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6 Important Business Email Etiquette Tips

By Ashley Orndorff, aka Marketing Geek closeup of woman using laptop with email icons superimposed on top of the image

How many emails are sent every day? What about business emails?

Hundreds of thousands? Millions? Try hundreds of billions for daily emails overall and over a hundred billion for daily business emails alone.

So many businesses rely on email to get things done and keep growing. On an individual level, it’s important to get your business emails right, convey the information you need to get across, and avoid miscommunications as much as possible.

Whether you’re making a first impression or continuing to build a long-term relationship, use these important business email etiquette tips to make sure your emails are helping your business and not hurting it.

1. Read, Revise, and Review Before Sending

Spelling mistakes, grammar missteps, and general misinformation are some of the biggest issues we all deal with when it comes to email, especially when it comes to business emails. Whether you’re sending email internally to your co-workers or externally to clients, the quality of your emails can reflect back on you and your business – positively or negatively.

This three-step process will ensure your emails are in tip-top shape: read, revise, and review.

Read your email after you write it, out loud if you need to. No matter how urgent your email may be, taking the time to read it over will catch a lot of mistakes before it reaches your intended recipient.

As you’re reading it over, also consider the tone in which you’re writing. Text doesn’t have facial expressions or vocal intonations to help get the point across. So, if there is anything that could be misinterpreted, like humor, sarcasm, or vague statements, make sure it’s either removed or expressed clearly in the text to avoid misunderstandings.

Revise your email as needed and fix any mistakes you find.

Review your email a final time. Run the spell checker or an editor like Grammarly or Hemingway as well. If you don’t find anything alarming, your email should be safe to send.

We’re human and we all make mistakes. With this little process on your side, you’ll make fewer mistakes in your business emails.

2. Make Sure the Content You’re Sending is On-Brand

How you use your professional email account makes a big difference in how you and your company are viewed. If you’re sending content through your business email that is not professional, like jokes, those dreaded chain letters, or something inappropriate, that lack of professionalism reflects back on your business and your brand.

From an internal and individual standpoint, the same concept applies – if you’re sending email from your business account, keep it professional. When it comes to business email, it’s generally best to keep the personal stuff out of it.

3. Craft an Effective Subject Line

Your subject line can make or break your business email and even your business relationships. With the neverending battle against overwhelming inboxes, it’s important for your subject line to be clear and effective. Using some of the common tips for writing better email subject lines can help you craft a good one, no matter what type of business email you’re sending. The recipient of your email should be able to tell what the email is regarding quickly and easily. It’s also important to remember that whoever you’re sending email to is a human being that is worthy of respect.

It may be tempting to send an empty email with just a question, request, or, worse, demand in the subject line. However, these emails can come across as disruptive, passive-aggressive, aggressive, or just plain disrespectful. While sending emails like this may save you a few seconds, it tells your recipient that they are not worth your time. It also often causes miscommunications and misunderstandings because the important context for the question or request is missing. It’s generally far better to take the extra minute or two and include a message with your email even if it is a short one.

4. Check All the Fields

There are a number of business horror stories that stem from incorrect to, bcc, cc, or reply all fields and functions. Before you send a business email, make sure you are replying in the right way. Does your email really need to be “reply all”? Are you replying to an individual when you should be replying to all? Is there anyone who should be cc’ed? Are all the emails in the right fields?

Mistakes in email fields and functions can be costly for your business from a reputation standpoint and, potentially, from a legal standpoint. For example, if you are bcc’ing a list of contacts who do not know each other, make sure they are located in the bcc field instead of the cc field. Getting them mixed up is not only embarrassing for your business and disrespectful to your business contacts, but it is also a privacy and security issue, which can quickly become a legal matter.

5. Include a Signature Worthy of Your Business

Every business email you send should include a signature with all the important information a recipient would need to contact you. Thankfully, you can set up a signature in your email client to automatically include one on every email. It’s worth the time and effort to set one up and make sure it looks professional. Name, address, phone number, website address, and logo tend to be standard inclusions in an email signature. You don’t want your signature to overwhelm your email, but you also want to make it as easy as possible for a recipient to contact you.

6. Respond to All Email, But Not in Anger

In order to have effective conversations through email, it’s important to respond to all the email you receive. Spam, unsolicited emails, and other emails of the type are excluded. However, if a real person you have a business relationship with or want to have a business relationship with is emailing you, make sure you respond to them. Even if you don’t have time to write a full response at the moment, sending a quick note letting them know you received their email and will get back to them soon makes them feel heard and makes them feel like they are important to you – because they are.

The exception to this rule is when you are angry or flippant. One of the important business email etiquette tips is to respond to all emails, except when you angry. You don’t want to send an angry email or thoughtless, flippant response as you’re more likely to miscommunicate, say something you can’t take back, or frustrate your recipient and cause further issues. Make sure you are able to give your response thoughtful consideration before you send it. If you’re angry, this may mean putting a message in a draft, reviewing it later when you are calmer, and then revising or rewriting a more appropriate response.

Depending on how you use it, email can make or break your business. With these business email etiquette tips in mind, you can ensure your business emails are primed to work effectively whether your recipient is an employee or someone outside of your organization.

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