The Art of Writing the Perfect Email

When was the last time you received a really great email?

Not a newsletter or promo email about the latest course you must have, just a regular email correspondence that was a pleasure to read?

My guess is you haven’t seen one in a very long time, or very often—if ever.

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” This witty quote (attributed to the 17th-century French polymath Blaise Pascal; although some say it came from Mark Twain or Woodrow Wilson) hits the nail on the head.

Writing a concise but impactful letter is challenging. Some might say it’s an art.

There’s a difference between shooting off an email and writing something good that will make a positive impression on your client and will help strengthen your esteem and overall relationship.

It takes no time at all to write a long, stream-of-consciousness message, but a thoughtful, brief message can take a lot of effort and time, to write.

But man, is it worth it!

Nowadays, the quick and blunt email has taken the lead as the default method of communication. As an entrepreneur and business owner, you should be shooting for higher than that!

Often, your emails are your primary method of contact with your client base, so learning to craft engaging, interesting, and well-thought out emails should be a priority. It can make a world of difference in your customer service. Here are a few tips on the art of writing the “perfect” email.

Be Friendly

Seems obvious but it’s incredible to me how many people overlook the simple aspect of friendliness when writing an email.

When you encounter a new, existing, or potential client in person, what’s the very first thing you do? You smile at them! This gesture of friendliness sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. You don’t start a conversation with a client by scowling at them… and if you do, you might have bigger problems than worrying about how to write the perfect email!

Setting a friendly tone when writing an email also sets the tone of the communication that follows. Yes, being brisk and businesslike can be professional, but a little bit of levity and friendliness won’t hurt. Nowadays, a little informal (but respectful) touch can go a long way to enhance your brand.

Pro Tip: Strive for polite without being stiff. If you come from an old school approach to business, this might mean starting the email with the person’s first name instead of their title and last name. (“Hi Jane” sounds a lot friendlier than “Hello Mrs. Fairbanks).  

It’s also nice to take a line (but not a long paragraph) to greet them and ask how they are before diving into business.

Pay some attention to your sign-off as well. Instead of signing off “Yours truly,” or “Sincerely,” try something like “Warmly” or “All the best” (my personal fav). You could even try a more natural closing sentence like, “Looking forward to hearing from you.” or “Talk soon!”.

Softening the tone of your emails just a bit can help you build a positive relationship with your clients, making all other interactions, both online and in person, much smoother.

Related Article: Is Your Bedside Manner Affecting Your Bottom Line?

Lay Out Your Thoughts Clearly

One of the problems with being a busy business owner is you often don’t take the time to write your emails carefully. This can result in emails that are more stream-of-consciousness than well-crafted.

If you’re writing an email that involves many important points, rapidly typing your thoughts down could result in you missing something important. Or you may think you’ve communicated something clearly and your poor recipient is hiring the top code-cracker in the country to decipher what you’re getting at.

Before you write your email, it can help to layout your thoughts clearly. This could be as simple as writing down all of the points in the order in which you want to address them. So when you start your email, it might look a bit like this:

Hi <FirstName>!

Just wanted to drop you a message about (the overall point).

This is the paragraph that includes the (first point).

This is the paragraph that includes the (second point) and (third point).

This is the paragraph where you sum up (all the points).

What do you think?



From this draft, you can expand the email around each point you want to make, ensuring that you won’t miss anything important.

Pro Tip: DO NOT add the person’s email address until you’re ready to send. If replying to an email, remove the person’s email address and add it back only when you’re ready to hit the ol’ send button. This not only gives you a natural moment to pause and reflect on what you wrote before sending; it also prevents you from accidentally sending something prematurely.

Format for Clarity

When you send an email, you can use formatting to your advantage, so it’s easy for the recipient to read and catch all the important points. The defaults included with most programs like Google or Outlook include formatting tools that many people forget to leverage to organize their emails.

Remember that reading online is not like reading print and big blocks of text can be daunting for a reader to tackle. Here are some quick tips:

  1. Use shorter paragraphs to break up ideas
  2. Use more white space
  3. Create bulleted and numbered lists
  4. Use bold, underline, and italics, to emphasize key points. You might also use capitals, sizes, and colors but these should be used very sparingly.

