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Openings for Emails

Bev’s question: “In my company, we have been told to start any email response to our customers with ‘Thank you for your email.’ What do you think?”BizwritingTip response: There is nothing wrong with the sentence in terms of grammar or etiquette. But I don’t like it for a number of reasons.

First, what are you thanking them for? For sending you a message? Did you have nothing else to do that day? The statement is insincere and a waste of the reader’s time. And it’s too vague.

Second, today’s readers are skimmers. When they read the first sentence in an email – particularly if they are reading from a Blackberry or iphone – they immediately want to know why they should be reading it. They want to know the WII-FM (What’s in it for me).

On average, it takes readers eight seconds to fully move their thought processes from one email to another. You can reduce that time period by being more direct and specific in your opening lines.

Examples of Better Opening Lines
As you requested, here is …
As you requested in your last email, I immediately …
I agree with your comments and …
I have investigated your concerns regarding …
I am happy to answer your questions about …

Note: People skim emails. Don’t expect them to keep subject lines in their heads while they read your first line. For example, don’t ever write “With regard to the above-mentioned project.” In addition, it’s too formal for the tone you want in your messages.