With 4.2 billion email users worldwide in 2022, it’s more important than ever to have proper email etiquette. How an email reads says a lot about the person writing it, especially if the recipient has never met you before.
Think of email etiquette as a digital form of body language, and know that professional email etiquette makes for a great first impression.
We have all heard email horror stories across the workplace, from saying something you shouldn’t in an email and then forwarding it to the wrong person, to sending the wrong email to the wrong client and landing yourself in hot water.
In this article, I will give you 11 quality business email etiquette tips that will have you writing killer business emails and save you time, energy, and hassle to make you and the recipients of your emails more productive.
Business email etiquette rules.
1. Make sure you have your CTA in the Subject line.
Have a clear call to action in email subject lines and an excellent short title description of what the email is all about.
A great example of a good subject line is “meeting location changed” or “revised presentation” these two subject lines are punchy and to the point; there is no ambiguity about what the email subject will be.
A person decides if they should open an email based on two things, who it’s from and the subject line; there isn’t much you can do about who the email is from because it’s from you.
So, the only thing you can influence in opening an email is a punchy email title. This is massively important for monthly marketing emails, but equally so for getting your work colleagues to open and read your emails.
2. Use a professional email address.
If you are sending a formal business email, it’s essential that you use a professional email address. Using a Gmail or Yahoo! email address for your business looks like you are not serious about your business.
Get a professional email address with your domain after it and your company name on it, preferably utilizing a .com address from your company website.
Not only will this give a professional tone, but it will look highly professional to the email recipients and is the correct way to go about modern business communication.
3. Don’t be an angry Emailer.
How often have you read an email the wrong way, even when it wasn’t meant to be taken in that context? It’s easy to misread an email, even when it is not supposed to be that way.
So, imagine you send out an angry email; this will amplify the anger tenfold by how someone reads it. You should never send angry words in an email and should never talk negatively about colleagues or clients in an email; these are significant no-nos when looking at email etiquette.
Because emails now seem so informal, many people fall into this trap, and once something is written down, it lasts forever.
Another thing to consider on the angry email front is using exclamation points, high-importance tags (unless it is high importance), or using capital letters in an email.
I don’t like it when someone puts the “high importance” tag on an email, then, even worse, ends sentences with an exclamation mark. If that sentence is in capitals with an exclamation mark, that could send me over the edge.
We all know that capital letters in an email is construed as shouting, right? And you wouldn’t do that in public, so don’t do it in an email.
4. Make sure you always proofread your emails.
If you want to gain respect amongst your clients and work colleagues, then make sure you proofread every email you send; spelling errors in a formal email shows poor etiquette.
I once drafted an email out quickly; in fact, it was that quick that it had all sorts of spelling mistakes and other mistakes in it, which I knew of, but I saved the email as a draft; then, when it came to sending I didn’t proofread it and sent it out.
It was only afterward, when I read it in horror, that it looked like it had been written by a five-year-old. Come to think of it a five-year-old could have probably done a better job.
I felt embarrassed about this email, and since then, I have always made a point of proofreading my emails before I send them. It will save you a lot of embarrassment believe me.
5. Check the thread.
I have fallen victim to this one before too; This is when earlier on in an email chain you said something you shouldn’t have, then after a few backward and forwards, the forwarded email is then copied to other people, and your faux par is sitting in the email thread for the people who it wasn’t intended for to see it.
This can make you look like a fool and, even worse, could offend someone, and then you will have some apologizing to do, or in the worst-case scenarios, it could cost you your job or result in you losing a client if you are a business owner.
You may start off in the email talking personally with someone you know really well, but as that email conversation develops into talk about work or projects, other people may be copied into the email chain, and they may see sensitive or confidential information they weren’t supposed to.
6. Be brief and to the point.
How many emails do you get that drag on and on over paragraphs with useless information which doesn’t contain relevant information or isn’t straight to the point? People now use emails like full-blown telephone conversations writing every single thing that comes into their head onto the email.
Keep your emails brief and to the point. Emails are supposed to be like text messages rather than phone calls; think Twitter style. Being forced to write a tweet in 280 characters really forces you to focus on your point, and the same should be done with email.
