A few months back, we published our first post on tips for improving email etiquette. You may already have an email policy in place, or perhaps you are just getting one off the ground. No matter how robust or simple your rules for email may be in your office, it is important to have a team that is well-informed on how they are expected to communicate with clients and business contacts via email. Many times, email is the first method of contact and can have great influence in forming your first impression. Here are 10 more tips for strengthening your team’s email:
- Subject Matters – This is something that was mentioned in our last list of tips, but there is more to it than having the subject/title appropriately match the content of the email. For one, your subject in mass emails and personal one-to-one emails may hold some differences. Mass emails should have subjects that grab the readers’ attention and are concise. While emails that are directed to one sender do not require attention grabbing subject headlines, they should reflect the main request or information being communicated. Additionally, don’t make a habit of changing the subject title once an email is active, as email chains can be helpful in identifying and following a specific conversation or topic.
- Sentence Structure – In the world of short texts and even shorter attention spans, it is easy to write in shorthand or simplify sentences to save time. Although it is not necessary to write a formal letter-style email every time, it is important to make sure you have the basics of sentence structure covered (proper capitalization, punctuation, etc.). Also, using multiple exclamation points or writing in all caps may be perceived as yelling or too intense. In most professional correspondence, it is wise to be selective when use such font and expressions.
- Reply Like You Mean It – Often, various other parties will be included (cc) in an email, and some parties may not be interested in the series of responses to soon follow. For this reason, use the “Reply All” function only when your response will or should be of interest to everyone.
- Double-Check Addresses – Prior to sending an email, it is a good idea to double-check your “To:” field. With our increased reliance on our address book and auto-fill, it is common to type just the first few letters of a contact’s name and allow automation to fill in the rest. This can become problematic when you have two “Smiths”, and the automated function adds the wrong contact to the field. All it takes is a second or two to double-check the contact’s email address to avoid a lot of time later dealing with a misdirected email.
- Choose Fonts Wisely – A unique font may be memorable in a flyer or ad, but in email it can be the wrong kind of memorable. Avoid using new or uncommon fonts in the body of your email as it may come across quite differently on the recipient’s end. Only the most standard of fonts are available on all computers.
- Pass on the Emoticons – Email is not the easiest method of communication for expressing emotion. For example, sarcasm and jokes can be misread and lost in translation. This is where emoticons come into the picture. Emoticons are being used more frequently in the attempt to soften messages, set a tone or assist in conveying one’s intention. This is fine for the personal arena, but when it comes to business, use emoticons sparingly to ensure that your tone and intent are clear in your text.
- Be Selective with “RR” – All of us have experienced the repetitive “Return Receipt” from senders who require confirmation from the receiving party. This function can be useful when sending sensitive and confidential information, but intrusive and agitating if used in every email. Request a receipt only when required.
- Be Careful with “BCC:” – The “BCC:” field is great for protecting the email addresses of multiple recipients in mass emails or event invitations, but it can be easily misconstrued in private email. Make sure your team is not using this field to send information to someone who should not be privy to certain content. It should only be used with good intentions, not as a strategy to “catch” someone or sneak information behind a colleague or client’s back.
- Know Before You “Forward” – Before forwarding an email, take a minute or so to add a personal comment prior to sending it; provide a reason or a simple sentence explaining the content you are forwarding. Also, to post or forward private email to a public domain should not be done without receiving documented permission from the author; this includes letters of recommendation and testimonials.
- Don’t be Afraid to go “Old School” – When there is a misunderstanding in an email, or parties are going back and forth too much, it may just be time to pick up the phone. As much as we rely on texts and emails for communication, some topics require clarification and a good old-fashioned phone call or meeting can help fill in the gaps.
Some of the most basic tips are the most effective. It may just be a matter of a few simple tweaks to make a confusing email clear. Your team and their relations with customers is the face of your business. Whether in meetings, answering the phone, or reaching out through email, policies for email and interaction can make a huge difference in how your business is perceived. If you want your customers and prospects to know about your high-quality services and products, having professional and high-quality communication is a great place to start.
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