A guest post written by our member Vincent Goode from Speedprint.co.uk:
For most of us, apart from letterheads, email is the most common form of business communication so it’s important to get it right. Although emails usually aren’t as formal as letters, they still need to be professional to present a good image of you and your company.
Make the subject line enticing for the recipient to want to open. Probably best not to mention Viagra!
Just starting your message Colin, regarding your email… is a little curt and unfriendly. So, start your email with a polite salutation, such as “Dear Colin”. If your relationship with the reader is formal, use their family name (for example “Dear Mr Farrell”).
If the relationship is more casual, you can simply say, “Hi Colin”. Hi is fine, but when I’ve been corresponding with legal firms and barristers chambers, I noticed they always use “Dear Vincent“ which I have now adopted for all my emails.
Another good rule of thumb when replying to an email is to mirror their greeting. So if they say Hi Vincent, you reply Hi Colin, if they say, Good afternoon (or good morning), you reply the same.
If you are replying to a client’s email, you should begin with a brief line of thanks. For example, if someone has sent you an enquiry, you should open with, say, “Thank you for your email“. Nothing beats politeness in this day and age.
I also use “I hope you are well“ if I’m emailing someone I know. To make it scan better, perhaps you can use “Thank you for your email and I hope you are well.”
Now you’ve got the niceties out of the way, get straight to the purpose of your message.
Make your point early on in the message, and then move into the main text of your email. Remember, people want to read emails quickly. Nobody’s got the time to read a novel, so keep it short and sweet.
You’ll also need to pay careful attention to grammar, spelling and punctuation so that you present a professional image of yourself and your company.
We’re not kids sending text messages here. This is business and it is absolutely vital that you proof read your email before hitting the send button. Otherwise it comes across as lazy and unprofessional. And that you don’t really care about your business enough, which is not a good thing.
Before you end your email, it’s polite to thank your reader one more time and add some polite closing remarks.
I like to finish a printing quotation with “I look forward to finalising your order“, “I await your instructions” or “kindly let me know how you wish to proceed.” It’s positive, and gives the impression, without being too over-confident, that you have good expectations of winning the business.
At the end of the message include an appropriate closing signature followed by your name. “Best regards”, “Sincerely”, and “Many thanks” are all good.
Avoid closings such as or “Cheers” or “Ta muchly”, unless you are good friends with the recipient.
I usually employ “Many thanks and kind regards” as my standard close.
Don’t be too casual – only put an “x“ if you really know that person. A potential business contact doesn’t want to read that you love them! There’s time for flirting later!
Limited use of emoticons in emails can sometimes help to convey the intended tone of your message, but I would hold off using informal smiley faces until you’ve established a relationship.
THERE’S NO NEED TO SHOUT!! Lazy people use caps. This is seen as shouting. DON’T SHOUT!!
Don’t drive people mad after sending your initial email, if you follow-up 2 or 3 times too quickly before you’ve had a response, you may harm your chances of getting an order.
Another small point, emails look friendly and easier to read in a mid-blue colour.
Also choice of typeface is important. Times New Roman is a little bit formal and Arial is boring. I like Lucida Fax or Calibri. If you are an infant school teacher, you have my permission to use Comic Sans, but not for a business email!
Finally, before you hit the send button, review and spell check your email one more time to make sure it all reads correctly.
If you happen to be a pedantic old git like me, the typos will jump out a mile when receiving an email, and that puts me right off. Perhaps we should take into consideration, English might not be the sender’s first language, or they may have dyslexia, but most times, it’s just plain laziness.
Wouldn’t you hate to miss out on an order or a lucrative business meeting because of a sloppily worded email? It’s worth putting in the time to make your correspondence look the best it possibly can.
Many thanks and kind regards,
A useful article thanks Vince. Personally, I use Grammarly to help with my spelling and grammar – a very worthwhile tool if you haven’t checked it out already. https://grammarly.com