Enough SPAM gets through today’s sophisticated email systems that one would think that people would be content to merely discard email all together. Instant messaging, texting and other technologies have certainly taken a toll on the once hot way to market. More importantly, people are flat out sick of being SPAMMED, sold to or otherwise interrupted by garbage messages. The business use of email has subsequently been in the center of the firestorm created by this technology, but still relies heavily on it to “move the ball forward.” There are several things to consider when composing an email, beyond spelling and sentence structure.
- Subject Line Clarity
- Body (Overall Length)
- Closing and Contact Information
Subject Line - When composing an email, it is wise to not only state the subject, but also to let the recipient know from whom it is being sent. For example, an email may show a subject line such as “Update Information from … Henry Aaron.” You will stand a much better chance of making it through the SPAM filters by keeping your subject line clear and relevant to the email.
Greeting – Formality is critical in business correspondence, especially if it is someone that you have never met and with whom you have no relationship. When addressing someone, use Mr. or Ms., unless you are certain they are a doctor, Mrs. or otherwise. If their name is Martin or Stephen, don’t use the informality of Marty or Steve, much in the way you would not use Abbie or Gail if her name was Abigail. On the other hand, If you are on an informal or first name basis, you may seem peculiar if you were too formal. Sound judgment trumps common sense.
Body or Length – Business people are busy, and time is usually of the essence. Brevity is expected, so do not create a manuscript out of your message. In addition to proper spelling and sentence structure, never write in all capital letters. This is not only harder to read, it is considered shouting, and therefore considered obnoxious and rude.
Closing – As in the greeting, formality is highly recommended. Slang, statements in poor taste and jokes should not be used in business communications, let alone written correspondence. Typically the closing salutation is Sincerely, but other phrases such as Respectfully, Kind regards, Best regards or Thank you (remember, only the first word is capitalized) are also acceptable. Beneath your full name, supply your contact information for the convenience of the recipient. Items such as your company name and email address, your company web site, phone number, etc. Most email systems, including corporate email programs have a feature built in for you to include a signature block of information embedded into each email you send. Check with your IT department if necessary.
These are not the only rules to business correspondence utilizing email, but with these foundational aspects, you will be well on your way to being a better correspondent.
What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to email etiquette?