The email revolution has changed the way people communicate in business. It has virtually eliminated the need for writing letters and replaced many of the phone calls that used to be made.
Undoubtedly, email has improved efficiency in business. But it is easy to give the wrong impression in an email. And the ease and speed of delivery mean that you have little or no opportunity to reconsider the content of an email.
You have probably criticized other people’s business emails. Perhaps some were too wordy, some sounded rude, and others were undecipherable. But have you ever considered how people react to your emails when they open them? Read these ten tips to ensure that you aren’t making any of the typical business email mistakes.
- Use the Subject Line
The subject line should indicate the email topic and express the need for urgency, if there is any. Most business users get many emails every day, so use the subject line to get the recipient’s attention. Keep the subject line brief and to the point, and never leave it blank. It is also best to avoid any terminology that might suggest that the email is unsolicited spam. Including keywords in the subject will also help people locate your email in their inbox.
Get to the Point in the First Paragraph
People often skim-read their emails to prioritize which ones get read in full first. So, it would be advisable to summarize the reason for your communication in the first sentence or paragraph. This opening paragraph may repeat some of what you included in the subject line. Still, your emails will get read sooner if you get the point quickly. Plus, a long-winded introduction will likely only irritate a busy business person.
- Keep It Professional
It is best to keep the tone of business emails professional. A business email is not a personal message; it is on behalf of the company you represent. So, avoid talking too much about personal matters, and don’t use things like smiley faces, exclamation marks, or excessive capitalization. Even if you know the recipient personally, they may need to forward your email to other people in their company. It would also be advisable not to send anything that could cause embarrassment to or from a business email address. Business emails may be read by other people, such as an IT (information technology) administrator.
- Be Personable
Although it is best to keep business emails relatively formal, they don’t need to be written in a legal document tone. You will probably build better business relationships if you try to connect with the people you deal with at work. It would be best not to get too personal in a business email, but opening with a phrase like, “I hope you had a good weekend,” will make you appear more personable.
- Keep Business Emails Brief
The people you are emailing are probably as busy as you are, so try not to waste people’s time with lots of preambles and too much unnecessary detail. Breaking up emails into paragraphs will also help the recipient find the information they need. Any detailed explanation of points, or supporting figures and documentation, can be included in an attachment.
- Be Specific
Try to avoid sending emails that require further clarification. Instead, be specific about the points you are raising or the request you are making. Business emails are best kept brief. However, you want to avoid the need for someone to respond to an email asking for further clarification. Suppose you were requesting an employee to complete a task, for example. In that case, you would include when the job needs to be completed and any other background information they would need. Long chains of emails going back and forth waste time and are annoying.
- Refer to Attachments
Don’t rely on the recipient noticing that there is an attachment to an email. Explain what the attachments contain in the body of the message. Describing the attachments’ contents will tell the recipient if they need to open and read the contents now or if it is something for later reference. Not mentioning an attachment in an email might lead to something crucial in the message getting missed.
- Include a Call to Action
Use a call to action (CTA) to clarify what you expect the recipient to do next. Your CTA might be something like, “I look forward to hearing from you soon.” Or, in a sales message, the CTA might be more specific, like “Click here to save 50%”. The crucial thing is to avoid the recipient being left wondering what your email’s point was and what they should do next. If the email was for information only, then this too should be clearly stated.
- Sign Off with a Thank You
Business communications tend to be more formal than personal messages, but it is best to remain courteous. So, remember to say thank you at the end of your emails. That might be thanking the person in advance for their cooperation or thanking them for what they have sent you. Ensure that your contact information is included in all your business emails, too. Sometimes an email may elicit further communication via another channel. Making it easy for the recipient to find all your contact details will improve the likelihood of getting a speedy response.
- Proofread Business Emails
It is all too easy to type and send an email and later discover that you made an embarrassing mistake. It’s also not a great idea to send a business email when you are angry with the recipient. It is advisable to proofread even the shortest business emails before you send them. If the message is crucial, it can help to save an email as a draft and read again an hour or two later before sending it. Typos can be embarrassing when you are trying to be professional, and messages sent in haste or anger can backfire on you.
To sum up, the perfect business email is concise, gets to the point fast, and contains a clear call to action. Simultaneously, the email will be courteous and contain sufficient pleasantries to avoid being too formal. There are no hard and fast rules about writing business emails. But hopefully, the above tips will help you compose professional emails that achieve the desired results.