Email communication may seem antiquated with all the social media platforms mucking about, but it’s actually still the primary – and preferred – method of communication in business.
You probably do it. Your co-workers do it. Your friends and family do it.
So, what should you know about writing a business email?
1. Ditch CAPS LOCK
Doesn’t that just scream aggressiveness? Really, there is no need to use all caps – ever – unless you’re referring to an acronym or title of some sort.
Subject lines are especially not the place to use caps. It doesn’t make your message any clearer, or any more inviting to open.
In the body of an email if you need to emphasize a point use the underline, bold, or italic tools to do so.
Exclamation points shouldn’t be used whenever you feel like it. They are delicate little punctuation marks and should be reserved for very special moments.
Pro tip: use only one per email. If you use more you may look like you’ve had too much caffeine, don’t know what’s going on and are trying to deflect, or are just plain unprofessional.
3. Say No to Text Lingo
I know we’re all busy, and for some reason we think we’re so busy that typing out “4 u” is quicker than “for you”. You do have time for it. And if you don’t – make some. Text lingo should remain within the confines of our text messages (and even that can be argued).
Why? Because, 1) it doesn’t look professional, 2) not everyone understands that kind of talk which can confuse and ostracize non-text-lingo-knowers and 3) because, I think, it makes you look like a dolt. SMH.
Clients want professionals, not professional texters (unless you work for a twitter campaign or some equally abbreviation dependent field).
4. Know Who Should Be In The Know
That’s just a fancy way of saying don’t hit reply all unless you really want everyone in the company involved. Pay attention to this because people have lost their jobs over it and that’s uncool (and totally preventable).
Also, respect the privacy of the people you are emailing. Use the BCC (blind carbon copy) and CC (carbon copy) appropriately.
5. One Liners Aren’t Funny
If you are about to respond to an email with one word, like “Ok.”, or “Sounds good.” – don’t. If it doesn’t advance the conversation at all just leave it be. Or, make the email worthwhile by saying something like, “Okay, sounds great. I do have one question for you…”
For the email senders, if you know you don’t need responses, let the people know. Include a quick statement that says, “No need to respond to this email unless you have questions or concerns.”
That way your inbox doesn’t fill up like a clogged sink.
How many times have you either A) forgotten to include an attachment, or B) received an email with an attachment but it wasn’t mentioned so you didn’t look for it?
It happens all the time.
Don’t be that person. Double check that you included and mentioned attachments for the sake of everyone. And remember to keep the attachment name logical and the size reasonable.
Yeah, call-to-actions (CTA’s) are usually a component of copywriting but think of it like this: you get an email and three paragraphs in (and many precious minutes later) you’re still unsure why the email exists at all.
No one likes fluff.
Ask your question or make your point in the first few lines of text. Co-workers will thank you. And this leads us to the next pointer…
8. Concise + To The Point
Bullet points are gold. Start the email with a polite and professional greeting then move into your CTA. Now lay out additional information, tips, questions, critical info etc. into bullet points. Follow up with a conclusion and a signature that includes a way to contact you. Simple.
We are in an age of content consumption that trains us to scan the things we read. With all the viral content coming out of content machines like Buzzfeed and Upworthy, we’re used to a certain style of delivery.
So, deliver. You don’t have to be a content marketer to write a quality, concise business email, but taking a few tips from the pros in the field won’t hurt.