Emails 4/4: The Body, CTA + Neutral Vocabulary
This is the end, beautiful friend.
There is no better way to put it, really. Thank you, The Doors!
So far, we have covered almost all the points that are important to remember when writing an email (the ones in bold), and we are left with just two more remaining from the list:
0. Structure (Newsletter 001)
1. Subject Line (Newsletter 003)
2. Introduction (Newsletter 002)
3. Brief Pleasantry (Newsletter 003)
4. Email Body
5. Call To Action
6. Signing Out (Newsletter 003)
7. Signature (Newsletter 002)
8. Postscript (Newsletter 002)
Now that you have pre-set the structure of your email, you are free to develop your own writing style within each of the paragraphs. Take time and practice your writing skills as this is the knowledge that is gained through regular work.
A very important thing to remember is minding the gender-neutral language. In order to avoid unintentional misaddressing, but also to show respect toward the people we talk and exchange emails with, many educational and professional authorities have been putting stress on the usage of one word in particular. The word in question is ‘they’.
This word was Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s word of the year for 2019, as the lookups increased by more than 300% compared to the previous year! ‘They’ has been used to ‘refer to one person whose gender identity is nonbinary’. Therefore, should you find yourself in a situation to address a person in the third person singular (especially when you don’t know their name), use they instead of he/she or he or she or any other similar context, e.g.:
- Tomorrow, a new client is visiting us. They are going to arrive in the morning.
- When a user enters the website, they will have several options to choose from.
Going back to the structure, the email body and the call-to-action paragraph are the only two parts that are not set in stone in the context of fixed phrases that are used to greet people or start/finish an email. Here, we go direct and dive into explaining the reason for writing, the problem, the report, or whatever the reason might be. It is important to emphasize several ideas that can help us write a better body of business emails:
- Be direct. There is no reason to write a school-like essay, so make the point straightaway and use simple sentences.
- Cut the fat. No need to use three words where one can do the trick. Think in advance and read your writing through critical eyes.
- Don’t overexplain. The idea is to write directly and offer one sentence for one ide + one sentence as an explanation.
- Avoid repetition and redundancy. Use synonyms (Power Thesaurus is cool) when you find yourself lacking words or in need of a perfect expression to express your thoughts (Oops! Power Thesaurus says ‘convey’ can replace ‘express’ so that we can avoid repetition, therefore — … a perfect expression to convey your thoughts).
For more ideas, check Harvard Business Review’s page on polishing business writing skills.
The last paragraph left to analyze is the so-called call-to-action paragraph (CTA) that follows the email body and precedes the signing-out section. Here, we want to tell the recipient what we expect from them — a reply, a call, specific info, certain documents, etc. It is important to separate this paragraph from the rest as both the sender and the recipient will find it easy to return to the email and locate the necessary information. You do want to make your life easier, don’t you? The enter key to the rescue!
Let’s take one final look at the email that we have been analyzing and improving during June:
Voilà! Now that the email structure is fixed and standardized, the only thing to worry about is the actual text that needs to be written in the email body and the CTA paragraph.
It really is that easy. We only need to maintain the outline and we will reduce the chance of our emails being seen as sloppy and lacking professionalism.
At the end of the day, even the tiniest improvements can make our lives easier; and, hopefully, this how-to series has helped you and inspired you to write better emails. All that is left now is to practice and increase your self-confidence along the way.
Challenge yourself, keep the faith, and continue improving!