On average, 121 emails are sent every day in professional settings. It is an essential tool for business communication, but still, many people don’t know how to communicate effectively via email. When you have to juggle several tasks at work, it’s easy to take shortcuts. But proper email etiquette is not just “nice to have”; it can make or break deals, inter-office communications, job offers, etc. Especially with the rise of remote working culture, email etiquettes have become more crucial than ever before.
As we step into the new year, it’s a good time to polish your email etiquettes and make your communication more effective.
So here we present all the email etiquette best practices to help you perfect your email communication and leave a great impression on your recipients.
What is Email Etiquette?
When we interact in formal settings, we must follow a code of etiquette and ethics. Email is no different. Email etiquettes comprise the set of rules that guide what’s appropriate and what isn’t when sending and receiving emails. Email etiquettes depend on the purpose, situation, the recipient, and the relationship you have with them.
Why is Following Email Etiquette Important?
When communicating online, we don’t have the benefits that come with face-to-face interactions, like the tone of our voice, expressions, etc. By using proper email etiquette, we can communicate our work ethics, professionalism, intelligence, and aptitude. When our emails lack adequate grammar, sentences, and tone, they reflect poorly. Therefore, polishing our email etiquettes should be at the top of our priorities to make our communications more efficient and succeed in our careers. The best practices described below will help you write better and more effective emails.
Email Etiquette Best Practices
1.Use a Professional Email
If you are a part of a professional organization, it is good to send emails using your company email address. Even if you are using a personal email account for professional correspondences, make sure to use a professional-looking email address that conveys your name. Using a professional email address for email communication is one of the best ways to ensure your emails are opened and read. Ideas for creating a professional-looking email address is described below:
2.Write a Clear Subject Line
As per Statista, there has been an uptick in the number of emails sent each year globally since 2017. This figure is expected to reach 380 billion daily emails by 2025.
All these numbers point out that people will be receiving more and more emails every year. So, making your emails stand out in the sea of emails is very important. The type of subject line you use can significantly impact whether your email gets opened or not.
What are the best practices for effective business email subject lines? When creating your subject lines, aim for a clear and short sentence that precisely describes your purpose.
- Use identifiers such as “application” and “proposal.”
- Avoid using spam words at all costs. Some most common spam words are listed in the box below.
Source: Campaign Monitor
A big mistake many people make when sending emails is not using subject lines at all, which is a clear violation of email etiquette. Not using a subject line will make your recipient wary of you, and your message may be sent straight to the trash.
3.Start With a Professional Greeting
A warm smile and a simple hello would be enough in personal communication, but when emailing a person, the way you start your email could prompt the recipient to continue reading or close the email. So choose your words carefully.
How you greet the recipient in an email will depend on many factors, such as – your relationship with them and your purpose.
Greetings and salutations vary from very formal to informal. Some of the most common greetings include:
The way you start your email provides a basis for creating a critical first impression in business communications.
4.Don’t Forget to Introduce Yourself
How you introduce yourself will define your future correspondence with the recipient.
Never assume that the person on the other end knows who you are. A brief introduction is a part of email etiquette, and it should have the following two key points:
- Who are you?
- Why are you writing?
The below example explains the above two points well
If you already know the recipient, don’t forget to mention the last time you talked or how you knew each other.
5.Keep it Short and to-the-point
When you have emails piling up, the last thing you want to do is go through lengthy emails.
Nobody wants to skim through long paragraphs to find out what your message is about. So be upfront about your email’s purpose by stating it at the start. Don’t use long sentences, but use bullet points to express the essential points if you need to cover different topics.
Always edit your message before hitting send to ensure it’s free from errors and unnecessary words.
6.Avoid using Sarcasm or Jokes
Use the right tone and expression to convey your messages. Avoid using sarcasm and humor at all costs, as the reader can misinterpret it. Like face-to-face communications, you can’t use facial expressions and intonation in online communications, so make an extra effort to use the right tone. Be straightforward and leave no room for disagreement about what your message means. Avoid using phrases that could be misconstrued.
