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Why Proper Business Email Etiquette Matters

Lucas Bikowski

The messages you send to customers, co-workers and others reflects on you.

Having replaced business communications, such as fax, face-to-face meetings, and physical letters, email is a key communication tool both in the workplace and with clients. Now one of the most common points of contact in the business environment, it has increased the efficiency of many business processes.

Despite the invention of new communication tools, email remains one of the most important forms of messaging for businesses. This is because it provides a professional space for people to discuss issues with their colleagues or for companies to reach out to customers without being intrusive.

Consequently, it is vital to have good email etiquette. Knowing how to compose and send a digital letter properly is essential for your business reputation and client response. Email etiquette is a key part of your professional image and is integral to your customer service.

Having good email etiquette can determine whether you leave a good impression on someone or not. As stated by Peter Post, your message reflects on you as a person. Especially in the case of customer communications, take care to ensure you are sending the right message through your digital letter.

Components such as titles, formatting, and text should follow a certain standard so that your message is succinct, sophisticated and effective. When it's used well, email can be a great tool to engage your clients and build good, professional business relationships. For this to happen, you should follow certain standards for good email etiquette.

Reviewing your written content

The content of your digital message is a substantial part of email etiquette. The appropriate tone and phrasing will vary depending on the recipient. Regardless, there are some guidelines relevant to all digital letters.

Proofreading is important for any message. It's unprofessional to have any typos or misplaced punctuation marks in your email, and it suggests that you haven't put a lot of effort into composing it. It also paints you as a disorganized person.

You should also avoid any text abbreviations. Abbreviations have the potential to confuse the recipient and muddle your message.

It's a good idea to avoid humor and emojis as they can be hard to distinguish in a purely textual form. Remember, the recipient will read your email in their own way. You should read your message aloud to get a better idea of how it can be interpreted by the recipient. Ultimately, consider who will read the message and adjust your letter accordingly.

Formatting and visual appeal

It might not be the first thing you think about, but the formatting and visual appeal of your digital letter are important, because they determine how clearly your message is presented to the recipient.

Just as you would communicate clearly and politely to someone in person, your digital letter should be formatted neatly and contain information that is relevant. Make sure there aren't any unnecessary brackets in your email that will make it look messy. Use a classic font, color, and size to ensure the message is easy to read and retains an air of professionalism.

The spacing in your email should be balanced and allow for an easy reading experience. Utilize punctuation to format your message appropriately.

Email appropriateness

If you are sending an email to your clients or anyone you do not have an ongoing correspondence with, consider how appropriate it is for you to send a digital message.

When used in the right situation, email can be a great way to engage your customer base by providing them with useful information. But if your message is perceived as intrusive and useless, it can harm your business image and customer satisfaction.

Consider the information contained in your message and whether it will be appreciated by the recipient. Evaluate whether the information is best communicated through a digital letter rather than a phone call or physical letter.

Utilise email functions properly

Ensure that you are using the features of a digital messaging system correctly. One of the key features in your email is the subject line. Your subject line should always be clear and concise.

Narrow down the purpose of your message to a short phrase and use that as your subject line. Any important content your digital letter contains should be highlighted. Consider what value it will provide to the recipient – making that evident in your subject line could be the difference between someone clicking on your message and not.

Be wary of the reply all function. If you have a query for an individual, consider sending them a separate message. Similarly, do not use the reply function to send a message to someone about a completely different topic. Compose a new digital letter so your email threads are organized.

Adding a signature block is a good idea so your contact details are available to your recipients.

Address your recipient correctly

It is common courtesy to address your recipient appropriately and include a short introduction if you aren't already acquainted.

Make sure that you use the right title and name for your recipient – this shows that you respect them, and it personalizes your message. Assume the highest level of courtesy unless your recipient specifies otherwise.

Introducing yourself also helps build a connection to your recipient, making them more familiar with you as a person or your business.

Good email etiquette is essential in order to utilize this digital tool for your business and present a professional image. Because it's such a vital part of business communications today, it is important that you are informed about the qualities of a good digital message.

Image Credit: igorstevanovic/Shutterstock
Lucas Bikowski Member
Founder and Managing Director of SEO Shark - an Australian digital media agency. Lucas specializes in SEO (Search Engine Optimization), link building, AdWords, social media.