Writing effective business emails is an essential, yet underappreciated, skill. Business emails are concise, demonstrating respect for readers’ time. They also encourage collaboration, through tone and attention to detail.
Effective business emails help individuals and organizations succeed. To increase your business emails’ effectiveness, observe these sensible rules of etiquette.
Business Email Best Practices
Apply these too-often-overlooked rules of thumb to external and internal company emails.
- Address others respectfully. Don’t take liberties with names, like calling Susan “Susie,” without knowing her preference. Don’t refer to coworkers by nicknames that aren’t business-appropriate.
- Get to the point. Ask and answer questions early in your email.When messaging someone you don’t know, introduce yourself and your reason for contacting them in your opening paragraph. Name-drop shared acquaintances here.
- Respond to all questions or requests. Don’t put a recipient in the position of having to ask again. If you don’t know something, say so, and point them toward another person or resource who can help.
- Reply to important emails within one business day. All emails aren’t equally important. A software service like SaneBox will prioritize your incoming email intelligently. SaneBox sorts messages into folders according to your inbox history–how you have interacted with previous incoming emails–and continues learning your preferences.
- Use plain language. Your objective is to be understood easily.
- Put the email subject line to work. Indicate your email’s content. Include “urgent,” if appropriate. Don’t leave it blank.
- Be succinct.
- Use bullet points. Avoid fussy punctuation and emojis/emoticons. Some email programs filter out messages that look spammy.
- End with a recommendation or call to action. For example, “This recap is informational only. No response necessary.” Or, “Please notify the team when the new templates are ready.”
- Use a professional-looking email signature. Include your name, title, company, phone number(s), and email address. Set it to show only once on an email thread.
- Run a spelling and grammar check before pressing “Send.” Each and every time.
- Double-check your facts. You don’t want to be the source of incorrect information.
- Is your attachment attached? Does it have a logical name, and is it in an appropriate file format? Do your links work?
- To be extra careful, don’t enter email addresses until you’ve completed and reviewed your message.
- Don’t send or reply to an email when you’re hot under the collar. Take a deep breath or ten.
- Use positive, supportive language. You want your recipients to look forward to your messages, not dread them.
- “Reply All” judiciously. It’s not always necessary. Bcc recipients to hide distribution lists
- DON’T USE ALL CAPS!!! (Or aggressive punctuation.)
- When in doubt, leave it out. Humor, in particular, is easily misinterpreted and might offend others. Remember: Once you send an email, it’s out there in the universe. Forever.
- Don’t forward questionable links or attachments. Cybercriminals want your help. Don’t give it to them.
- Don’t include potentially sensitive information, unless you confirm it’s ok. You don’t want to leak proprietary secrets to competitors or company news that influences the stock market.
- If you’re a small business and use a personal email account, be sure the email address sounds professional.
These rules of thumb aren’t a recommendation to spend even more of your valuable work hours crafting emails. They’re a recommendation to make the time you already spend more impactful. Workers are flooded by emails all day, every day. Make yours the ones recipients read.