An email can never replace the value of a face-to-face meeting, or the direct clarity of a quick phone call.
However, with the vast majority of our communications happening electronically, it's important to know the best way to be heard. Your message can easily be lost - or ignored - if there are many recipients, glaring errors, large attachments, or an excess of information.
If an email is the best solution for reaching your customers, follow these 5 tips for Email Etiquette.
1. Separate your Work and Personal emails. Period.
Email is NEVER private! Even if your boss isn't snooping through your company-owned email account, if there's any reason why you wouldn’t want your message to appear on a billboard someplace, don’t say it. Likewise, emailing a professional contact from your personal email regarding your daughter's Girl Scout Cookie sale could also cause a sticky situation, or some crumbled feelings. Keep the work account professional and the personal account personal.
2. Proofread before sending.
So you missed that typo? Well, your recipient saw it and now they have judged you. Sending an email with typos or outdated information can send the message that your work is sloppy and that you don’t value their time. Why should a potential customer trust you or have confidence in your business' ability to handle their money if you can't handle proofreading? Spelling, grammar, and punctuation count. And while we're at it - avoid using all caps! You don't want to seem like you're yelling. Ultimately, if your reader has to translate your email so that it makes sense, then it's likely going to be disregarded.
3. Maintain a professional subject line.
A detailed subject line is the best way to knock on any conversation's door and have it opened for you. Be specific, and don’t be afraid to write a full descriptive phrase that clearly states what's in the email (and why it's worth opening!) Providing your reader with a clear subject will get your message read much sooner amongst the masses of communication they see every day. Flagging messages as “urgent” or “low priority” isn’t necessary when the subject is clear.
4. Use complete sentences.
Is text messaging ruining English? Some would say yes, that in fact overusing abbreviations or "text speak" can portray that you may not be able to speak proper English, or you just aren't serious about your business. Professional emails should be written as if they were to your grandmother (who still calls you from a home phone with a cord). Abbreviated text or acronyms such as LOL or U R just aren’t considered professional, and can easily misconstrue your tone. Excessive punctuation and using caps can also be viewed as aggressive so try and avoid both for the sake of communication.
5. Keep the recipient list relevant.
“Reply All” should be a button marked in RED. It's important to only include people on an email thread when they really need to be involved. When there are too many individuals copied in a message, it becomes very easy to jam up an inbox with irrelevant replies. Requesting delivered and read receipts can also be a real nuisance. Be considerate of how many messages your recipients are receiving in a day and stick to the point. You will be appreciated for it more than you know.
The lack of good email etiquette can cost a business dearly. Experts estimate that 15% of our business success comes from our skills and knowledge, whereas the majority of it, 85%, comes from our ability to connect with other people. And, with a whopping 84% of daily email being considered spam, making sure your email avoids the delete button is critical!
If you keep these 5 tips in mind and by really staying aware of your purpose, your recipients will understand your message, and respect the effort you have made in your communication.