It is often tempting to fire off a quick email response when you’re swamped with other tasks. But remember that the permanence of email means any slips in etiquette can have a lasting impact.
You should put as much thought into an email as you would put into a formal letter.
Here are three tips to ensure your emails follow proper etiquette:
1. Include an auto-signature
It’s important to attach your contact details whenever emailing colleagues, clients or prospects, says Richard Heft, executive director of Ext. Marketing Inc. in Toronto. Adding an auto-signature requires little effort and ensures your contacts always have your information.
Clients may be prompted to call you after receiving your information, and you don’t want to make them have to rummage through papers to find your phone number.
2. Copy others only when necessary
Some email discussions involve a group and require you to copy members of your team. But don’t overuse the “cc” (carbon copy) function in your email. Only include contacts in that field when you know they will have input on the subject, says Andrew Broadhead, manager of communications at Ext. Marketing.
Otherwise, you risk filling other people’s inboxes with information they don’t need.
The same applies for the “reply all” button. When you are on the receiving end of a group email, you can often get away with replying only to the sender.
When sending an email to a group of external recipients (such as clients, as opposed to team members), use the “bcc” (blind carbon copy) option, Heft says. That option prevents those who receive your email from seeing the names and email addresses of other recipients. If you just use the “cc,” you are sharing your contacts’ details without their permission.
3. Make emails as clear as possible
“You not only want your emails short and sweet, you want to keep them incredibly clear as well,” Broadhead says. “If your email has a point that you’re trying to make, say it in the first sentence.”
For example, if you’re sending out an email to inform clients that tax-free savings account deposit limits have doubled, put that at the beginning of the first sentence, Heft adds. Even if clients don’t read through the rest of the message, they’ll remember why you contacted them, and may get back to you at a later date.