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With professional email traffic exceeding more than 110 billion messages a day, most of us now have a backlog of unanswered messages.

Despite this unanswered email trend, we get annoyed when others don’t respond to us or reply in what seems to be a careless manner. So, how can we improve this situation?

Follow along as Sevenshift CEO & McKinsey Advisor, Caroline Webb highlights how you can catch busy professional’s attention through email, and actually get a response.

Concise and Actionable

Caroline Webb’s brilliant, engaging best-seller How to Have a Good Day“, includes these five strategies that outline how to make your emails easier to understand and act on:

  1. Keep most emails to just a few lines if you can. Use simple language, short sentences, and snappy phrases. Save your rhetoric for your novel or your wedding speech.
  2. For unavoidable longer emails, break them up into short paragraphs and make them easy to navigate, maybe using bullets and headings.
  3. Highlight any action or decision that you’re asking the recipient to take. Assume he or she only has time to read the first couple of lines.

What would you lead with?

Lead with the Positive

When challenging issues have to be addressed inside of an email, pick an approach that won’t be misinterpreted.

Here are two examples from Webb that begin on a positive note:

     4. Lead with solutions, not problems. Instead of saying “Unfortunately, our original idea isn’t going to work because…, so what we are going to do is…,” lead with your proposed solution: “What we think will work best is… That’s different from our original plan because…” Same content, different sequence, different emotional impact.

   5. Engage the recipient on why it matters. Suppose somebody’s done something wrong. What do you say? “This is a terrible mess. You absolutely have to fix it.”

You’ll get action, but it might be based on defensive rather than smart thinking.

Try this approach, which engages their reward system by inviting them to pursue the benefits of resolving the problem: “This is critically important for us to get right because of XYZ. What can you do to fix it?

Check Your Timing

Now that you have a good idea of what to write, what is the best time to send your email?

Based on the analysis of 10 studies by Nathan Ellering at CoSchedule, get ready to prioritize your send days of critical email in this order:

Tuesday – This is hands down the #1 best day to send emails according to the majority of the data from these studies.

Thursday – If you send two (sets of critical) emails a week, choose Thursday for your second day.

Wednesday – While no single study showed that Wednesday was the most popular, it came in second place several times.

While many of the studies found varying results, here is how you can prioritize your send times based on data:

10 a.m: While late-morning send times were the most popular in general, several concluded that the best time to send emails is at 10 a.m. Another notable time is 11 a.m.

8 p.m-midnight: This one surprised me and I bet you didn’t expect that one. It looks like emails generally receive more opens and clicks later in the evening. As Campaign Monitor notes, this is likely due to people checking their email before going to bed.

Bringing Everything Together

In the comments section that follows, take a moment to share one of your favorite tips that has helped you capture busy professional’s attention through email.

 

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Kelly Isley is an international strategist, business leader, columnist, author, and pilot with more than 21 years of experience in the aerospace, finance, engineering, and healthcare industries. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and covers global workforce, workplace and leadership topics. If you have any suggestions for future articles please contact Kelly via email or twitter.