Business email practices have to meet requirements of both sender and receiver. As per these rules, there are wide range of rules for writing business emails. The sender must keep these rules into consideration or change the email text accordingly. Here we discuss those rules which are necessary to follow by any professional or official staff at their workplace. Following those rules can increase the client relations in a better way.
Business email is one of the most important marketing communication tools for businesses. It’s also one of the most frequently misused, inappropriate and ignored tools, because it just happens to be so simple. No other medium has the same impact on customer decision-making, and yet most businesses take it for granted.
Why implement email best practices for your team at work?
The answer is quite simple: it’s wasting our time and money. The average office worker spends 28% of their work week on email. Not surprisingly, much of this time isn’t productive. Some of these emails may be urgent. Others can be dealt with in time. Unfortunately, without proper email management, inboxes can easily become a disaster:
- Managing hundreds of emails is time-consuming.
- Not all work emails are relevant or helpful—most of them don’t need to be read.
- Work emails can eat into workers’ personal time and follow you into your home life (thanks, smartphones.)
- It can create distractions and pull your team off task.
- As with all non-verbal, non-face-to-face communication, there is potential for miscommunication in email.
To avoid email-gone-wrong, try adapting these 10 email management best practices at work.
Manage group emails in a shared inbox
When you’re part of a group email alias, like firstname.lastname@example.org, every person on your team receives a copy of an email. Then you all have to read it, and you all have to decide what to do with it. Unless it’s something that truly the whole team needed to read, then that email has wasted everyone’s time. That adds up. Using a shared inbox solves this, especially when the group email address is used for customer communication or requests that can and should only be addressed by one human.
In a shared inbox, everyone can see what emails are in the queue. You’re all looking at the same copy. When one person opens an email and replies to it, that shows for everyone. When you archive an email from a shared inbox, it gets archived for everyone—so no duplicate replies, and no wasted time reading emails that have already been handled. It’s a win-win.
Gmail and Outlook have shared inbox solutions they’ve built to adapt to group email for business, but of course we recommend Front since it’s a customer communication platform specifically designed for businesses who need to manage team email together. You can read more about the options in our guide to shared inbox management for client and customer facing teams.
Designate specific times for emails
If you’re bouncing in and out of your inbox constantly, you aren’t giving anything else appropriate attention. Chances are, the emails that are getting your attention aren’t any more relevant than the tasks they’re disrupting. Instead of constantly checking your emails, consider turning off notifications. Then, designate two or three times each day to spend fifteen minutes checking your emails, and responding to them. This way, each correspondence will get the attention it deserves without disrupting anything else.
Implement guidelines for writing emails concisely
It’s frustrating to read a multi-paragraph email only to realize the majority of points could be summed up in a few sentences, especially when all of that detail isn’t relevant to you. That’s why writing concisely is so important.
More words in your email doesn’t mean you did more work. Giving your team a debrief on this fact can be extremely helpful for getting everyone on the same page—because you’ll all be more efficient if you’re not reading novelettes every time you get an email from a teammate. We’ve written a whole piece about leaving unnecessary words and phrases out of your emails, but you can get a summary of what it covers below:
- Did I remove fluff and filler words like, “Just touching base,” and, “Looking forward to hearing your thoughts?”
- Did I use the shortest version of every phrase? For example, turn “With the exception of” into “except”?
- Every time you write a paragraph in an email, think, “Can this be bullets?” Turn it into bullets if so.
- If it really must be long, can you include a summary or TL:DR at the top for parties who simply need an overview?
What happens if you still have more to say? Consider creating a document, and adding that as an attachment. You can also use tools to help you make your writing more clear and concise like: Grammarly, TrustMyPaper, WhiteSmoke, GrabMyEssay, or Hemingway.
