Why Your Emails Aren’t Getting the Response You Want

We send countless emails everyday. Sometimes, they are quick responses to co-workers or just a simple reply that does require much thought. We send these emails to people we already know and have working relationships with.

Other times, we are emailing for a job with our resumes attached, to pitch a story idea to a publication or an editor, or to collaborate on a project. These emails are more serious and require care and attention to detail before pressing send.

Let me ask you this: Are you getting the response you want with your emails? If not, you may want to reconsider your email etiquette and address these common mistakes I see everyday.

Here’s why your emails aren’t getting the response you want:

1. You are being too casual with your language.

If you’ve ever used abbreviated speech in your emails (“u,” “thx,” “pls,” etc.) you are doing it wrong. You need to be treating every email as if it is professional correspondence, because that is exactly what it is.

Casual language comes across as disrespectful and represents a relationship you don’t have yet. These shortened words may be fine for text messages with your friends, but you should never, ever use them in an email. Especially if you have never met the person you hope to correspond with.

Your email lacks other social cues such as body language that an in-person conversation would provide. This is why it is especially important that you watch your tone, grammar, and language — the text on your screen is the only thing you have to work with.

2. You are talking to no one.

Sure, you’ve put an email address in the “to” field but if you haven’t done your research to find out who will be reading your message, you might as well not send your email at all. 

In our digital world, you have virtually no excuse not know who you are writing to. Use LinkedIn, Twitter, or the company’s masthead to find the name of the person you want to talk to.

Emails that start with “Hi,” or “Hello team,” or “To whom it may concern” are pointless. Those greetings concern no one.

3. Your subject isn’t clear.

While people may refresh their inbox multiple times per day, most people don’t spend all day reading and replying to their emails. 

If you want your email to be noticed and replied to, be very clear with your subject line. There is no need to be superfluous or witty — the more direct you are the better.

4. You aren’t succinct or polite.

Briefly introduce yourself, and get to the point of your email. Never be demanding. The fact of the matter is that no one owes you anything and doesn’t have to do anything for you, regardless of how entitled you think you are.

Tip: If you think your recipient may need to know more about you, include a brief bio below your signature that they can read if they choose to.

Are your emails not getting you the response you want? You might still be making one of these seven mistakes

5. You forgot that your email isn’t about you, it’s about them.

The worst thing you can do for yourself is assume that you are a godsend to them. If you want to work with someone, illustrate how you would be a good fit for the organization by showcasing your work that relates to them.

Quickly establish yourself as knowledgeable and they will easily see your value.

Tip: People hate downloading attachments, so if you want to direct someone to sample or your resume, provide a link where they can easily view it online.

6. You haven’t done any research.

This should go without saying, but frankly, I think it needs to be said. Before you send off a pitch or a request, do your research on the company and the person you are emailing. Like I said in number two, you have no excuse for not knowing about the person you are emailing.

Establish a connection with them — say you read something they wrote, give a compliment without sucking up, and/or mention a mutual connection (if you have one).

Additionally, do research to establish the tone you should take, the content you should pitch, and what is a good fit for the person/brand you are reaching out to.

For example, you wouldn’t pitch a website aimed at career and personal development for twenty-somethings on technology for new start-ups, now would you? This is guaranteed not to get you anywhere. Make it a point to know your audience. 

7. You neglected to say “thank you.”

Just as you started off and wrote the body of the email politely, you need to finish it off the same way. Always thank your recipient for their time and let them know you look forward to hearing back from them.

Dust of your “sincerely” and “best” salutations because they are as professional as you can get. You want to polish off your email with the professional tone you hope to convey. Don’t get to this point and let it all fall apart because you chose to use “bye” or “talk to you later.”

When in doubt, always err on the side of top notch professionalism. Some people may respond to you more casually, however, until you’ve established a working relationship, keep your tone the same as in your first email.

If you aren’t getting the response you want to your email, it’s time to go back to the etiquette board and start from the beginning. Too many ideas fail before they even have the chance to get off the ground because of unprofessional emails. Don’t let yours be one of them.