Email has become one of the dominant mediums of communication for businesses of all sizes. However, it is amazing how often people neglect the importance of following good email practices.
Here’s why it’s needed:
- Clear and timely communication is important in order to build good and lasting business relationships.
- Prompt responses to client queries shows dedication to customer service.
- A carefully written email stands a greater chance of being understood correctly.
- The language and tone of the email can convey the company’s professionalism when relating to business partners and clients.
- Be concise – Avoid writing too much, get straight to the point and make it easy to follow. People don’t like reading long messages, and often skim read them.
- Separate out sections – If you have to write a long message, break the text into paragraphs or use subheadings, bullets and numbers. This will make the email much easier to read and more pleasing to the eye.
- Use bold text – Highlight text or make important words bold to draw the readers attention to the specific information you don’t want them to miss.
- Always enter a subject line – Failure to do so, can lead to your message not being read in the first place or cause annoyance to the reader when they can’t find it again later.
- Write a meaningful subject line – Avoid using words like “message” or “hello” in the subject line. It does not give the reader any clues about the message itself, so can delay them opening it, as they may consider it unimportant. Just as with omitting a subject line, a poorly worded one will make the email harder for your reader to find at a later date.
- EOM – If you have something quick to say then don’t write anything in the body of the email. Instead just write EOM (meaning End Of Message) at the end of the subject line. It is an efficient way to ensure your email is read, because all of the information is in the subject line and recipients don’t actually have to open it up. A word of caution however, this is best used for internal communication as you can’t be sure your clients know what EOM means.
- Relevant content – Make sure that the content of the email is relevant to the subject line. Stick to the subject and avoid writing about unrelated information. Make it straight-forward and simple: one point per email. Avoid combining several topics into one email or else your main point will lose its importance.
- Call to action – To encourage the recipient to respond to your email or take the required action, specify what action you want the reader to take. It is important to state your request before closing to ensure that it stays in the recipient’s mind.
- Ask direct questions – Question marks stand out and show the reader that you expect a reply. Form your requests as proper questions rather than statements, which can seem optional. So instead of writing “I would really like to see the report” write “please can you send me the report?”.
- Grammar and spell check – Write the email using correct grammar and punctuation, and don’t forget the spell checker.
- Avoid social media type abbreviations and emoticons – Even if your reader will know what they mean they may come across as unprofessional so are best left out.
- Avoid Large Attachments – There are generally limits on outgoing and incoming mail, though the limits differ between email applications. To prevent your emails from being blocked due to their size, either use compression software like Winrar or Winzip or upload the files to a service like Google Docs and send a link to the email recipient.
- Tell the reader who you are – Always include you name, position and company name at the end of the email to let the recipient know who is communicating with them.
- Tell the reader how to contact you – Give your contact details so the reader can easily get in touch.
- Create a signature – To save you entering your contact details each time you send an email, set up a signature so it appears automatically on every email you write.
- Respond quickly – If you want recipients to respond to you quickly then you should also respond in a timely manner to their emails. A speedy response on your part is more likely to promote a quicker response from them in the future.
- Send a holding email – Even if you can’t answer an email straight away, just respond to acknowledge receipt of their message and give them a timescale for a full reply. This way they will be aware that you have their email and will know that you intend to take action.
- Answer all the questions – When replying to an email, before you click send ensure you have addressed all questions. Failure to do so can lead to frustrated emails from clients who feel you have not given appropriate attention to their problem, and it may even lose you customers.
- Pre-empt questions – To reduce inquiries and avoid receiving further emails regarding the same subject, consider whether the sender might want to know more than they are asking. For example, if they ask if a product is available in a particular color, as well as answering their questions, send them the URL for where they can find full product details.
- Avoid writing in all-caps format – Writing words in all-caps will give the reader the impression of anger, as it is widely viewed as ‘shouting’. This is annoying and disrespectful to the reader. Capitalize text only when necessary.
- Don’t delete the message thread – When a subject is discussed via email for a while the email itself can get quite long if all the history is attached. Though this can become annoying don’t be tempted to deleted it as it can make if difficult for the other party if they need to refresh their memory of previous emails.