Email etiquette may seem unimportant within your business, but the correspondence between you and clients sets the tone for their experience. Everything that comes out of your office is a reflection of your business, even emails.
Use these 9 tips to create more professional and consistent emails:
- Know the difference between To and Cc– The To: line should hold the email of the person or people you are addressing. You can add people who should stay informed on the happenings of the email chain but aren’t specifically addressed to the Cc: line.
- Be intentional in your subject line– There’s a reason email templates have subject lines. Use it to your advantage, and tell the recipient why you are sending the message. We always title our Modthink emails with the name of the project along with specifically what you will be discussing in the chain like “WCOB Social Media Cleanup” and “Bookskeep Weekly Update.”
- Be sure to specifically address the recipient– Start the email with a greeting followed by the person’s name. “Dear” is always a safe bet, but “Good Morning”, “Good Afternoon” etc. are also nice to use for some variation. Some people hesitate to use “Hi” in fear that it isn’t formal enough, but we use it all the time, especially if we are familiar with the client.
- Use specific but simple language– In a business setting, there is often a tendency to use big words and wordy sentences, but these are often just jargon. Don’t beat around the bush. Say what you need to say in the clearest way possible. One thing I always consider is the recipient’s prior knowledge of what I am trying to explain. If this knowledge is little, then outline and explain everything in the email. The worst thing that can happen is you repeat information that the recipient already knows. Too much information is better than too little.
- Space out the text– A block of text is very unappealing to the eye and difficult for most people to read. I usually try to make my paragraphs no more than 2 sentences and often, only one.
- Reiterate the take-away message– if your email is lengthy, your reader can lose track of the main point. It’s usually helpful to repeat the main point of the email in the last sentence. This will ensure that the reader takes away the right message. It is usually helpful to follow this with an offer to answer any questions they may have. Sometimes, if I know the subject of an email is confusing, I invite the email recipients to reply feedback telling me if I forgot to include anything or if any part of the email is unclear.
- Include an appropriate salutation– There are endless options for salutations. I usually stick to “All the best”. If I am asking someone to do something, I sign off with “Thanks in advance”. “Sincerely” is always a safe bet.
- Pay attention to who you reply to- Only “Reply to All” if every recipient in the chain should receive it. We always do this so everyone involved in a project stays in the know, but it’s a personal preference. The important thing is that you are intentional when choosing recipients.
- Stay organized– If your email chain starts getting off topic, start a new chain specific to that subject. When you have to search through your inbox to find a specific chain, you will thank yourself.
While I am a fan of the adage “don’t sweat the small stuff”, email etiquette isn’t as small as you may think. Follow these tips to write professional and organized emails!