Whether we like it or not, email is still the primary mode of communication online. That’s not going to change any time soon.
We’ve got instant messenger, Twitter, Skype, message boards, project management tools, messaging applications, etc. The list of ways to communicate online is endless.
But email still rules the day. And it still works.
Of course, the problems with email are clear. People are overwhelmed with the volume of email they receive. They scan and skim instead of reading things in-depth.
The result – when asking a question via email – is a strong possibility you don’t get the answer you need. You might not get an answer at all…
And that’s frustrating. You can’t keep asking the same question over and over, and presumably you’re asking the question because you really want an answer.
Tip: The last question you ask in an email is the one that will get answered.
People will skim your email, get to the bottom and see a call to action. If you’ve peppered your email with other questions, it’s very likely people will miss them, or won’t bother responding. They will key in on the last question.
- Be careful about adding a PS question. This is typically the most casual question, it’s an attempt at extracting just a bit more information and continuing the conversation. But it’s rarely the most important question (although sometimes it can be!)
- Put questions on their own line. Even if this doesn’t make complete sense from a reading/writing flow perspective, do it anyway. Make questions stand out.
- Make the last question the most important one. The one you need answered.
It comes down to smart copywriting.
Sending email is about telling a compelling story and encouraging action. Don’t fool yourself: Email is a great sales and marketing tool. It’s a great research tool. It’s a great relationship building tool. But to extract value from email means writing in a well-formatted, easily digestible manner.
And if you’re asking questions in email – focus your energy on the last one you ask. Make it count, because that’s the one people will answer.