Email etiquette: a guide to writing professional emails

Email plays a significant role in the success of any business. And that’s because it is often used to engage with and build positive relationships with customers, prospects, and stakeholders. This is why having a thorough understanding of email etiquette is so important.

If you regularly communicate via email, then you need to make sure you are creating an excellent experience for everyone. This is accomplished by being professional. In this article, we cover what exactly that means, and what are actionable steps you can take to keep your customers and sales leads delighted with your service.

What Is email etiquette?

Email etiquette refers to guidelines and practices for composing, sending, and responding to emails professionally and effectively. How you conduct yourself over email significantly impacts how others perceive you and your business.

When customers perceive you as professional, they are more likely to trust your brand and recommend you to others.

Why is email etiquette important?

Email etiquette helps to maintain a professional image in business communication. It shows that you take the time and effort to communicate respectfully and professionally. By following best practices for email etiquette, you can enhance your professional image, improve communication and efficiency, and build positive relationships with potential sales leads and customers.

Why does email etiquette matter to sales teams?

Sales teams often rely on email to make a first impression on prospects. Poor email etiquette, such as using inappropriate language, failing to address the recipient properly, or sending emails with spelling or grammatical errors, can create a negative first impression and harm the chances of closing a deal.

Throughout the sales cycle, sales teams must communicate salient points clearly and succinctly. Poorly written emails can lead to misunderstandings, confusion, and missed opportunities, chasing prospects away and harming revenue.

Good email etiquette helps sales teams establish trust, credibility, and rapport with prospects and clients, which helps build stronger relationships and increase the chances of closing a deal.

Why does email etiquette matter to customer service teams?

Email etiquette is crucial for customer service teams. Without respectful, professional email communication, it is nearly impossible to maintain a positive relationship with customers or build a healthy brand image.

Communicating respectfully and professionally fosters trust and strengthens the customer’s loyalty to the company. And who doesn’t want loyal, happy customers?

When customer service teams maintain professional email etiquette, they build positive customer relationships. Over time, this goodwill can be helpful in offsetting any negative customer experiences that may be outside your control.

It is also essential to keep in mind that email communication may be used as evidence in legal disputes. Using proper email etiquette ensures that all communication is professional and appropriate as this can protect the company’s reputation during a legal dispute.

How to write a professional email

Here are some tips on how to write a professional email:

  • Use a clear and concise subject line that summarizes the purpose of the email. 📢
  • Begin your email with a professional greeting, such as “Dear Mr./Ms. [Last Name]” or “Hello [First Name].” If you do not know the recipient’s name, you can simply say “Dear Mr./Ms.” 🤝
  • Use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation throughout the email. Avoid using all caps, abbreviations, or slang. 👩‍🏫📝
  • Use a professional tone and avoid using overly informal language.👩‍💼💬
  • Use proper email etiquette, such as cc’ing recipients when necessary and responding in a timely manner. ⏳📤
  • Include a clear and concise message that gets straight to the point.📢💬
  • Use bullet points or numbered lists to break up large chunks of text and make the email easier to read.🗒️ 📌🧐
  • Include a clear call to action or next steps.🕺🤳
  • End the email with a professional closing, such as “Sincerely” or “Best regards,” and include your email signature.📝
  • Ensure you include your contact information, such as your phone number and email address, so the recipient can easily contact you. ℹ️🤳

If there has been a miscommunication, it’s important to address it politely. Begin by acknowledging the miscommunication and take responsibility for any mistakes made. Explain the situation clearly and provide a solution or next steps to resolve the issue. End the email by thanking the recipient for their understanding and patience, and offer to answer any further questions or concerns they may have.

5 key email etiquette rules

Here are five key email etiquette rules to ensure your emails are well-received:

  • Be clear and concise: This includes using a short, clear subject line that describes the content of the email. Keep the email brief and to the point, using bullet points or numbered lists to organize information.
  • Use a professional and respectful tone: This includes avoiding using slang, emojis, all caps, abbreviations, overly casual language or excessive punctuation. While these may be appropriate for informal emails, they do not belong in professional business-related emails.
  • Proofread: Before you hit the send button, you must re-read your email, checking for spelling and grammar errors before sending it.
  • Use a professional email signature: To come across as professional, use a formal email signature that includes your name, title, and contact information.
  • Reply Quickly: Respond to emails promptly, ideally within 24-48 hours.

