Is the world of email for business new to you? While the basics of personal and professional email are similar, they’ve got some important differences to take note of before tackling the list of messages you need to get to. Whether it’s suppliers, investors or employees that you will be emailing on a daily basis, there’s a certain etiquette to business emails that require some attention — so that your messages don’t end up in spam, or worse, in the trash.
Having been in the online industry for over 20 years, we’ve seen our fair share of poor email etiquette. Here are our tips on how to write a business email professionally.
Formalise your email introductions
Business emails aren’t a catch up about your weekend activities, or setting to organising a social event. They’re about getting down to the tasks at hand in a professional manner. This calls for more formal intros than you would use for contacting a friend or family member.
Remove words like ‘Hey’, ‘Howzit’ and ‘Heya’ from your work vocabulary and opt for ‘Hello, ‘Hi’, ‘Good morning or ‘Good afternoon’. Unless you’re on friendly terms with the recipient and you’ve known them for many years, more formal greetings set a professional tone.
Use the 24 hour rule for replies
Replying to emails on time isn’t just a common courtesy, it also shows that you can be relied upon to get to tasks and meetings on time. While inboxes can fill up and you might not get to all your emails straight away, sticking to the 24 hour rule will help you respond within a day, which is a professionally accepted time frame.
Whether you set yourself an alarm or set aside an hour or two in your afternoons, replying to emails within 24 hours is good email etiquette. The last thing you want is for potential suppliers, clients or investors to have to follow up with you to see if you received their mail, days after their first email. It won’t help build faith in you or your brand.
Don’t let slang slip in
Similarly to your introductions, your body copy should be just as professional. Unless you know the person very well and you have mutually set a casual tone with each other, keep slang or potentially uncommon terms out of your writing.
Remember, we live in a country with multiple cultures and languages. Take the time to understand who you are talking to, and keep a simple formal approach to your language until the relationship develops. As the saying goes, rather be safe than sorry!
Use a professional email address
Ever received a seemingly professional email from a prospective colleague, supplier or partner, but noticed their email address includes their service provider’s name? Firstly it looks less professional as their address is a mix of their business or personal name, and their provider’s name. Secondly, their emails are far more likely to end up in your spam folder as their address does not appear business-related.
You don’t want this to be the case for your emails. It’s worth investing in a professional business email setup. A company email address sets the right tone from the get go. This way you can get an email address linked directly to your brand name, without the ‘@gmail’ or ‘@hotmail’ that can make your emails appear ‘spammy’.
Get straight to the point
The world of business and online communication is a busy one. The last thing a recipient needs is an essay to read first thing in the morning. According to Small Biz Trends, almost a third of all readers say they can’t tolerate a long email. Unless the subject matter really calls for in-depth information, make your emails as short and sweet as possible to get the point across in minimal time.
Stick to short sentences, short paragraphs and bullet points to get to your point.
Make use of a signature
An email signature is the perfect ending to an email. Instead of writing a new closing line for every message, you can create the ideal business email format with a pre-set professional closing. It not only looks good, but your unique signature will help recipients remember you as they see your contact details and brand colours at the end of each email from you.
From ‘Kind regards’ to ‘All the best’, you can choose a closing line to suit your brand and keep your tone professional.
So, when you set your company email address up, remember these six tips to write a business email with the right etiquette:
- Stick to formal introductions
- Reply within 24 hours
- Keep your copy professional
- Use a business email address
- Get to the point
- Make use of a signature