How many e-mails do you send and reply to each day? Five, ten, twenty, or maybe more? Of course it is common sense to check your punctuation and grammar, but there are also other things to bear in mind when e-mailing. Here are some tips for you to improve your emails for good business practice:
- Make the ‘Subject’ of your email interesting. Always ensure you include a subject line which is not only interesting, but also relevant to the post. So many e-mails are received each day, so you want yours to stand out and be read.
- Don’t write too much. Keep it succinct and to the point. It is very overwhelming to be sent an email which looks like an essay, and people simply won’t read it all, or worse not read it at all. Use bullet points and bold headings to break up longer e-mails.
- Check your ABC’s. With so many emails being sent back and forth each day, it’s easy to forget to spell check. Sending out messages with poor spellings won’t give a very good impression of your business.
- Mind your Language. Back to basics again! Are your messages clear and concise? Is your style easy to read? People don’t have time to work out what you mean so be straight-forward about what you want. No slang and definately no text abbreviations.
- Use both upper and lower case letters. Typing all in capitals, as with text messages, looks shouty and unprofessional.
- Sending an Important message? Send it to yourself first. This will give you the opportunity to see how it looks before you send it. Once you hit send there’s no going back!
- Delete when replying. If you are replying to an email, delete unnecessary text, so the message doesn’t keep getting longer and longer as you email back and forth with your recipient.
- Use the BCC function. There is nothing worse than being sent an email from a company that has everyone else’s email address in the ‘To’ line. Not only does it look extremely unprofessional, but it is also breaching your customer’s confidentiality, so always use BCC where there are multiple recipients. BCC means blind carbon copy.
- Have an email ‘signature’. Signatures look professional provided they aren’t too spammy (leave out the sales pitches and excessive use of images). Include your name and job title, company, phone, fax, email and website URL. You could also include your company logo and icons which point to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
- Be prompt, but not hasty. A large percentage of email messages either go unanswered or are not responded to timely. What do you think when someone doesn’t respond to your phone messages? It’s no different with email. Try to respond as appropriate, but don’t rush a reply.
- Use attachments. If you need to send a lot of information use attachments, but ensure you aren’t sending too many, or attachments that are too large.
- Use Auto-responders to save time. Are you frequently asked for the same information? You can use various online services such as Aweber or MailChimp to auto-respond to queries.
- Be personal and personable. If you are sending out to a large group or mailing list, try to include the first name of the recipient where possible. Use your signature in the email, or even better, scan your signature for that personal touch.
- Don’t over e-mail. If you can’t work out what you want to say, or are spending too long trying to compose an email, pick up the phone! If you find you are sending multiple emails a day to the same recipient, keep the email in your draft folder, add to it when needed and send it at the end of the day. Not only are you avoiding spamming your recipient, but it will also help you to organise your mailbox.
- Don’t hide behind your email address! Emailing is a very effective form of communication, but it can be overused and misinterpreted. Try to use the phone now and again and talk to your business associates and customers. There’s nothing quite like hearing a friendly voice to brighten your day.
- Colourful emails – keep it simple. It can be nice to inject a bit of colour into your text or background, but don’t go too mad with your artistic flair save it for emailing your friends.
- Keep professional. Emoticons are very cute if you know your recipient well, but avoid smileys and winks for business.
- Activate your ‘out of office’. If you are going to be away from your office for a few days and don’t plan to access your emails remotely, use your out of office function. If you are particularly busy, you could consider doing this for a day to enable you to catch up with your work load, but don’t make a habit of it.