Proper Email Etiquette 101: 12 Golden Rules You Should Follow
Emoji or no emoji? To sign on with a ‘Dear’ or a ‘Hi’, or nothing at all? What about whether to use ‘Yours sincerely’, or a ‘Cheers’?
Emails can be hard. An email with proper email etiquette can make the difference between a successful working relationship or potential confusion, insult, or conflict. All of which can be heightened if your employees are constantly working remotely.
In this constantly changing, fast-paced tech world, we can sometimes forget how important proper email etiquette is. Technology has engaged teens especially, with positive fast-paced interactions. Unfortunately, many negative effects can result from not using proper email etiquette.
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What is proper email etiquette with friends in emails and on social networking sites may not be appropriate when looking for a job, applying to college, or conversing with someone in authority. Being correct in your email correspondence is key to standing out.
What Is Proper Email Etiquette?
Email etiquette is a set of implied protocols for writing or answering emails in a socially or professionally acceptable way. The etiquette varies depending on whom you are sending it to and differs for professional and personal emails.
For example, the emails you send to your friends and colleagues are two different beings. You don’t have to fret about sounding rude or unprofessional when emailing friends. But with colleagues, you have to maintain proper decorum in your emails. You have to use the proper salutation, a respectful send-off, etc.
Why Is Proper Email Etiquette Important?
When communicating with someone, our expressions and what we say matter as much as how we say it. In emails, we remove the voice and expression, so we have to convey it properly through the written content.
This is why etiquette for writing emails is so important because it helps you convey your message clearly, and it also helps achieve the following:
Using proper email language, you and your organization will convey a professional image.
It helps you improve your communication skills. Emails which get to the point are much more effective than badly conveyed emails.
Clarity of expression:
Use appropriate tone to avoid being misunderstood or misinterpreted.
Protection from liability:
Awareness of email stakes will protect you and your organization from costly lawsuits.
Retain control over messaging:
In this world of texting, tweeting, and emailing, language has changed, which isn’t unusual. I would argue, however, that because of all this texting, tweeting, and emailing, we’ve become much lazier in our language usage when writing business emails. To have proper business email etiquette, eliminating such words and phrases are essential.
Following directly from the previous point, writers who lose control of their emails cannot reliably predict the outcome of sending the messages. Precision and clarity in email writing are crucial elements of email etiquette.
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What Is Proper Email Etiquette You Should Follow?
The proper email communication can differ depending on the purpose of the email, who the recipient is, what industry you work in, etc. Nevertheless, here are some basic etiquettes that you need to know to write a decent email for any purpose.
Include A Clear, Direct Subject Line:
Examples of a good subject line include, “Meeting date changed,” “Quick question about your presentation,” or “Suggestions for the proposal.”
People often decide whether to open an email based on the subject line. Choose one that lets readers know you are addressing their concerns or business issues.
Follow A Proper Email Format:
When writing a formal business email, it’s wise to follow the correct email format:
- Subject line: describe what the email is about in a few words
- Email greeting: Mention the recipient’s name and add a proper greeting
- Body: Write the main message and ask
- Signature: Include your name, surname, company name, and sign-off
Use A Professional Email Address:
Your email id should be your first name or a combination of your first and last name. It is acceptable to use one or two numbers along with your name but avoid any weird names or adjectives in your email id.
If you work for a company, you should use your company email address. But if you use a personal email account–whether you are self-employed or just like using it occasionally for work-related correspondences–you should be careful when choosing that address
Maintain A Professional Tone:
When writing a professional email, make sure you maintain a polite and friendly tone. Also, provide information that’s factual rather than emotional. Finally, don’t use nicknames in the salutation of a formal email.
You should never use ALL CAPS when writing an email as it is perceived as shouting and comes across as aggressive behavior.
Use Proper Salutations:
A salutation is a fancy word for your email greeting. Your greeting can be formal or informal depending on the email’s context. For example, an email to a new client should generally be more formal than one sent to a close work colleague asking about their weekend.
Regardless, your greeting sets the tone for your email, so choose it wisely. Barbara Patcher, the author of The Essentials of Business Etiquette, recommends avoiding any informal expressions like “Hey” or “Hi folks.” Instead, use “Hi” or “Hello.”
In contrast, steer away from overly formal greetings like “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam.”
In general, you can start a formal business email with any of these greetings:
- Dear (insert name)
- Hello (insert name)
- Hi (insert name)
- Greetings (insert name)
- Good morning (insert name)
- Good evening (insert name)
Mark Recipients In The Appropriate Tags:
‘To’ is the place where you have to include the people who need to take any required action related to the email. For example, you can put your assistant in the ‘to’ section when sending an email to ask her to change your schedule.
CC (carbon copy) is where you can include people you don’t want to take any action but be aware of the changes.
BCC (blind carbon copy) is where you can add people whose identity has to be kept a secret. The other email recipients can’t see the people who are added to the BCC.
For example, the email id of a secret partner or investor of the company has to be protected so put them in bcc appropriately while sending an email.
Don’t Email About Confidential or Private Information:
Your email remains on the server even after you have deleted it from your account. So it’s always best to talk about confidential information in meetings or phone calls than in emails.
Proofread Your Emails:
The occasional spelling or grammar mistake is unavoidable. But if your emails are always littered with them, it’s a problem: You look unprofessional and like you don’t care about your job — not a good image to portray among colleagues and clients.
So, proofread every email before sending it, especially those longer ones. It also doesn’t hurt to have a fellow colleague give your email once over.
And, don’t be shy to use tools like Grammarly to catch any errors.
When you have to reply to an email, make sure that you re-read the email and review it for any errors before you send it. For example, check for readability, format issues, and correct grammar usage, as an error in any of these can affect how the recipient perceives your email.
Also, before you hit reply, make sure you are not hitting the reply-all button, leading to a load of confusion and complications as it becomes annoying if it’s not relevant to them.
Keep The Email Body Clear And Brief:
When writing a copy of your email, it’s best to start with the main point first and then explain the context of why you are sending the email. Avoid writing long emails with too many paragraphs. Instead, you can use bullets to keep it concise and legible.
Don’t Share Controversial Topics:
If you receive an email containing offensive comments (racist, sexist, etc.), refrain from sharing such emails with other people as it can damage your reputation amongst people.
Think Twice Before Hitting “Reply All.”
No one wants to read emails from 20 people that have nothing to do with them. Ignoring the emails can be difficult, with many people getting notifications of new messages on their smartphones or distracting pop-up messages on their computer screens. Refrain from hitting “Reply All” unless you really think everyone on the list needs to receive the email.
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In the end, there are many ways you can write an email, and the proper etiquette differs based on the context. While a bad email copy will not necessarily be harmful to your reputation, an improper salutation, greeting, etc., is not easily forgotten.