Writing Email
Illustration by Neil Webb

Writing Email

with Judy Steiner-Williams
lynda.com's PMI® Program
This course qualifies for 1.00 PDUs towards maintaining PMI® certification. Learn More

Video: Personalizing your message

The only way you can personalize your Beginning January 1, you will be able to purchase our

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Watch the Online Video Course Writing Email
1h 13m Appropriate for all Apr 01, 2014

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Discover the secrets to writing powerful emails your colleagues will read and answer by crafting your message and delivery. In this short course, author and business writing professor Judy Steiner-Williams shows you how to write emails for maximum readability and impact. Discover how to craft a compelling opening, how to message the right people at the right time, and how to leverage etiquette to use email as one of many communications tools.

This course qualifies for 1 Category A professional development unit (PDU) through lynda.com, PMI Registered Education Provider #4101.

Topics include:
  • Using email as a communication tool
  • Understanding the right time and the right tone to strike
  • Crafting strong subject lines and messages
  • Respecting confidentiality
  • Copying and bcc'ing
  • Including attachments

  • The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
Judy Steiner-Williams

Personalizing your message

The only way you can personalize your email message is to understand your audience. But understanding that audience is the tricky part. Personalizing your message to someone with whom you have a strong working relationship is usually easy. But trying to personalize messages to an individual you don't know or barely know, or to an audience composed of a variety of readers poses challenges. These questions need to be analyzed to begin the personalization process. Who is that primary audience and what is my relationship with that audience? One person, and is that person known or unknown? Or a mass group? Is the reader internal, a co-worker for example, or external, such as a client or customer? Also ask, what's the primary purpose of this message? Do I want just to give information and will my reader have a positive or negative reaction to the message's content? Or, am I trying to persuade my reader to take action? Such as volunteer for a company committee or set up a sales meeting with a particular client or maybe for the general public to try a new product? Other questions you need to ask are, what information does my audience already know or want and need to know? What aspects of the total situation may affect reader response? A repeat customer versus a first time customer, for example.

Are there any special circumstances involved? A no return sale, for example. What language and jargon will my reader expect and understand? Unless you have a technical background, for instance, computer jargon such as RAM, ROM and nibble probably don't mean a lot. A final question to ask is, what actions or follow-up, if any, do I want and expect from my reader and how can those be taken? An example would be, if you are requesting information, do you want that information by reply email, or a phone call, or a scheduled meeting? Look at this situation that needs to be personalized to three different groups.

Your company is adding a new line of environmentally friendly products. Beginning the first of the year. Let's analyze the three groups based on the relevant questions. The first group is the company employees. They have been involved in this discussion so are aware of the background. The message's primary purpose is to inform them when the product will be available to the public. That they will be trained on how to sell this new line and to thank them for their help. You want them to look for the next message about the training. The personalized email message to the employees is, Our new environmentally friendly line of paper products will go on the market January 1.

Three training meetings on how to sell these products' features are being scheduled. Watch for an email in the next couple weeks that will give you the details. Thanks for all your hard work in helping get this new product to the production line! The second audience, company shareholders. This message's purpose is to announce the new product line, to reassure the shareholders that the company is making smart business decisions to ensure continued profits. The tone of the language is more formal. The shareholders don't care about the training meet or how hard the employees worked, you hope your message makes them consider buying more stock in the company.

The personalized message to the shareholders is, To our shareholders. A new environmentally friendly line of paper products will begin production in the next couple months and be available to the public by the first of the year. Our company's business decisions are based on meeting your, our shareholders', desire to protect the environment and to maximize business success. Our past, present and future business decisions have been, and will continue to be, customer driven. Your continued trust in our company will result in continued profits.

Now, the third group we need to personalize for are those on our LISTSERV. The members of this group may have a variety of opinions on protecting the environment and about the possible added cost of these products. The primary purposes are to announce the new product, to get the readers interested in buying the product, and to show our company is doing its part to protect the environment. These readers will want to know the price increase, and we want to encourage sales and feedback. So finally, let's personalize to that group. Beginning January 1, you will be able to purchase our company's new environmentally-friendly paper products for only a 2% price increase.

Our company wants to do its part in meeting the ongoing public concern on protecting our environment. We are eager to hear your comments on these new products as we continue to meet customers' and society's needs. Three audiences, three different messages. Each personalized to that particular audience. Always analyze each reader, that reader's needs and wants, and your message's purpose.

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