Use formatting to make your points stand out. This also makes it much easier for all parties to refer back to key information so that they can skim an old email and pick out the details they need.

Ask for a Response

Usually, when you’re sending a business email, it’s not just informational. You probably have questions you need answers to, or maybe you need input and feedback. It’s important to make any deliverables or calls to action crystal clear, especially if your email is long and includes a lot of information. Use polite but direct questions to show that you’re waiting for a response. Here are a few examples.

  • What are your thoughts on X?
  • I would appreciate your input on X?
  • Do you agree?
  • What do you think?
  • Please let me know your opinion about X.
  • I look forward to your thoughts.
  • I look forward to hearing your opinion.
  • etc.

Your Subject Line

Before they see a single word of your email, your recipient is going to see your subject line. Anyone who works in email marketing knows that a stellar subject line can be even more important than the content of the email itself. In the case of a newsletter, if your subject line isn’t enticing, your audience might not bother to open the email at all.

This works differently for email correspondence, but a well thought out subject line is still important.

When it comes to a correspondence email, your subject line should be more than just a brief summation of the contents of your email. Consider framing the subject line as a question to engage the reader, so they know what the email is about and also that you’re asking for their reply.

Although some people go for super-lengthy and detailed subject lines, I find it best to keep them as short as possible. You want the whole subject line to appear when they receive your email. If it trails off with a “…”, then it’s probably too long.

Here are some other helpful tips to keep in mind when you’re writing an email.

  • Use exclamation points sparingly!
  • Avoid using slang, short forms, and jargon whenever possible.
  • Only send emails to groups of people on a need-to-know basis and avoid replying all with one-liners. “Thanks!”
  • Include a signature so that it’s easy for someone to get in touch with you, find your website, and pick up the phone and call as necessary.

Pro Tip: Don’t send an email when you’re angry or in a bad mood. Wait until you’ve calmed down, then return to it. When it’s important, or there’s been a miscommunication, pick up the phone. Sometimes emails just don’t convey the right tone, and you can almost always solve an issue much more quickly with a personal phone call than an email.

Some say that perfection is impossible, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be in constant pursuit of it!

Remember that your email is a reflection of you and by putting just a little bit more effort into your daily emails, you can deliver a much smoother customer service experience to your clients.

After all, think about how many emails you have to deal with on a daily basis. Rather than join the pack with brisk and often unfriendly emails, you can increase your esteem with your customers by putting in that extra bit of effort. I think that’s worth an extra minute or two!

How many emails do you send out a day? Are any of them memorable? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Meet your host

Sandra Booker, Founder of Changemaker Inc. (home to Sidekick COO and The VA Studio) and creator of Scale Society and The Advisory Board, is a mentor, Fractional COO  and growth strategist. She specializes in helping overworked, overwhelmed, multi-hatted entrepreneurs become the CEOs of sustainably scalable, and powerfully profitable businesses. 

After helping local businesses thrive, and receiving accolades in her community (like the 40 Under 40 award) Sandra turned her attention to the world of online service providers, and her clients include familiar names like Chanti Zak, Tarzan Kay, and Laura Belgray.

In her (efficiently used) spare time, she teaches others how to build and grow their own 6-figure virtual assistant practices and is on a mission to create a million jobs by helping her clients and students scale their businesses.

The Great Big List of KPI's

Want more? Check these out!

Dip your toes into transformation with these resources that pack a punch, all on the house.

Get started with KPIs with this free guide that will show you what KPIs you need to track, how many is too many, how to identify trends, examples of KPIs for every area of your business.

Washup & Reset

An annual business review to get you off the “set goal, miss goal, try-same-thing-again” merry-go-round, The Wash-up shows you haw to use the lessons from this year to get the most out of next year.

4D-90 Framework

This process is designed to be completed every quarter so you always know exactly what to do to hit your goals without putting in more time, create a new offer, or adding yet another launch to your calendar.

Budget Template

Struggling to know where you're money's going and whether you can afford that new course you've been eyeing? You need a budget and this template will help.

KPI Business Dashboard

Your easy answer to "What the heck do I track?"  You'll have all of your numbers in one place, and have at-a-glance information so you always know whether you're on track to meet your goals.

Grab your Budget Template