We spend a staggering amount of time checking and replying to emails these days. According to a recent study by Adobe, as much as 5 hours per day.
With the onset of the mobile workspace – you can literally run a business from your smartphone these days. Emails are never far away.
In this article, we’re going to look at email etiquette. Especially for business professionals, email is a competitive medium. How do you stand out amongst the crowd? Are your ‘email manners’ up to scratch? Let’s find out…
1. Who are you sending to?
It seems basic but most of us have been there. You’ve sent an email only to check your sent items and find it’s gone to the wrong person. Auto-complete, carelessness or forgetting you’ve hit reply all are all culprits for making this happen.
To stop this in future, make a habit of checking the ‘to’ and ‘cc’ inputs to make sure your email is heading where it should be. Always consider whether the content is appropriate for ‘reply’ or ‘reply all’ too. This could save you a heap of time and hassle.
2. Don’t make them wait!
To professional people, time is money. Making someone wait longer than necessary for a response to an email is a cardinal sin in business.
Worst still, if the email your responding to is a potential client or existing client with a problem you need to solve, this bit of poor email etiquette could cost you revenue.
A simple way to manage this throughout your business is to employ an email response time tracking and analytics platform – like timetoreply.com. Not only does this improve your digital manners but boosts productivity.
3. Utilize a great signature
Implementing a signature block into your email will not only look more professional but save you time too.
Signatures should be concise and visually appealing. Name and title (obviously) with logos and/or a professional image of the sender will work really well. However, avoid including too much information in your signature. As these tend to look cluttered and a little amateur. Less is more.
It’d be remiss of us to write a piece about etiquette and not include this.
Simply put, not replying to emails is rude. It doesn’t matter if the email was meant for you or not. It doesn’t matter if you’re not particularly interested in the content. Even if you’re forwarding the email on to a relevant person. Let the sender know. Communication is the most valuable tool in business and it’s a small world so be polite, be kind and reap the rewards later.
This includes the basics like ensuring your out of office is on when you go on holiday.
Email tracking and analytics software is another way to keep on top of this throughout your business. You can use timetoreply like an inbox ticketing system, and manage conversations that need attending to, or can be closed. Timetoreply also has a holiday and leave management tool built into their features, so your email reply time stats won’t be thrown off by vacation times.
5. Be professional
No matter how laid back or personable you are in your personal life, your business email has to be separate from a salutation and tone perspective.
Using introductions like ‘hey’ or ‘yo’ might be fine to you or to your circle of colleagues but it’s impossible to know whether or not your recipient will feel the same.
Be professional in your written communication, start with ‘hi’ or ‘hello’. This doesn’t mean you have to be stuffy or lack personality but it’s important to understand that professionalism goes a long way in business and will allow you to make a good impression with potential customers or business partners.
6. Using humor? Be cautious
Jokes are not off-limits. In fact, having a good sense of humor can make a person instantly more likable and approachable.
However, if this is your style be careful. First off make sure jokes are appropriate – it goes without saying but keep humor clean and never at the expense of anybody else.
You also need to understand that comedy via a written format can be tough. It’s easy to take something the wrong way without the tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions to confirm the intent in a given statement.
I know you’re busy. Proofreading can add up too. A few minutes per email sent takes up a lot of time by the end of the year.
But, truthfully. You need to proofread your emails before sending them. Spelling and grammatical errors look highly unprofessional and can have the recipient questioning your attention to detail.
8. Read it aloud
Ok, so you could incorporate this into proofreading. And, yes this sounds a little crazy – we don’t’ actually mean loudly aloud.
Reading through your email as though you were speaking it will help you check up on how it’ll be received by the reader.
Is it easy to read? Does it sound harsh? Does it make complete sense? Is there a clear call to action or progression step mapped out?
These are really important questions to answer before sending important emails and can be the difference between getting a new client or not getting them.
9. Remember this is in writing
There are two important tips here. Emails are solid proof that something has been said, done or written and no email is ever 100% confidential.
Therefore, it’s vital that you write with this in mind. Everything leaves a trail so write as though anyone could be reading your email. Would you be happy for your boss or your best customer to read this?
Never write in anger or put anything even remotely inappropriate in a professional email. It will come back to haunt you.
10. Mind your Ps and Qs
Good etiquette on email isn’t totally different from good manners in real life.
Be patient with people, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Offer help when you’re able to.
Not only will this allow you to perfect your etiquette but you’ll likely make some important acquaintances along the way too.
Email manners are a small but vital part of progressing your business. You can start by getting the basics right with an email response time and analytics system like Time to Reply.
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