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Business Email Etiquette Rules to Keep in Mind

2016-11-22 18:05:57

Email is so integral to our lives in the 21st century whether it’s checking and sending out messages for work or keeping tabs on the latest announcements or deals. In the workforce especially, email is critical to the day-to-day and is often the most viable way to reach out to colleagues, future employers, and clients. 

There’s no way around it. You’re going to have to learn how to use email and how to use it well. Contrary to popular belief, there are rules to writing emails for business. While some may not think so, this etiquette matters, and it can be highly beneficial to familiarize yourself with some general guidelines. Below, we've provided some business etiquette rules for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and anyone else who is curious.

The Basics

According to Inc., when sending a business email, it is important to keep your subject line concise and to the point so that the recipient already knows what the email is about. It's also important to keep your salutations professional and have a signature at the bottom of your email template that shares basic information such as your name, position, and any relevant contact information. Doing this makes it easy for your recipients to instantly pinpoint who the message is from, what it's about, and how to communicate with the sender, thus avoiding confusion.

High standards in grammar, punctuation, and spelling are imperative for business emails since you want your message and your professional qualities to shine through. Nothing undermines that like poor grammar and misspelled words. Also, proofread, proofread, proofread. You want to avoid sending professional emails with typos. To avoid accidentally clicking send before you meant to, make sure to input your recipient's email last, if possible.

A Fair Warning

Try and keep away from humor and stay away from overusing exclamations as both can often come off as inappropriate and immature for business purposes. In general, make sure that your tone applies to what you are trying to say. Be aware of your audience or even the cultural background of your email recipients so that you can tailor your message to them. People speak and write differently, so things are more likely to get lost in translation. Always be respectful, no matter to who you are sending the email.

Furthermore, before you go and hit “reply all” consider whether or not the email you are sending is actually of vital importance to all of the recipients in the email chain. If it is, then, by all means, send it to everyone, but if it’s not then definitely refrain from clicking "reply all." It saves everybody a lot of time scrolling through emails that don’t pertain to them. They’ll thank you later.

Some Helpful Specifics about Newsletters

According to Entrepreneur, it is best to send out a company newsletter once a week. That may seem quite standard, but there are some good reasons for this. More than once a week and you're probably going to drown your recipients in emails. Any less and they will not be able to get information promptly.

Furthermore, sending out newsletters at this pace ensures that your content will hopefully be of a higher quality because you are doing it less often and thus can put more time into your updates. There’s no one-size-fits-all formula, but three company-wide updates a month is generally accepted to be a good number to aim for.

How Often to Follow-up with Someone

In business and entrepreneurial ventures, it’s also crucial to master the art of the follow-up, striking that perfect balance of courteous persistence without getting too pushy. According to The Muse, you should follow the basic rule of thumb and wait a week before sending a follow-up. Anything more frequent and it looks like you do not respect the other person's time, which does not send the best message or make the best impression.

But it goes both ways. You don’t want to be wasting your own time if it's not necessary to do so, so if you have sent several follow-ups with no response or not results, it’s alright to reach out and politely ask if you should stop following up. The worst that will happen is that they will say no. Best case scenario, they will appreciate your clarification and will let you know what your next steps should be.

Using Common Sense

Business email etiquette is about using common sense in ways that showcase you as professional and polite. If used well, email can be an excellent tool to utilize in all sorts of endeavors, especially in business.

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