7.Respect Cultural Differences
To avoid miscommunications arising due to cultural differences, make sure to tailor your message to your recipients’ cultural backgrounds. For example, high-context cultures like Japanese and Arabs like to know the recipient well before engaging with them. On the other hand, low-context cultures, like American, German, and others, prefer to get straight to the point.
8.Use Exclamation Points With Caution
Be cautious when using exclamation points in business emails. Try to use them minimally and only when you intend to express excitement. Using it too often can make you appear unprofessional and immature.
9.Refrain from Discussing Private Matters
Avoid discussing private matters over emails if you want to prevent your emails from being passed around. Several things may happen, like you may accidentally hit send all, or your recipient may be using a non-secure service. If you still want to share confidential information via email, make sure to use an email program that supports encryption. But sharing private matters over email communications is still not a good idea because emails have to pass through multiple servers, including the ISPs, with each server having a copy of your email.
10.Use short URLs
Long URLs give a messy look to your emails and make your messages harder to read. So shorten your URL using a URL shortener or insert a hyperlink instead.
11.Use Clean Fonts
Make your emails easy for the recipients to read using a clean font. If in doubt, consider using the standard font of your email client.
Some of the most preferred fonts for emails are:
- Times New Roman
The size of the fonts can be kept between 10-point-12-point, depending on the length of your email.
Avoid using one-liners like, “Thanks,” “No Problem,” “Okay.” By using one-liners, you risk coming across as rude, and they don’t help progress the communication in any way.
13.Never use Jargon, Slang, or SMS lingo
It’s never appropriate to use shortcuts to actual words, like “u” instead of “you” or “Gr8” instead of “Great,” as they make you look unprofessional. Also, avoid using slang or jargon that may annoy your recipient.
14.Use a Professional Sign-Off
How you sign off an email relies on your relationship with the recipient. As a rule of thumb, match the sign-off with the greeting you used at the start of your email to maintain a consistent tone.
Sign-off is the last thing recipients read. So make sure to get it right. It has the same effect as the conclusion of a meeting or the end of a phone call.
Some effective email sign-offs to use are summed up below:
15. Include a Signature
A professional email signature includes all your professional information, like the example used below.
You can also use your company logo or your picture but make sure the design is responsive.
16.Always double-check the Recipient’s Name Before you hit Send
NEVER misspell your recipients’ names or address them by the wrong name altogether. It is a surefire way to annoy them and get blocked.
You can avoid these careless errors by double-checking your recipients’ names. Not writing your email recipient’s name correctly is one of the gravest email etiquette mistakes.
17.Never hit send without Proofreading your Email
While this one is a no-brainer, many people avoid this obvious yet important step when in a hurry. Misspellings and grammatical errors will reflect poorly on you, so always check the subject line and email body at least twice to catch mistakes before they become an embarrassment.
18.Compress Large Attachments
Avoid attaching large files to your emails. If you do have to attach large files, consider uploading them to a cloud service like Dropbox and send your recipients a link to it. You can also consider compressing the file before attaching it, so it takes less space in their inbox.
19.Give Timely Responses
Make sure to reply promptly to the emails that matter to you. Responding to your emails on time sends a message to the sender that you value their time. There are no definitive rules but, you should try to respond to the people known to you within the same day and people not known to you by the end of the workweek – unless it’s urgent.
20.Respond to all your Emails
It’s easy to ignore emails when you have a flooding inbox and hectic schedule. But it’s good email etiquette to respond to every email addressed to you. Not responding to an email from someone known to you or a business associate makes you come across as impolite and likely to affect your professional relationships.
21.Remember to set out-of-office replies
When you are unavailable to answer your emails for any reason, consider setting up an automated out-of-office reply that lets people know about your unavailability. Don’t forget to mention the specific date when you’ll be back so that people can communicate accordingly. It also helps to include “Out of Office” in the subject line along with the date of your return.
Knowing the most crucial business email etiquette rules will help you look competent and communicate better and more efficiently.
We have tried to cover almost every rule to help you refine your emails for more success. If we have missed out on any point, we’d be glad to hear from you!