Lots of professionals understand how to use email properly, but few always use proper email etiquette. That is due to the sheer volume of messages we receive and respond to daily. For the most part, email etiquette is common sense, but we often forget about it whenever there’s plenty to do. Having a lot to do on a given day makes us more prone to making email etiquette mistakes. These mistakes can have severe consequences for our careers as entrepreneurs or businesspeople. In this article, we’ll cover some easy to remember email etiquette tips that you can start using right away.
Why Is Email Etiquette Important?
Email etiquette is crucial because it can affect the impression others get about you according to research. In other words, the way you approach email communications can impact your professionalism. Proper email etiquette also improves your efficiency in handling emails. For instance, short and to-the-point emails are better received and take less time to write.
Additionally, you can protect yourself from liability since following proper rules of email etiquette keeps you on your toes in a good way. For example, you’ll usually be more aware of the dangers involved with emailing the wrong information, which can prevent unwanted lawsuits.
When it comes to email, you have to sweat the small stuff. Here are some practical email etiquette tips that are easy to remember.
1. Use A Professional Business Email Address
Your email address extension is something that many people check. Prospects might not take you seriously if they see a standard email extension like @hotmail.com. So try to send emails with an official company extension unless you can’t, such as when your email marketing platform is incompatible. Using a professional business email can inspire confidence and show credibility, which is good for business.
2. Maintain A Professional Tone
You usually can’t get to know people well enough through email communication alone. As a result, the best policy is to keep your tone professional at all times. Your message should be formal unless you know the person well, but even then, we’d recommend maintaining a professional tone.
3. Use Clear and Descriptive Subject Lines
Your subject line should be concise and descriptive for a few reasons. One, emails that use clear subject lines generally have higher response rates. Two, it shows the recipient that you respect their time. Three, the subject line is the first thing a recipient sees and is typically the bases for their decision to read or ignore your email. Your email communications will yield better results if you use concise and informative subject lines.
4. Short and Concise Emails Are Better
When it comes to email communication, the shorter, the better, keeping your emails short plus to-the-point is good for both you and the recipient. You’ll spend less time writing emails and for recipients, less time reading them. The result is greater efficiency. Also, people generally respond to shorter emails fast.
5. Don’t Always Use ‘Reply All’
The ‘reply all’ button can be useful but not all the time. In many cases, everyone on the recipient list doesn’t have to read your email, only the person it concerns. Using ‘reply all’ when you don’t need to can disrupt productivity. Email clients typically send notifications, and that causes recipients to check their messages. What good is sending an email to everyone when only one person can take action on it?
We’d recommend refraining from using the ‘reply all’ feature unless you’re sure everyone on the recipient list needs to view the given email.
6. Introduce Yourself and Don’t Make Assumptions
Always introduce yourself, never assume that people know who you are, or will recall meeting you. A proper introduction is crucial, but if you’ve met someone before, you can include a reminder of the encounter. With email, you can’t make assumptions based on what you read either, because text communication doesn’t have face-to-face human aspects. That means you can’t assess body language and tone, which are essential parts of communication.
7. Always Include an Email Signature
Add your email signature on every first contact concerning a topic. Your email signature provides the recipient with some information about who you are, which is vital for building trust. At a minimum, the signature should include your full name, company name, phone number, and website address.
You can use your LinkedIn profile as the web address if you don’t have a website and leave out the phone number if necessary.
A sound email signature should look somewhat like the following.
[Picture or headshot]
[Job or profession title]
Professionals tend to ignore emails without signatures or messages with poorly written ones. You may have come across an outreach attempt you overlooked because of a weak signature. Here are some examples of poorly written signatures we’ve come across.
XYZ Company Manager
[Name] [last initial]
[PS click here to get some promotion]
Your email signature can be used for advertising but keep it light. For example, you can promote your most recent blog post or a downloadable white paper that may be useful to the recipient.
8. Skip the Humor
Humor can get lost in translation because, as previously noted, text communication is missing tone and facial expression. Therefore, it’s better to leave out humor even if you know the recipient well. What you think is funny may not be viewed as such by the other party. So avoid making jokes in email exchanges because they can be misconstrued.
9. Alert the Recipient About Attachments
When you include attachments to an email, indicate that you’ve done so in the message. This way, the recipient won’t miss or overlook it.
10. Use Descriptive Names for Your File Attachments
If you’re sending multiple attachments, use descriptive names, so the recipient knows the details about each one. This is especially useful when the recipient needs to access attachments in a specific order. Also, attachments with descriptive file names are easier to save since the receiver shouldn’t have to rename them.
11. Greet the Recipient Properly
Try not to use casual salutations in email. Use professional greetings like ‘Hello’, ‘Hi’, ‘Dear [insert name]’, not ‘Hey’, ‘Yo’, and the sorts.
12. Proofread Your Emails
People generally pay attention to errors when reading emails. So poor use of grammar and spelling likely won’t make a good impression. Proofread your emails after composing them to make sure everything is correct.
Consider reading every email aloud to identify mistakes. Our ears can often pick up on things that we miss, such as tone. One trick you can use is to always enter the recipient’s email address and email subject line last, so you’ll remember to proofread.
13. Check the Recipient’s Email Address
It’s not uncommon to accidentally send an email to the wrong recipient. Therefore, it would be best to double-check the recipient’s email address before hitting ‘send.’ While some email providers like Gmail offer an ‘undo send’ feature, most do not. Sending an email to the wrong recipient can be disastrous, depending on its contents.
Choose Proper Email Etiquette
You have a responsibility to protect and grow your reputation. Sending sloppy emails by neglecting the email etiquette tips we’ve discussed, can dent your professional career and brand reputation. So follow best practices for etiquette when communicating via email.