Write Your Emails Backwards for Better Responses

Email Backwards

Do your emails go unanswered?

Do you write lengthy explanations about what you need, only to be ignored?

If you want better response rates to your emails, you need to get to the point.

A great technique to ensure that your emails are acted upon is to write them backwards.

Emails Unanswered

Think about the emails you receive.

Ever read a long message, only to get to the end and wonder, “What was that all about?”

What do you do next? You close the message without responding. Or you delete or archive the message.

This is what is happening to many of the messages you are sending, as well.

If you feel like you need to write a book in order to explain your issue, then it shouldn’t be an email in the first place. You are using the wrong medium. That is why your emails are not getting read. They need to be concise and direct.

“Email should be short. And emails should be clear. And emails should be straight to the point.”

To write better emails that actually get a response, you need to be so direct that your messages cannot be misunderstood.

Write Your Emails Backwards

The email mistake made by many is to bury their question at the end of a lengthy text.

In a sea of emails, if your recipient has to spend more than a few moments deciphering your message, it is going to get skipped.

Here is a key tactic to getting your emails read and responded to:

Put the action, request, or most important information in the first line of the email.

In essence, you want to write your email backwards.

Don’t wait until the end of your email to ask your question or to make your request. Instead, ask your question first.

Make it the very first line in your message. Then, add whatever short text you need to support the decision or response. This makes it easy for the recipient to know what you want, and even easier for them to respond.

Even if your email is an informational one, use this tactic by putting the “one thing” that you want the reader to take away as the first line.

Ask First for Better Email Responses

We all receive a daily flood of emails. To get a quick response, make sure you get to the point immediately.

If your message is too long or the request is unclear, it will be put aside or ignored.

Make it immediately clear what the message is about, and easy for the recipient to read and respond.

Write your emails backwards. You will notice a dramatic increase in your response rate.

Question: Are you emails concise and to the point? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

32 thoughts on “Write Your Emails Backwards for Better Responses

  1. That is so true. I have often written lengthy emails only to go back and delete most of it. As I was proofing, I realized the recipient really didn’t care about all those details. I thought they were relevant but they wouldn’t. I, personally, love receiving short, to-the-point emails.

  2. Better yet, know your audience. Some people are inductive listeners, others are deductive. Knowing whether your audience wants the details first or the main point first makes all the difference. Hint: most senior management want the point first. If they want the details, they’ll ask for it.

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  3. Brilliant suggestion, but this article does not reflect it well, as it says over and over that we should get to the point…

  4. In my Army days, we used to call this BLUF (bottom line upfront). Useful both in written and verbal communications.

  5. During conversation, I frequently ask people to skip to the end. Imagine how much time I spend reading poorly written messages?

    1. Bet you’re popular at parties with that one, Seamus 😉
      PS I’m only envious that I can’t get away with it!

  6. While I like the alternative thinking – aka – you would assume that the call-to-action would be at the bottom of the email rather than the top as that is how it is with landing pages I think it is probably best to ask twice. Once at the beginning of the email and once at the end of the email. Or maybe once in the subject line of the email so they know what to expect and then at the end.

    1. If you are asking twice, I think you might want to look at the length of your email.

      I do like descriptive Subject lines, but find that most people don’t read them again once the email is open.

  7. Nice post. I was actually thinking its best to write the email as if it was for you. What would you want to see, how much would be too much for you? Most times, i blowing through the email looking for the point.

  8. This is a great tip. I think of it like a mini thesis statement (aka…you wouldn’t write a very good paper if you didn’t put your point in the introduction and then spend the body proving it). Putting the point/question at the end of an email will only force someone to reread your email with that context (if they reread it at all!)


  9. That is really a nice thought process of writing emails backwards for better responses. I believe this would also help in better productivity and efficiency for any business. Another way can be the use of Google outlook integrated with calendar etc.

    There are so many other things that also counts for better management of your business and time and that includes better time and project management. This includes use of some good time management software such as Replicon product suite, the one that helped and increased the complete efficiency of our business project.

  10. Good article. I can be very verbose so I need to work on this or use this strategy. Would have liked an example or two in the article to make it crystal clear. Thanks!

  11. As I’ve been learning, I continue working on the idea that “less is more” and that the most important thing to make very clear is your call to action and/or the point of the message.

    Sometimes it’s hard to balance this and giving your customers a good experience that doesn’t just treat them like a sales number, but if you play your cards right then you’ll be saving them time and effort from having to read a whole lot.

    Anything that can make a better experience for the reader and/or customer is what we should strive for.

    Brad Hodson

  12. This is a very good tip for starts up and freelancers such as myself. I need to ask this question (Sorry if it is a repeated one) If you are reaching out, if you are writing the emails backwards; when do you introduce yourself?

    For example, Hello Mr X, I want to work with you, here’s my portfolio. By the way, I’m (INSERT name here) and I am a (Job title)

    Just want to know your thoughts on keeping the email concise and have a better response rate.

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