How many times have you received an email and either ignored it or deleted it? Our tips on email etiquette will make sure the person you’re emailing takes notice of what you’re saying.
Email etiquette is one of those much-overlooked skills that have a lot more impact on business relationships than people realise.
But then, in general, manners and politeness are like that, aren’t they? You never really notice them until they’re not there.
With email it couldn’t be truer. If you get the tone wrong, make a mistake with a name or just miscommunicate a call to action completely, at best you’ll irritate the person you’re communicating with. Worst case, they’ll just lose interest in working with you altogether.
In a world where communication has never been so easy and yet so important, getting it right the first time is essential. And that’s where we can help!
7 top tips that will boost your email etiquette
- Make your subject line clear and concise
This is essentially the headline to your email. Write it so that it conveys what your email is about and also makes the reader want to open your email. I don’t suggest using tabloid titillation, but make sure the wording is clear.
Here are some cracking points on creating strong business email subject lines.
Keep the word count down to about 15 words max and mention the main reason you’re emailing at the start. If you’re emailing about a number of different things, make sure you include the most important one first (or the one you most want them to react to).
This leads me to the next point:
- Limit the number of calls to action
There is absolutely no point in sending a massive email to someone with 15 different things for them to react to. They just won’t do them.
It’s not because they don’t want to or because they don’t like you (well, it might be), it’s probably because people just don’t work like this. From your list of 15, you’ll get – at most – five looked at – if you’re lucky.
Keep the number of things you want addressed to a maximum of three. If you have more than that, send additional emails.
- Be culturally aware
By ‘culturally aware’ I don’t mean knowing their religious or political preferences, or their ethnicity – though that is certainly something to consider.
Instead, I mean you need to tailor your message to the audience and how well you know the person. Don’t shorten their name unless you know that’s what they liked to be called. Be careful of the tone you use and how familiar you are.
If it’s the first time you’ve contacted them, make sure you keep it professional: ‘Dear’ or ‘Hi’ then their first name at the start and ‘Kindest regards’ at the bottom. Open with a warmer- upper rather than going straight into the point of your email – something like, ‘I hope all’s well with you’ is perfect.
Never use profanities – even if you’re friends with the person. It may or may not offend them, but also most business emails are scanned for profanities and expletives.
- Hold back on the exclamation marks
If you can’t get your message across without using an exclamation mark, you’re not writing clearly enough. These are known as ‘screamers’ in the writing industry and you should use them sparingly.
They also tend to convey an informal tone, which is fine if that’s what you’re aiming for, but if it’s a business email, you should avoid using them.
- Add the email address last
There are few things that’ll make your stomach drop like a broken elevator, than the moment you click send on an unfinished email. We’ve all done it and it’s horrible. And having to send a retraction is even worse.
Getting into the habit of writing the subject and body first then adding the addressee can be helpful. It gives you time to proofread the message, make sure everything is attached and check you haven’t accidentally pasted a photo of your cat into the message (true story).
- Do you really need to reply all?
Only use the Reply All function when you know everyone on the list needs to see your message. Copying people in on an irrelevant conversation is not only annoying for them, but it can also be hazardous. You never know if what you’re saying should be for all eyes.
Review the addressees before you send the email and make sure only those people or person who needs to know what you’re emailing are included in the string.
- Give yourself a break
If you’re emailing about a delicate subject, never send it as soon as you’ve finished typing. Make a cup of tea, then come back and reread it.
Just because you know how it’s supposed to sound doesn’t mean the person reading the email will hear it the same way. Having a break before sending will bring you back with fresh eyes and a better perspective on the message you’re trying to communicate.
Pro tip – never forget that attachment again
If you’re sending an attachment in your email, always write the word ‘attached’ somewhere in the body. Write ‘Please find attached…’ or ‘I’ve attached the document here.’ Some email servers may spot this and will tell you if you’ve forgotten to attach the document.
If you are using Gmail, here are some other terms you can use to ensure your attachment is safely where it should be.
There’s a certain sense of satisfaction when you send a well-written email – clicking send with the confidence that you’ve communicated your message well. What tricks do you use to ensure you’re sending emails that will be read?