In 2019, digital communications are the most widely used outlet to interact with your employees, customers and colleagues. With so much that can be said between the lines, it’s important to make sure that you’re formatting your thoughts in a way that are concise and professional.
Email Communications are King
Of all the digital mediums, email communications are the most widely used for business to business communications. This is for many reasons; it’s free (or relatively cheap) to create an email address, it’s easy to use and widely accepted by other businesses, plus it keeps a digital log of your communications. Having a history of conversations will be beneficial should you need to follow up, refer to a past discussion or compile a list of to-dos.
For this reason, it’s very important to understand the business basics for using email communication both within your organization and outside of your organization. Here is a quick list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to drafting a business email.
Formatting Your Emails
Some basics that should be covered when setting up your business email. Use a font, size and color that are easy to read. Avoid scrolling script fonts, light colors and too small (or large) of a font for drafting emails. It’s best to keep this clean and crisp, choose a basic font like Calibri, Times New Roman or Arial (or something similar) and keep the color a simple black or navy with the font size being no less than 11 and no more than 14.
Why? Choosing a fun font in an exciting color might feel like you’re setting yourself apart, but, it’s at best difficult to read and at worst could come off as unprofessional.
Secondly, make sure you’re adding a signature to automatically populate your new emails and replies. What must be included is your name, job title, phone number, business name and business website. Furthermore, you could add the business address, your email address, links to social media or a link to a third-party review website.
Drafting Your Emails
Like we mentioned above, being concise is important to avoid misinterpretation of your email. Using the tips below will help make sure that your emails are clear and professional to avoid continuous back and forth.
First, make sure that the subject line of the email is clear and obvious. This will help both you and the recipient understand the purpose for the message and assist with being able to search for the email later.
Second, use a professional greeting; such as, “Hello” “Hi” “Dear” or “Greetings”. Using slang terms are not recommended for any business email communications but are particularly frowned upon for emails that are going outside of your organization.
Third, separate subject matter by using spacing so that the content is easier to read and not just one long paragraph that can be overwhelming for the reader. Email communications should be direct and to the point to avoid misinterpretation. Furthermore, if you’re referring to a document or email in the current email, you should be attaching said document or email to allow for more clarity. Don’t assume the recipient can read your mind, put as much information in the content that is relevant to the conversation.
Fourth, verify if you are asking the recipient for something at the end of the email. Sometimes it can be unclear in a long email what the recipient needs to do, so pulling that out at the end can help make sure they get the message. For example, adding a simple “I look forward to receiving that document by 6/30/19 end of day” will signal to the person reading that they need to complete a task.
Finally, proofread! Drafting an email might feel like it takes long enough, but doing a quick run through to check for spelling and grammar errors as well as to verify that you’ve included all the information necessary will save you from follow up emails making corrections or sending off incorrect information.
Avoid these Common Email Mistakes
Finally, here are some things that you should be avoiding when drafting your email communications.
Creating a clear email means editing out the information that is either confusing or unnecessary. If it’s not pertinent to the subject matter, leave it out or send in a separate email.
When in doubt, leave out humor in a professional email or at the very least, only use this when communicating with someone you’re familiar with. Humor can be misconstrued as sarcasm or offensively when taken via email. Furthermore, avoid sending an email as a flippant response when angry or rushed. Put thought into what you’re sending, or you will just end up going back and clarifying what you originally meant.
Don’t overuse all caps and exclamation points. Punctuation and all capital words serve a purpose, but that purpose is diminished when it’s used too often. Use your best judgment to emphasize your points when necessary by using these tools.
Finally, if you’re drafting an email and are concerned that there will be confusion, call for a quick meeting or simply pick up the phone and call the recipient to talk through the subject matter. This will ensure that both parties are in full understanding. For tracking purposes, follow up the call with a brief summary of the call, supporting information, and a run-down of next steps if they are required.
Additional Ways to Optimize Your Emails
Don’t forget that email is a tool! Used correctly you can run your business from your fingertips, literally. There are some quick and easy email strategies that will ensure you’re using your inbox to its full potential.
First, create folders for frequent contacts or even projects to keep your emails organized and easily accessible for the future. Second, you can organize by date and conversation to make sure that all your emails are responded to in a timely manner. Third, use the calendar and tasks to set reminders for yourself right from your inbox.
Email is a very valuable tool for business owners for a variety of reasons. Creating a habit of efficient email strategies will save you time and help move your business forward.