Email Etiquette: Eight Steps to Perfect Emails
Emails are important. They’re the main way that businesses communicate; between themselves, between other businesses and their customers. Learning how to properly phrase and format your emails is an important skill to have, but you may not be aware of what the best way to do this is. In just eight steps, I’ll be teaching you how to write the perfect email, whatever the subject and whoever the recipient.
Include a Subject
Including a subject-line in your emails is a definite must for professional communication. Firstly, this allows your recipient to instantly see what your correspondence is about. Not only will they appreciate your transparency, but they’ll also be able to find your email later with one search. Therefore, making your subject-line something specific and searchable, such as the date of a meeting, is a good idea. Secondly, you can use your subject-line to your advantage, particularly if you’re emailing a first time correspondence with a request. Using the right keywords could catch the eye of even the busiest CEO, just keep it short and sweet.
Address Them Properly
Using the right salutation (greeting) is crucial to writing a professional email. No one appreciates being addressed in the wrong way; it affects the entirety of your email, so no matter how great your proposal is, they’ll be instantly put off. So to avoid this, you’ll want to think about the relationship you have with your recipient; how well do you know this person? If you’re writing to a company-wide email address, or if you’re not sure who is going to receive your email, then using ‘Whomever this may concern’ is a good catch-all. If you do know the name of your recipient, but are not known to them, then using a ‘Dear’ before their correct title and last name is correct. If you’re writing a reply, look at what they’ve used; taking cues from the emails you receive is an essential part of email etiquette, so if they’ve used ‘Hello’, for example, it’s probably alright for you too as well.
Introduce Your Purpose
Now you’ve addressed your recipient, you’ll want to address your purpose. This is generally reserved for people you haven’t spoken to before, as barging straight into the details can appear rather blunt. If this is a first time interaction, then introducing yourself; with your full name, job title and the purpose of your email, comes highly recommended. It’s a small courtesy that makes all the difference.
Nail Your Main Body
Herein lies the crucial balance between getting to the point, whilst not appearing rude. You’ll want to think about why it is you’re emailing them. If it’s, for example, to make a request, using understanding language such as ‘I know you must be busy’, can help win their interest. Or, if you’re apologizing for something, using sympathetic phrases, such as ‘I understand that this is an inconvenience’, can help smooth things over. If you’re replying to another email, then think about the topics they’ve covered; try and respond to each topic in the order that they presented them, this shows that you’ve payed attention to their email and that your invested in the conversation.
Close Things Out
The next thing to do is to close out your main body. Check for any particular details, like important dates or information, and include them here. Summarising key information from your email in a separate paragraph allows your recipient to skim its contents at a later date, and be able to easily locate the important bits.
Fare Them Well
Just as using the correct greeting is important, so is using the appropriate farewell. For a new correspondence, “sincerely” or “respectfully” both work fine. For someone you’ve already had contact with, “Best wishes” or even a casual “Thanks” will do. Again, if you’re replying to another email, look at what they’ve used; following their lead is good practice.
Having your own email signature is a really good way of covering all your bases here; not only does it serve as an appropriate sign out for any recipient, it also makes you appear far more professional. Your email signature can contain information such as your work number, a link to your company website and even links to your social media channels. Emails services like Microsoft Outlook give you the option to easily create and customise your own signature. But if you don’t have a signature, signing off with your full name and job title is always a safe bet.
Regardless of who your email is intended for, good grammar and punctuation should be standard. Spelling mistakes and grammar missteps do not look good; sending emails with them is an unprofessional practice and should be avoided. This is why it’s important to always proof-read your emails before sending them. If you distrust your email’s spelling and grammar check, then try typing out your emails in Word first, before copying them over and sending.
There you have it, eight simple steps to email sending bliss, follow them and you’ll be charming your recipients in no time. For more useful communication tips and tricks, be sure to peruse the rest of our blog.