Written by Nicole Banister (@theycallmebanz)
I get complimented on my emails regularly. I know — it’s a strange thing for which to receive compliments. Oftentimes it’s the superficial (yet arguably still flattering) things like my outfit or hair that garner all the praise. Other times it’s an exciting fellowship program I’ve been accepted into or a new article I’ve written. But an email? Why would anyone dole out compliments on an email?
Email communication is a standard part of life, whether for personal or professional purposes. There are 3.9 billion active email users across the globe and nearly 281 billion emails are sent and received every single day. Although there are really popular non-email communication platforms like Trello and Slack where professional teams can quickly and informally chat with one another around projects and deadlines, even platforms like these are usually still synced to an email address.
With all this time spent emailing, there are three things I recommend to pique peoples’ interest in an email: insert a unique “P.S.” in your email signature, create memorable out-of-office emails, and have a sharp, relevant display picture.
Let’s talk about the out-of-office emails first. When OOO, it’s standard professional protocol to set up an away message that lets others know how long you’ll be out and who the next best person is to contact while you’re unavailable. This “vacation responder” automatically sends to every person, bot, and listserv that sends you an email while you’re gone. This is an unparalleled opportunity to share new and interesting information with an already captive audience. Someone had to email you first in order to receive your OOO message, meaning whether or not they know you already, they wanted to talk to you. You can’t talk to them immediately because you’re not there, but you can still tell them something.
Here’s an example of one of my recent out-of-office emails:
In this email, I’ve included a couple different things:
No matter how fun and intriguing your OOO email is, remember that it must still cover the basics. You actually do need to share how someone can reach you urgently, who your next point of contact is, and when you’ll be back online. Apart from that, use your out-of-office email to dazzle.
Now let’s talk about the “P.S.” P.S. means postscript – it’s an afterthought, one final addition before officially sending a letter or email. If within your company’s email protocol, add a P.S. to your email signature around your name and title. The P.S. is a call to action. It draws your reader to new and relevant information you want them to know about. Maybe you just released a new research report. Maybe you just uploaded an exciting new video. Maybe you’re collecting votes to win a competition. Whatever it is, keep it short, keep it sweet, and keep it hyperlinked.
Here are some examples of my previous email signature P.S.:
Remember, you don’t need to create a new P.S. with each new email. Add your P.S. to your email signature so that every time you send an email, your P.S. automatically sends with it. Switch your P.S. once a month or once every couple of weeks depending on the frequency in which you send emails.
Finally, do not forget that your email address, similar to your social media accounts, is a digital representation of you. Everything that accompanies your email address contributes to the impression that someone has of you. This includes your display picture.
For a personal email account, select a picture that is high-quality, representative of who you are, and clearly showing your face. Maybe it’s a picture of you doing something you love or a picture of you in one of your favorite places. People will look at your picture and make assumptions about you — give them a reason to assume the best, and let them start to associate your photo with your name even if they’ve never met you.
When using a professional email account, you have a couple different options. Firstly, you could simply upload the logo of your brand or business. If you’d rather personalize it, use a clear, high-quality headshot or another professional photo within the context of your work. The most important thing to remember about your professional email account is that it does not represent you personally — it represents the company. Do not have a personal selfie or group shot of you and your friends. Do not have a random photo that you like but does not reflect the brand. Your work email account represents the organization as a whole, so if you’re not going to use a professional headshot or photo of you in your company’s gear, the next best option is the business’ logo.
Next time you send an email, include a quick P.S., a memorable out-of-office message, and a relevant picture. Try it out for a week or two and then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me how it goes!