Email is more than just a fast tool for communication, it sets the voice and tone for your business, especially when dealing with customers. Are your emails the best and most professional they can be? Consider these 10 etiquette tips before you send your next email.
Email has become a standard form of communication for close to 90 percent of U.S. internet users, especially those in business. In the world of professional written communication, there’s nothing that destroys someone’s credibility faster than typos or grammatical mistakes. Every email you send is delivered and stored in someone’s mailbox. Once you hit “send,” there’s no turning back.
Below are 10 etiquette tips you should follow before you send your next email.
A subject line is a poster board for your email and arguably the most important differentiator between open and discard.
To capture the receipients' attention, use a clear, concise subject line that accurately represents the body of your email message. If you’re planning a meeting with your colleagues, instead of just writing “meeting” use “Meeting January 15th” to be more specific. Avoid overly long subject lines. Remember that people are reading your emails on mobile devices. The best practice is to keep your subject line fewer than 50 characters long, according to Hubspot.
It’s always important to know your audience. If you’re emailing a colleague, your language may be a bit more informal than if you’re responding to a client. Generally, professional, direct language stays away from idioms and phrasal verbs. Replacing contractions such as “we can’t reschedule this meeting” with “we cannot reschedule this meeting” is more formal as well.
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A company email should always include an email signature. Your email signature should display your company’s name or logo, website, phone number and your name and title. Many professionals will also choose to display an electronic signature as well. An email signature should be consistent throughout the entire organization for branding and compliance purposes.
A consistent email signature not only legitimizes you professionally but gives people more information should they wish to contact you directly.
Overuse of word elements
Word elements are powerful when used properly, but can send the wrong message when misused.
Bolding emphasizes a sentence or phrase, drawing the reader’s attention to that particular text. It should be reserved for more important text within your email rather than just used at random.
Using capital letters is extremely risky. Outside of acronyms, titles or branded names, capital letters can come across as very aggressive when applied to normal text. PEOPLE MIGHT THINK YOU ARE ANGRY or shouting at them through written text. Only use capitalization when it’s necessary.
Have you ever received a text from a friend using an absurd amount of exclamation points and question marks?!? What might be OK in an informal text, is certainly interpreted differently in business. Question marks and exclamation points should be used as they are intended and without over repetition. There is no need to add four question marks at the end of a single question.
Have you ever opened up your email inbox to a never-ending list of new messages? Before you start firing off your responses, don’t forget to proofread. Proofreading your email is a good habit to get into before you hit “send.” Typos and grammatical mistakes are embarrassing and can quickly discredit a professional email. It only takes an extra minute or two, and you’ll be glad you did.
Add email address last
You’re in the middle of typing an email when all of a sudden your computer or keyboard decides to hit send before you’re finished typing. Sound familiar? It’s happened to the best of us. For important emails, it’s always a good idea to draft your email, proofread it and then put the email address in when you’re ready to send. This helps avoid any mistakes.
Your boss sends you an email about a company event copying all of your colleagues on it. You can’t go because you’ve got a doctor’s appointment for a mole removal that day. Is that information you really need to share with everyone? Probably not. Be careful with “Reply all." If your response isn’t relevant to everyone, then don’t send it.
If you’re planning on going on vacation, setting an automatic “out-of-office reply” is a common courtesy letting people know you’re not available. How much detail you are willing to share is up to you, but usually, the dates you will be out and who people can contact in your absence usually suffices.
Is email always best?
As we mentioned above, email is the most common and easiest mode of communication, but sometimes it’s not always the best option. The written language can be tricky to gauge meaning, tone and attitude. Many times an email can be read with a different interpretation than the writer intended. Instead of going back and forth over email, picking up the phone or walking into someone's office can offer a better solution.
To the point and readable
People are busy and emails that can be easily skimmed and quickly conveyed are appreciated. Be informative but to the point. If you are making multiple points, use bulleted or numbered lists for faster skimming.
So, how can you improve your emails? Following the tips in the list above will ensure your next email is professional, concise and error-free.