Email has transformed just about every sphere of society and nowhere is that more clear than in the world of business. Communications that would have once required a phone call, in-person meeting, or fax are now routinely handled quickly and efficiently via email. However, for business emails to reach their full potential it is important to use them effectively. Consider the following 8 fundamentals of sending a successful business email.
Create an On-Point Subject Line
One of the biggest email sins in general, but particularly in a business setting, is sending an email with a missing or unclear subject line. Just about everyone receives a ton of email these days and even if they don’t, they’re still almost certainly busy with other things. A lacking or unclear subject line could make the difference between whether or not the email is opened and read promptly or ignored for days (or forever).
Address the Email Correctly
This may seem obvious but it could be more complicated than you imagine. Many people have multiple active email addresses as well as some they don’t use at all anymore. Naturally for best results you need to send your email to the most appropriate, current address. Even sending a business email to an active personal account could derail your efforts.
Another point to remember when it comes to addressing emails correctly is to effectively use CC and BCC. Are there additional people who should be included in the correspondence? Don’t forget to CC them! If someone’s identity should be protected out of courtesy or obligation make sure to BCC rather than CC. On the other hand if the person is not needed in the correspondence at all you are likely doing them a favor by leaving them off altogether and reducing their inbox clutter.
Be Polite and Courteous
Remember that though this is an email, it’s still a serious business correspondence. Be just as polite and courteous as you would be if you were sending the person an official letter on company letterhead. This is particularly important in the early stages of communication. Let the evolving relationship dictate whether or not a more informal tone is taken in subsequent correspondences, but make sure to play it safe early on.
Be Clear and Concise
As mentioned above, everyone is busy and most people have more than just your email to deal with. Get to the point right away and avoid the temptation to ramble or go off on a tangent. If you have a lot to discuss in your email, consider just calling or setting up a meeting instead. Before you send your email make sure to re-read it and eliminate anything that isn’t pertinent to the subject at hand.
Make Your Request
Make sure that your email doesn’t leave things too open ended or vague. The person should know exactly what you need or want after reading the email and should know what they need to do to follow up. This is comparable to including a clear “call to action” on your website. Don’t send the email if you aren’t sure, and don’t convey, what you want the person to do when they are done reading it.
Provide Relevant Information
It’s important to be brief and concise, but it’s just as important to provide relevant information in your email. If the person has to review a dozen other emails or embark on hours or research in order to respond to your email it gets a lot more tempting to just ignore it or put off answering. Don’t assume the person will know or remember what you are talking about, especially if it’s been awhile. Include all relevant information before you hit send.
Fact- and Spell-Check
Even if the information isn’t directly related to your business it will damage your credibility if you misspell words or make flat out incorrect statements. Obviously it’s even worse if the error is directly related to your business. If you’re unsure about something, check. If you think something is correct but aren’t completely positive, check anyway. Finally always make sure to edit your email for typos, missing and double words, or other errors before sending it.
People often unknowingly set the tone for current and future communications by how promptly and thoroughly they respond to their emails. If it takes you days – or hours in a faced-paced environment – to email someone back, that indirectly sends the message that it’s okay for them to put off your emails and messages too. Likewise if you say you’re going to send someone some information or check on something, do it sooner rather than later. Being prompt shows that you care about the business at hand and the business relationship in general.
Following these 8 fundamentals of sending a successful business email won’t guarantee business success, but it will guarantee that you at least give your email every chance of succeeding. Once again it is important to consider the appropriateness of sending an email at all. Some topics are better discussed in person or by phone. Likewise some people may be easier to reach using one communication method as opposed to another.