Email Etiquette 101
At Email on Acid, we relish in the fact that we can wear jeans to work and partake in the occasional Mario-Kart session with coworkers. With the emergence of start-ups like our own, it has become clear that this more casual type of company culture has taken the business world by storm, transforming offices into more creative and enjoyable spaces. With this said, it can also cause companies to blur the line between professional and personal forms of communication.
As a company that sees thousands of marketing and sales emails on a daily basis, it has become clear that this casual approach to business emailing doesn’t always translate as hoped (i.e. loss in ROI). How can we strike the balance between loving the companies we work for, and upholding professionalism in our business communications? Here are some tips for bringing good old-fashioned manners back into your business emails!
Make a good first impression
In any relationship, particularly those in business, making a good first impression will inarguably determine the future of the relationship. While you may have honed in on a potential lead at a networking event, you cannot assume that you made an impression on them. Including a brief reminder of who you are in relation to the person you’re reaching out to is a polite way to reassert your relevance. By no means is this a call to include your unabridged autobiography: provide just enough detail to give the lead an idea of why you should matter to them. Furthermore, approach this introduction respectfully. AKA, don’t come out guns blazing and demand a sale. Consider your introduction email as a formal first chapter to your relationship with the lead. Before sending any introductory email, ask yourself if your email introduction serves as a strong and impressive handshake.
P.S. It should go without saying that your email greeting should be consistent with the level of formality of your business relationship. “Dear Mr. Jones” may not be as appropriate in some situations as “Hello Brian.” However, no matter how tight your bond is with this correspondent, greetings such as “Yo!” or “Sup” have no place in business emails.
As in any relationship, your professional relationships are built and sustained through respect. Show your customers and coworkers that you respect their time by being punctual with your response. So what does punctuality mean in email? Good question.
With coworkers that you work closely with, and to whom your response is needed to work efficiently, it is best to respond within twelve hours of the email being sent. Attempt to answer the email by the end of the business day received to help your team function effectively. Other, less immediate, colleagues would undoubtedly appreciate the same response treatment; however, taking up to 24 hours to respond to these emails is still considered appropriate.
In communicating with customers and other external business contacts, punctuality is a little harder to define. If you’ve received an email from a higher value contact, prioritize your response so you can get back to them within the 24-48 hours it was sent. For other, less urgent contacts, responding by the end of the business week is appropriate.
If you can’t find the time to appropriately respond to emails within this “punctual” time frame, maintain your respectful relationship by firing off a quick email that assures that you’ve received the message while relaying that you’ll respond as soon as you can.
Don’t Let Your Mood Dictate Your Manners
Bumper-to-bumper traffic, a stressful meeting, and getting turned down by a prospective customer all combine to put you in a terrible mood by noon. You’re considering firing off an email to a coworker to express your anger at their lack of preparedness during the meeting. Stop right there…
This is a quick reminder that email correspondences last forever, not just for the 30 minutes you were feeling frustrated. Thanks to email servers and the mystery that is the cloud, generations to come will have access to your angry rant. While email may seem like an informal type of communication, particularly within an intra-office context, it can serve as permanent record of your stress-induced outburst.
So consider this before you hit send: should your temporary mood be on permanent display? Let yourself cool off before sending anything emotionally-charged. This will help you to dodge embarrassment when your coworker confusedly responds a few hours later and your mood has already turned around.
P.S. The same goes for overly excited email exchanges. Even if you’re having an incredible day, be wary of exclamation points and sounding over-eager; this can come off as an immature and unprofessional in many cases.
There’s just something about a thank you card. Recognizing a customer or coworker for giving something of value can serve to validate their effort AND encourage positive feelings about you/your brand. In customers, positive feelings toward your brand typically serve as a catalyst for repeat purchases.
With this said, be measured in your thank-you emails. Being overly emphatic or sending emails to thank customers for every positive action they perform can be off-putting and leave the impression that you are not used to hearing “yes” often, which can make them reconsider their own agreement.
Part of being gracious is practicing common courtesy. In business emails, this means making the effort to communicate in an educated and professional manner. Typing in full sentences, using proper grammar, and not overdoing abbreviations can go a long way to convey courtesy to correspondents.
Another overlooked, yet mission critical step marketers can make is failing to thoroughly test their email campaign across multiple email clients and mobile devices, in order to identify and fix rendering issues before they send. Testing your email to make sure that it looks flawless in your customers’ inboxes will not only protect your email ROI, but also helps to establish your image as a gracious and courteous business partner.
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