List out tasks, expectations, and deadlines
Fuzzy communication is always a risk with emails. That’s why it’s very important to be very clear about expectations and deadlines. Otherwise, requests can read quite a bit like suggestions or ideas…and nothing gets done. The easiest way to make sure you’re clear is with a simple numbered list. Include what you want people to do along with the date when you expect things done (or imply that you need feedback on what a target due date should be). Lists make your emails easy to understand and reply.
Use standard formatting
Standard fonts, such as Times New Roman or Arial, as well as standard colors and sizes are appropriate for business emails. If you use bold or italics, never use them on more than one word or a string of words in a single email.
If you’re copying and pasting text, make sure you clear the formatting before sending the email, as it could appear different than the rest of your text. To clear formatting, you can use “Command + \” on a Mac or “Ctrl + Shift + N” on a PC.
Use a professional email address
Proper email etiquette calls for sending emails from your business email address, rather than a personal email address. Using a personal email address for business purposes can be seen as unprofessional by some, especially if you’re discussing confidential matters. Also, by keeping your business and personal email separate, you are ensuring that nothing urgent gets lost amid spam emails, marketing messages, and other personal communications.
Steer clear of needless “reply-all”
This is an easy one. Replying all inspires all sorts of horror stories in the workplace. Unless there is something you need every recipient to read or do, avoid using the reply-all button. Instead, break the email off into a separate conversation, or reply only to the sender.
It seems as if every website you visit asks you for your email address. We’ve all subscribed to email lists that don’t interest us just to get something we’ve needed. Then, we’re stuck receiving email after email that we don’t want and don’t need. Or, maybe you were interested once, but now find yourself simply swiping those emails away.
Stop wasting your time on these every time you get a notification. Instead, spend about 15 minutes each week going through your emails and hitting “unsubscribe.” You’ll simplify your list, make it easier to see what’s important to read in your inbox, and will lift a weight off your chest when you don’t have a glaring “100 unread emails” notification staring up at you. There are even tools to help you stay on top of email subscriptions, like Unroll.me, Boomerang, and more.
Use folders, labels, and tags
The ways you can organize your inbox are endless, but don’t let that thought paralyze you. You can read these 4 unique ways to organize inbox folders:
- Time-based method: Create folders for specific times like Urgent, Today, Tomorrow, This Week, and This Month, and organize messages into each one as they come in.
- Message-to-tasks method: Gmail has a “tasks” feature — this method means assigning messages to specific tasks as they come in so they’re all attached to a larger project.
- Rules method: Set an automated rule to direct messages from certain recipients (like clients) into their own folder
- Waiting folder method: Create a folder called Waiting and move messages that don’t belong in your task management system or don’t need an immediate response here. Then go back and handle them in batches.
Use professional greetings
Choose a salutation that is appropriate for the relationship you have with the recipient. If you are sending an email to a coworker, a casual greeting such as “Hello” may be appropriate. If you’re contacting someone for the first time or if they are a professional acquaintance, use a more formal greeting like “Dear Sarah Atkins.” It’s recommended to use the person’s name exactly as it’s shown in their email signature line. In other words, don’t assume that Jennifer goes by Jen unless you’ve seen them sign their emails that way.
(Mostly) avoid “reply all”
It’s usually a good idea to forego the temptation to hit the “reply all” option when sending professional emails.
Proper email etiquette aside, it can be quite annoying for people to be included in a group email if the content of the message has nothing to do with them. So be considerate and only hit “reply all” if the message would be of interest to all of the recipients.
Another way to avoid spamming people with unwanted emails? Utilize the polite alternative of moving to BCC. This means that if someone were to “reply all” to a message with both CC’ed and BCC’ed parties, only the CC’ed parties would receive the reply. By moving someone to BCC, you are keeping the conversation going without that person — sparing them emails they don’t need to read. Just make sure you inform them that you will be BCC’ing them beforehand; you don’t want to kick someone off the email thread without being transparent.
Email is a communication method that has become the lifeblood of everyday communication at the office, for business and for personal use. However, it is important that these emails be handled professionally at all times. This requires a certain amount of etiquette to ensure that these communications are both professional and productive.