Email Etiquette 101: Five Best Practices for Writing Professional Emails
While it may seem like email is on the out and texting is now the standard—email is still the main way that businesses communicate with one another and within the company. With 269 billion emails being sent and received each day in 2017, clearly, email is still the chosen path of communication. However, I’m sure that we’ve all seen some not so great emails—maybe you’ve gotten one that even minorly offended you because it was written so poorly. No business wants to send emails that aren’t taken seriously because they are simply poorly written and styled. Here are five tips to always follow when writing emails:
1. Have an Appropriate Subject Line
Think about it—before you open an email, the subject line is the first thing you see. Having an inappropriate, boring, or misleading subject line is the first thing that will lead to your email being sent straight to spam or trash. Try to entice your audience or recipient with a catchy subject line that isn’t too long. Remember, people can get hundreds of emails each day, so they are likely skimming their inbox for what looks important to them. With that being said, studies show that emails with subject lines between 1 to 20 characters have the highest open rates, even though the majority of emails sent have subject lines that are 31 to 50 characters in length. If your email isn’t one that sparks urgency or curiosity, then information that you deem valuable to your reader may end up being missed. Last, make sure your subject line matches the content within the actual email message.
2. Formality levels
Only time and relationship building can determine the level of formality used when communicating by email. If this is your first communication with another business, it’s better to be more formal than not to be. It’s always the best practice to ensure you are addressing the recipient by name. This makes the recipient feel more valued and less like a generic sales pitch. A good rule of thumb is to communicate at all times as if your email is on your company letterhead. Since we are focusing on personalization here as well, it’s important to briefly introduce yourself. Overall, just be as clear and to the point as possible with your message.
3. Don’t Bore the Recipient
Time is precious to busy business men and women. Opening an email, only to see it doesn’t apply to them or their business at all is incredibly frustrating (and a sure fire way to get added to their spam list). With that being said, keep your email simple and to the point. Make the recipient see the value of your offer. Finally, it may seem rude to not respond to an email, but it’s not necessary to respond with one-liners. Sending an “Okay” or “Thank you” doesn’t advance the conversation at all and just leaves your recipient feeling like they are at an awkward dead end. Lastly, space out your main points into brief paragraphs. This makes it easier for the reader to skim the email for the key points, and ensures they won't be missing anything important.
4. Don’t Use Special Characters, Fonts, or Colors—ever
This may seem like common sense, but surprisingly it’s not. While it’s tempting to use that comic sans MS font that we all grew up loving, it’s not appropriate for professional email. Sure, it’s okay to give your email a distinct flair, so long as it’s readable and all other best practices are followed. It’s also tempting to use exclamation points since your service is super exciting to you, and you really want to make that sale, but exclamation points should only be used sparingly. The maximum number of exclamation points that should be used in any email is surprisingly only one. And please, DON’T USE ALL CAPS (or all lowercase all the time). We’re not trying to yell at our leads, nor should we have forgotten the importance of capitalizing the first letter of names and sentences (that was branded into our minds in early elementary school).
5. Have a Good Signature
You never want someone to have to look up how to get in touch with you (remember how I said time is precious?). Having an email signature that makes it easy and intuitive for your reader to contact you back is extremely important. People want to see your smiling face and know exactly what your company and title is. As stated before, personalization is key to keep your reader interested. If you need help with your signature, download our free email signature template here.
Most importantly, remember that your email is a reflection of you and your business. The way your email is laid out can give the recipient an impression of how you’re laid out as a businessperson. If your email comes off as messy and/or disorganized, you’re giving the recipient the visual of you being messy and/or disorganized yourself (and no one wants to do business with someone like that). Best of luck in all your email endeavors.