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Career Advice

How to Write A Perfectly Persuasive Email

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated August 15, 2017
|5 min read

Email is an essential part of our lives today.

If you’re looking to get hired, you’ll most certainly have to use email during the recruiting process. If you already have a job, then you’ll more likely than not have to use email at some point to communicate with your colleagues and superiors — according to research by Pew Research, email has been found to be essential to the job of at least 61 percent of people.

Research has shown email’s effectiveness, whether it’s in the workplace or for marketing, to be unrivaled. While email can for the most part be automated today, thanks to email services and apps that have evolved over time, there’s something that can’t be automated: the persuasiveness of your email.

Whether it is to effectively carry out your job, to apply for a job you desire or for marketing purposes, below are some tips to help you write persuasive emails.

Work on Your Subject Line

People are busy. Over 2.6 million emails are sent every second, and you can count on the recipient of your email being overwhelmed with email at all time. How do you get through the barriers and get people to open your email message in the first place? Work on your subject line!

In a study of 1,000 executives working in companies on the Fortune 500 and Inc 500 lists, a researcher found that one of the key factors that determine whether people will open and respond to your email or not is the subject line. The study specifically found that short, curiosity-driven subject lines always outperform longer subject lines.

No matter your email genius, the first step is to have your email opened. Employ short, curiosity-driven subject lines to attract the attention of your subjects and watch the response to your emails increase.


In a study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, researchers tried to see if servers can increase tips from their patrons by using personalization. The study found that servers who used personalization were able to increase tips by 21 percent compared to servers who didn’t personalize.

We live in an increasingly impersonal world, thanks to increasing proliferation of technology. Most emails are completely impersonal, so when you get that one email that feels personally addressed to you… you take notice. No wonder Dale Carnegie said that the sweetest sound to anyone is the sound of the person’s name.

Before writing any email, do your due research and ensure it is addressed, by name, to the right person. Including that personal touch to your email can significantly improve the persuasiveness of your emails.

Keep it Simple, Stupid

The true art of persuasion lies in getting so much across while saying little. Many people assume that persuasive emails have to be an epistle, in which they detail their life story. In fact, research shows that the opposite is the case. A study conducted by Greentarget found that journalists, who are often the recipients of the most emails, spend less than one minute on average on every email they open.

In fact, according to Adam Crouch, an executive at FCR, embracing the KISS principle could mean the difference between your emails being responded to or deleted: “Extremely busy individuals don’t have time for long emails, with the details and structure similar to most collegiate papers. If they see long emails, often times they are deleted or not opened.

When you realize that you have just one minute to get your message across to the recipient of your email, your approach changes. Some tips include:

  • Keep things very simple. Every word, sentence and paragraph that are not necessary should be eliminated.
  • Highlight key facts earlier on in your email; arrange your email in such a way that the most important points you want to be seen are included first.
  • If you really have to write a long email, summarize the content of the email using bullets so that busy people are able to scan it.

Include Humor in Your Emails

Researchers have found, that if used wisely, humor can aid persuasion.

The role of humor in making an email more persuasive should not be underestimated. Research shows that half of all email users check their emails when bored; when you include a little bit of humor and are able to catch their attention, they are likely to find your email more persuasive.

Get Your Grammar Right

Email and grammar are two things very few people connect. However, research has shown that your grammar can have either a positive or negative effect on how you are perceived -- both in emails and in relationships. Psychologists have found that when an email is riddled with grammatical errors, people perceive the writer to be less intelligent, less trustworthy and less conscientious.

According to Nicholas Dutko, CEO of Auto Transport Quote Services, one of key things he pays attention to when reviewing emails from job seekers is the grammar of the job seeker: “If a job seeker can’t be bothered to properly proofread his or her emails when applying for the job, then it speaks of the job seeker’s competency and attention to details.”

Whether it is to get a job or to carry out your job duties, you’re most likely expecting people to take you seriously and see you as someone capable. Having emails riddled with grammatical errors sends the exact opposite message. It reduces your persuasiveness.


John Stevens is the CEO of Hosting Facts. He is a regular contributor to top publications including Business Insider, Adweek, Internet Retailer and Entrepreneur.

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