By following these guidelines, you can help ensure that your emails are well-received and effective in achieving their intended purpose.

Email etiquette tips and examples

Here are some tips and email etiquette examples for different scenarios:

First time email

  • Start with a greeting and a brief introduction of yourself.
  • Be clear and concise about the purpose of your email.
  • Use a professional tone and language.
  • Proofread your email before sending it.
  • Close your email with a polite ending and your contact information.

Follow-up email

  • Reference your previous email and provide additional information if necessary.
  • Be polite and respectful in your tone.
  • Avoid being pushy or demanding.
  • Include a clear call-to-action so the receiver knows what you expect them to do.

Out-of-Office email

  • Start with a greeting and a brief message indicating you’re out of the office.
  • Explain when you’ll be back and who to contact in your absence.
  • Let the recipient know if you will have limited access to email and when they can expect a response from you.
  • Include any additional information or instructions if necessary.
  • Close your email with a polite ending.


Subject: Out of Office – John Doe

Dear [recipient],

Thank you for your email. I am currently out of the office and will not be available until [date]. During this time, I will have limited access to email. I may not be able to respond to your message immediately.

If you require immediate assistance, please contact [Name, Title, Contact Info]; they will gladly assist you. Otherwise, I will respond to your email as soon as possible upon my return.

I appreciate your understanding.

Best regards,

John Doe
[Company Name]
[Email Address]
[Telephone Number]
[Link to Website]

Cold Email:

  • Start your cold email by greeting the prospect and briefly introduce yourself and the reason for you reaching out.
  • Clearly state the value or benefit you can offer the recipient.
  • Personalize your email by showing that you’ve researched the recipient and their company.
  • Be respectful of their time and avoid being too salesy or pushy.
  • Close your email with a polite ending and your contact information.



Subject: Introduction – John Doe

Dear Ms. Smith,

I hope this email finds you well. My name is John Doe and I’m reaching out to introduce myself and my company, [Insert Company Name]. We specialize in [state your unique areas of specialization].

I came across your company while researching potential clients in the [insert field] and was impressed by your services. I believe we can assist you by [insert benefits that address pain points].

If you want to learn more about how we can help your business grow, I would happily schedule a free consultation call at your convenience. During this call, we can discuss your goals and how our services could benefit your business.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Best regards,

John Doe
[Company Name]
[email address]
[telephone number]
[link to website]

The importance of response times

The average email response time per industry shows why response time is so important to email etiquette. Here’s why:

Builds Trust

Responding promptly to emails shows that you are reliable and responsible, which helps build trust between you and the recipient. When you respond quickly, you demonstrate that you take the recipient’s concerns seriously and are committed to addressing them promptly.

  • Avoids Misunderstandings: Delayed responses can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunications, which can cause unnecessary confusion and frustration. Responding quickly can help clarify any questions or issues and prevent misunderstandings from escalating.
  • Enhances Professionalism: Responding promptly to emails is a sign of professionalism. It shows that you value the recipient’s time and are committed to providing excellent customer service. In today’s fast-paced business world, being responsive is essential to professionalism.
  • Increases Efficiency: Responding promptly to emails can help you stay on top of your workload and avoid a backlog of unanswered emails. By responding quickly, you can reduce your time on email and increase your productivity.
  • Improves Relationships: Responding promptly to emails can help you build and maintain positive relationships with clients, customers, and colleagues. You can establish trust and foster positive interactions by demonstrating that you are responsive and reliable.

As a best practice, aim to respond to emails within 24 hours, or sooner if possible, to demonstrate your commitment to excellent customer service and professionalism. Not sure how quickly your customer and sales teams respond to incoming emails? That is where we come in.

Help your business achieve fast response times

timetoreply can automatically track your email response times, meaning you don’t have to manually track and record them yourself. This saves you time and gives you valuable insights and data about your team’s email performance.

With real-time monitoring, you can see how quickly individuals and teams respond to emails and identify any bottlenecks in your workflow. Add custom SLAs to ensure you always meet your and your customers’ expectations. And use our detailed performance analytics to see how your email response times compare to industry benchmarks.

With an easy integration to any email platform and world-class security, timetoreply can help you enhance your customer service and sales efforts, build trust with clients and customers, and improve overall business efficiency.

Ready to get started? Sign up for a demo or our 15-day free trial.

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