Every businessperson should know how to send a proper email. That entails more than knowing just how to literally send one. Emails often embody the relationship between businesses and clients as well as between businesses and businesses. An easy way to break or ruin that relationship: throw email etiquette rules out the window. However, if your goal is to have strong relationships while having your emails read, you’ll follow these 12 email etiquette rules for every email you write.
Save the Recipient Address for Last
Just in case you are writing an email as you read this, we’ll include this tip first: wait until you’ve completed the entire email before entering the recipient’s email address. Why? Because otherwise, you may accidentally send the email prematurely with only half a message or with something you typed but never would have seriously wanted that person to see. Just play it safe and save this step for last.
Use Your Company Email Address
Your email address creates a first impression and a lasting impression. As a businessperson, your goal should be to keep all communications professional. Using your personal email address with a crazy nickname is not the way to do that. Your email address should immediately convey to the recipient your name as well as the business you work for.
Include a Signature
At the end of your emails, include a signature block. This should include your name, contact info such as your phone number, your job title, the name of your business, and a professional headshot of yourself. A signature block like this helps boost the professionalism of your correspondence.
Always Include a Clear, Direct Subject Line
People use email subject lines to determine if they want to read, skip, or delete your email. And if you can’t think of a subject, definitely don’t leave it blank. A “no subject” subject line is almost a guarantee to have your email deleted. Think about what your email is about and sum it up in a few words that will be catching enough to make someone care to read the email.
Keep Emails to One Subject Only
Whatever your subject line says the email is about, that is exactly what the email should contain. No more, no less. If you include more than one subject in one email, you run the risk of the recipient responding to only one of those subjects and you having to send a second email inquiring about your initial email. Save yourself some time and minimize confusion by limiting an email to one subject at a time.
Make the Content Easily Digestible
Your subject line is the summary of your email. Now everything within that email should be in support of that one subject only. Since most people will only skim an email, think about what you want them to read the most. Set those things apart from the rest of your text with formatting such as using headings and bullet points. Try to avoid sending anyone a block of text. Most people won’t take the time to read that.
Use Professional Language
Once you begin to write your message, stick to professional greetings and language. Say “Hi” or “Hello” instead of “Hey” or “What’s up.” And avoid relaxed, conversational lingo unless you are emailing a close friend aside from business.
Be Careful when Using Humor
Along with staying professional, be wary of everything you say in general. Without facial expressions or an audible tone, things like humor can get lost and be taken the wrong way. Rather than offend someone accidentally, keep humor and sarcasm to a minimum and make sure it’s in obvious jest.
Keep Your Tone Pleasant
Just as people can’t always hear humor in an email, they also can’t interpret your overall tone. One message could be taken multiple ways if read with different voice inflections. Since the message recipient can’t hear or see your words coming from you, make sure you avoid any negative words. Instead, stick to pleasant words such as “please” and “thank you” to keep the tone sounding kind rather than demanding or negative.
Proofread Every Message
For some people, autocorrect can become their enemy. Misspelled words can take on entirely different meanings when autocorrect takes hold of them and tries to read your mind about what you meant to type. Nothing says unprofessional like misspelled words or bad grammar in an email. Even the most detail-oriented person can make a mistake. So always proofread what you’ve written. If you can, ask a coworker to also read over your email just in case you missed something the second time around as well.
Double Check the Recipient
This goes along with proofreading your content. Double check that your email is going to the right person. You could have several people in your address book that have similar names. Recipient mistakes happen all the time. Just a couple seconds of your time can save you tons of time later to resolve the issue.
Reply to Every Email
Do your best to keep people from wondering. If someone emails you to ask you to do something, don’t make them wait until you’ve done as they’ve asked for them to even know you got their message. Since most people get a lot of emails every day, the possibility of a message getting lost is high. So as best as you can, respond to every email, unless you know that person prefers otherwise. And especially reply to emails that have been sent to you by mistake to let the sender know the intended recipient never got their message. When it comes to responding to emails, use common sense. You wouldn’t send someone a Thank You card for sending you a Thank You card; so don’t send an email to say “Okay” when they send you an email saying “Got it!” Learn people’s email preferences and reply when appropriate.
Poor email etiquette has the potential to ruin business and client relationships. Just by making sure you follow these email etiquette rules, you can ensure those relationships stay strong.