluged and
easily-distracted reader. Think of the acronym, T.I.T.E.-- for tight
writing-- to burn these basic principles into your brainpan database.
Some Ballpark rules to ponder:
GET PERSONAL -- Engage back-up e mail accounts for sent-and-received
messages of the FFA (Free For All) Links and Autoresponder variety, freeing up
your main mailbox for "quality time" correspondence, wherein you'll generate
the bulk of your bona fide, "personal" contacts, two or three of which will
be worth way more, over the long haul, than a hundred anonymous, automated
hits that are divorced from your direct influence and mean very little outside
a multi-level-marketing (MLM) context, which of course has its place but is
handled by robots and, by default !, is outside the scope of this discussion.
Which leads us right into:
BAD FORM -- If your message, sent by human - to human, reeks even remotely
of a form letter, odds are it will be discarded, half-read or ignored
completely, unless you're giving away autographed copies of Elvis Presley's
last prescription refill !
Use templates and macros to ease the process of multiple mailings, but try as
best you can to "personalize" each message, (especially as concerns the Title
and Body of the e mail) and those few minutes of extra work will pay off huge
dividends. Nothing turns a reader off more than the stale tone and
of a form letter.
USE WHITE SPACE -- Break up your message with liberal usage of the
spacebar, both horizontally and vertically, i.e.-- between sentences like
this; and between paragraphs
like this. It's just easier on overworked eyes period.Now for the main
course of study :
1. [ T ] Title:
An often-underestimated but crucial part of your message. It must have a hook
that makes the reader curious enough to double-click on it.
Virus - mongers have been intimately aware of, and adept at this technique for
years. Nothing gets read until it's opened. If someone referred you to the
person receiving your e mail, include that name as "mutual friend" in the
If there is a benefit to be conveyed by your message, try to sum it up in a
title that grabs the reader's interest immediately.
By way of example-- 1) Bad Title: "Hello Potential Customer John X !";
2) Good Title: "Website Traffic Booster Recommended by Mutual Friend Joe Y !"
2. [ I ] Introduction
In a paragraph consisting of no more than 3 sentences, start your message by
clearly and succintly telling your reader who you are, and why you're
writing. If you must "toot your own horn" here, do it very lightly. There is
plenty of time later (in future communications) for the reader to find out all
about your background, qualifications, and inherently fine personal traits!
Right off the bat, like a major league relief pitcher "setting the plate" for
his best pitch, in the intro you are quickly working the reader into a
malleable state of mind to receive the next step,
3. [ T ] Tell the Tale
To the extent that, in steps 1 and 2, you've made a promise to deliver a
pitch, or set up a scenario of sorts, here is the litmus test for how well you
deliver on that promise. Say what you need to say in strong, specific terms,
and be as brief as possible without damaging the thrust of your intent.
Create a sense of urgency by conveying an easily-understood benefit to the
reader, and follow up with reasons why you are the person best suited, in the
here and now, to bestow such a benefit upon the reader. Have you ever heard
someone tell a joke really well? The trick
is in getting quickly and smoothly to the punchline, then delivering it with
an even tone and straight face, right before:
4. [ E ] Ending
Believe it or not, this is where most "communicators" get hung up. You can
nail the first three steps like a seasoned pro, but not capping off your e -
message in a timely fashion can be a surefire way to see it "fragged."
The reader must be left with a taste of curiosity lingering on the roof of his
or her mouth, that can only be quenched by-- you guessed it!-- responding to
your message. No matter how eloquent you may indeed be, the old adage "less is
more" could not be more appropos than at this juncture. If you cannot "tell
the tale" in 75 words (100 max.) delete the copy and start again.
You will be rewarded with a swelling address book, successful link exchanges
by the score, and a rare skill indispensable for navigating the rough
cyber-seas of communication-- tight writing.
About the Author
Dennis Mahagin promotes and develops content for websites, writes articles,
fiction and poetry for publication on the Web, and puts together grant
applications in his spare time. http://www.artforstudios.com/