So much of our business is conducted online with email still being the main mode of communication. It is important to remember that as for all your communication, including social media, face-to-face, text, phone as well as your marketing efforts, maintaining consistency to your brand and as well as an ensuring an appropriate level of professionalism is vital when communicating via email. The key point to ask yourself is what is the message you want the receiver to get.
Here are a few etiquette tips to help ensure your email messages are sending the right message:
You should never keep a recipient waiting for more that two days for a reply. However, responding at 2pm in the morning might send the wrong message about your work hours. Unless you work in some type of emergency capacity, it’s not necessary to reply the instant an email arrives.
2. Subject line
Make sure you use a brief subject line that is descriptive of the core content of your message. Subject lines with 30 or fewer characters have an above average open rate.
Keep emails short and to the point. Make sure your sentences are not to long, leave a space between paragraphs and possibly even bullet points for main issues.
Limit the number of attachments you send with an email and be wary of their size. Attachments can slow down or even prevent the receiving of the message. Most email applications can send and receive around 1MB without issues. Keep in mind that some email accounts are set up to automatically send emails with attachments to the spam folder.
Addresses in the “To” field are the recipient/s that you are writing to. “CC” is generally for people that need to be kept informed of the communication. “BCC” is used to keep addresses private, especially when sending to a large list of people. The receivers will only see the “To” and “CC” recipient email addresses. So to keep maximum anonymity, you can put your own address in the “To” field” and the remaining recipients in “BCC”. If the recipients click “Reply all” the contacts that are in the “BCC” field will not get the reply message.
6. Confidential information
Refrain from including confidential information in an email such as account information and passwords.
7. Reply vs Reply all
Do not hit “reply all” unless every person included in the email needs to know your response. When you click reply, you respond directly to the last person who emailed you where as “reply all” means you email back everyone who is either in the “To” or “CC” fields.
8. Out of Office replies
If you’re going to be unavailable for an extended period of time, an automated reply will let whoever is contacting you know that you may not be able to respond to their message until the date you will be available again. Make sure this message includes the dates/time you are unavailable as well as someone else to contact for urgent matters.
9. Punctuation, spelling and grammar
Use complete sentences, not random unfinished thoughts to help deliver your message professionally. Don’t just rely on computer spell checks – proofread your copy before pressing send especially the spelling of the recipients’ name.
Do not type your message in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS – this is considered shouting according to email etiquette rules.
Avoid using informal words like “coz”, “ain’t”, “gotta”, etc. and don’t type your email in all small case – this gives the perception of a lack of education.
Avoid using emoticons and multiple instances of an exclamation mark!!!
10. Email account
Business communication should be sent from a business email account, preferably one associated with your business domain. Your personal emails should be received in a separate account for better organization as well as email storage space
11. Include a signature
It is important that the receiver of your email is able to contact you so make sure you include the essential details in your email signature such as a landline and/or mobile number. If you have social media accounts, you can include these as well. However, keep in all brief and preferably within 600 pixels wide so it will fit within a screen if viewed on a mobile device.
Use anti-viral software and update it on a regular basis to avoid the risk of sending viruses via your email account. Be wary of messages you receive that containing .zip or .rar file attachments. Links within messages are also risky especially ones requesting you to change account details.
13. Abide by laws and regulations
Make sure to provide an UNSUBSCRIBE option if you send a newsletter.
14. One final check
Before clicking Send, reread your email to make sure it is not emotionally charged or impolite.
To wrap it up
Being aware of these fourteen tips will help foster an environment for clear, respectful and efficient communication. As a result, the recipients of your emails will be more likely to read and act. Communication can be enhanced or undermined by its delivery. Make sure you are delivering the right message.