How many emails do you get each day? 50? 100? More? Email has become our primary method of communication with our clients and business contacts and with our friends and family too.
In order to ensure that your emails get opened and read it’s important that you follow some simple best practices for email communication:
Be concise and use email-friendly formatting.
Email communication is designed to be succinct and not too wordy. Remember that your message will be part of the onslaught of email that is received each day so make it easy for your recipients to read and absorb the information quickly. Consider using bullet points and boldface to highlight key information. Paragraphs should be short and if you are responding to a question or points raised in an earlier email be certain to reference the original information or send your email as part of the “thread.”
An email thread is an email message that includes a running list of all the succeeding replies starting with the original email. The replies are arranged visually near the original message, usually in chronological order from the first reply to the most recent.
Proofread before hitting “send.”
Take an extra few seconds to proofread your email and check for spelling, word usage (ex. their, there, they’re), grammar as well as “tone” BEFORE sending it out. It’s very easy to miscommunicate your intent in an email and convey a different meaning from the one that you intended. Additionally, spelling and grammatical errors make you look careless.
Use clear and unambiguous subject lines.
The clearer the subject lines the higher your open rate. Don’t try to be mysterious. You want the reader to see the email and click on it rather than assuming the content holds no interest for them or worse yet, assume that the email is spam.
Skip the smiley faces and other cutesy emoticons…at least in business email!
The rule of thumb for business communication is to be professional regardless if you consider the recipient to be a friend. You can’t be faulted for being polished and professional but being too casual can potentially hurt you in the future. (Remember that email can be forwarded and read by others either on purpose or inadvertently. Be careful what you write and send!)
Feeling Upset. Invoke the 24-hour rule.
The benefit of email is that it is so very fast but it is also a downside as well and a good rule of thumb is to not allow emotion get in the way of a rational and professional email message. That being said it is perfectly fine to compose the email in the “heat of the moment” however it’s best to let it sit on your desktop for 24 hours at which time you should reread it and (possibly) hit send. Chances are that you may have “cooled down” and your perspective different after a little time has passed. Note that if there is a deadline or some time urgency involved you might have to send the irate message immediately. In that case, reread your email multiple times to see if you should adjust and temper the wording or tone of the message.
It’s important to remember that email is forever. Email is convenient and efficient but it can also lead to problems and upset. The best advice is to use it carefully.