If you need to say more than that, then pick up the phone; only use an email if you can get to the point quickly, and it’s easy to understand; if it takes three paragraphs to explain, maybe it’s best to pick up the telephone.
7. Know Your Audience.
You wouldn’t speak to your boss or an important client like you speak with your friends in the local bar on a night out, would you? So please don’t do it in emails.
Think about your audience and make the language in the email match the people receiving it. For example, don’t start your email with “Alright, Tony” and sign it off with “catch you later” save that for your mates at the bar.
Instead, if Tony is a work colleague or a client, then start your email with “Good afternoon Tony, or Good morning Tony,” depending on the time of day, and I usually sign off with something like “kind Regards” and then your name.
Be respectful of the people receiving the email and be mindful of your language and the subject, being cognizant of who is actually receiving the email and who could potentially see it in the future.
Remember, if you wouldn’t be happy for your mother to read it, it probably shouldn’t be in professional email correspondence.
8. Email signatures.
Design a nice simple professional signature for all of your emails, have one in HTML format and one in plain text format; try to keep it simple, and test it to make sure it works.
The number of emails I have had with email signatures where all of the elements of it are delivered as attachments as the email signature doesn’t work correctly drives me insane.
Have your sign-off response above the email, such as “kind regards,” as we mentioned earlier, obviously your name, your job title, and contact details as a minimum.
If you want to get fancy with sign-offs, you can put website links and social media links like a Linkedin profile on there too, but keep in mind the more you put in there, the larger the email will be, so be cautious in this regard.
9. Use Hyperlinks where possible.
An excellent productivity hack to save your team and recipients of your emails time is to hyperlink the content in your emails where relevant.
So, if you are referring to a product or article online, hyperlink this in the email to save people time looking for it or, even worse, use the wrong product or article you weren’t referring to.
It’s pretty easy to do, highlight the work you want to hyperlink, right-click on windows, select “link,” then type in or cut and paste the address you wish to that word to link to, or search for a document you want to link to on a server for example.
It’s great for linking online documents, too. It increases productivity by saving people time looking for documents.
10. Appropriate response window
Part of good email etiquette is responding to someone else’s email within an appropriate timescale of receiving it. Sometimes, email correspondence can sit in your inbox for a day or so before you get around to replying to it, and that’s fine. But if someone takes the time to email you, especially if it’s essential, then you should make an effort to reply quickly.
This is where the art of emailing comes into its own, as people who are good at emailing will generally get back to people immediately after receiving the email. They understand that email is a two-way street and that for it to be helpful, both parties must reply quickly.
This is where mobile devices have had such an impact on emailing as now we can all reply to emails practically anywhere at any time which is great for productivity.
11. Consider who needs to be on the email.
Being tagged onto every email conversation, which has nothing to do with me, really grinds on me and reduces productivity; we all get enough emails daily that we have to contend with, so getting a massive influx of emails you have to read which have nothing to do with you is just a complete waste of time.
Many people tag everyone in every email about every project or subject, but because I am respectful of other people’s time; unless I am specifically asked to copy someone in on every project email, I only send the email to people for who I need an answer from in that email or who it concerns.
This saves the recipient a considerable amount of time reading through email chains that don’t have any call to action for them.
If you are emailing a group of people, and you need everyone to take action on the email, then put everyone’s email address in the TO: field if you want someone to be aware of what is going on and don’t need them to do anything then just CC: them into the email.
This is standard email etiquette that many people don’t seem to understand.
Only use BCC when emailing a large group.
If you are emailing a larger group of people, say over 50, then it is best practice to use the BCC: (blind carbon copy) field as this hides all the email addresses of the people you are emailing from each other.
If everyone did this, the workplace would be much more productive, don’t you agree?
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me
Lee, now the author of Learn Life Money, has started businesses in various industries such as E-commerce to social media marketing. He is an award-winning entrepreneur having received awards from Dragons Den Theo Paphitis, and winning awards for the fastest-growing social media marketing agency in 2019, You can read his full story here. Lee helps people to start and scale their businesses using their knowledge and experience. He has a passion is to help others achieve the success he has achieved and wants to help people pave their path to financial freedom from making the right decisions with money to starting their own businesses.