Your emails say a lot about you and your business…
As an entrepreneur in the digital era, you will be sending out plenty of emails to clients, customers, potential customers, vendors, business associates, etc. As a professional, you need to communicate in a professional manner. Many or most of the recipients of your emails will not have met you face to face. Your emails and communications are the way they evaluate you.
So, it goes without saying that your business emails need to create a good impression – that you are a credible business enterprise and someone worthy of doing business with.
We give you some pointers on email etiquette that will go a long way in instilling confidence in you and your business.
Be professional: The language you use needs to tick off all the right boxes in terms of professionalism. Don’t use slang or greet a stranger with a ‘heyya’ or ‘hola’. And don’t send jokes, chain mails and forwards to business associates who you do not have a personal relationship with.
Always have a clear subject line: Without that, there are chances that people may not even open your email. Keep it short and to the point, and remember, no typos!
Address the recipient courteously: It’s always better to avoid using first names unless the recipient asks you to do so. Otherwise prefix a ‘Mr’, ‘Mrs’ or ‘Ms’ or ‘Dr’ if the need arises. You could start with Dear, ‘Hello’ or ‘Good morning/afternoon’. A ‘Hi’ is avoidable unless you know the recipient well and have established a relationship with him or her.
Do not write in all caps: This is considered the equivalent of shouting in the digital realm. Write your email in upper/lower case.
Format the email: This is especially so if you are writing a long email. Do break it up into paragraphs with heading if necessary. Try and break the monotony with bullet points to draw attention to important topics that you wish to highlight.
Avoid emojis and short forms: Emojis are fine when you are exchanging mails with your pals or in your family group but in a business email? No! And abbreviations like ‘b4’ and 2morrow’ can be restricted to your WhatsApp chats with friends and family!
Always start with a new email for a fresh topic: It’s so easy to open an old email and continue your correspondence from there. Not only is it messy but it will confuse the recipient and could end up being trashed.
Mind your grammar: Many people think of emails as text messages and don’t bother to type full sentences. However, in a business email, even if you are replying to a query, do type full sentences that are grammatically correct.
Avoid typos: An error-ridden email gives the impression that you are not professional or even signals incompetence. Do check your mail for any typos.
Keep your signature files in mind: It makes business sense to have a signature at the end of your mail with your name, company details, website etc. However, do keep it short – a max of three to six lines. Your email signature is a great way to let people know more about you and your product/service and company.
Respond promptly: Professional ethics demand that you reply as soon as possible to a business email. It’s all about customer service and optics. When you take your own sweet time to respond you come across as unprofessional, uncaring or unorganized. And, you are giving your competitors a potential foothold into poaching your customers! If you don’t have an immediate answer or solution for a query, email the person and inform them that you are on the job and will respond as soon as you have an answer.
Be careful with exclamation marks: We tend to go overboard with exclamation marks. More so if you are plugging benefits of your product or service. However, too many exclamation marks can end up making you appear unprofessional or childish.
Be concise: There will be times you need to send long emails. However, in most cases a short mail will do. Stay to the point of the subject. Lindsey Pollack, email etiquette consultant says, “The long e-mail is a thing of the past. Write concisely, with lots of white space, so as to not overwhelm the recipient. Make sure when you look at what you’re sending it doesn’t look like a burden to read – feel free to use bullet points. The person reading your e-mail should not have to dig through several paragraphs in order to figure out what you’re asking. You should state the purpose of the e-mail within the first two sentences. Be clear, and be up front.”
Your email is a reflection of you and your business. If it’s professional, interesting and error-free, it creates a positive impression about you and your enterprise. If it’s punctuated with errors, is disorganized and all over the place, you will come across as disorganized and sloppy, and the recipient may wonder how credible you are. In the digital era, people’s opinions are shaped on your digital interactions and those perceptions are critical to how well your business does. Email etiquette is a key component of how you are viewed in the digital space.