February 4, 2016

Business Email Etiquette & Best Practices

Recently, the NY Times had a tech article saying email-based sites are dying as we move towards more informal, faster means of communication like texting and IMing.

Still, I know many of you are continuing to use email for the bulk of your daily business correspondences, and that’s why I’d like to talk about simple email etiquette and best practices.

Let’s start with some basics:

Email Subjects

I get so much email from people with a subject that doesn’t really describe the content of the email or worse: no subject at all. We’re all busy, and it’s extremely helpful when I’m scanning a long list of emails to be able to pick out the one I need. If you don’t want to write a good subject for me, do it for selfish reasons because a compelling subject line virtually ensures your email will be read.

Inappropriate Email Addresses

Another one of my pet peeves is receiving something from someone’s personal email address with a handle that’s inappropriate for business correspondence. That means “DrunkProgrammer666@gmail.com” didn’t get an interview when it was time for me to hire another engineer.

Email Signature As a Marketing Tool

With regard to your email signature, I think that many people overlook the fact that it can contain extremely helpful pieces of information and be used as an effective, low-cost marketing tool. Every time I send an email I get a chance to make what marketers call an “impression”, so I treat my email signature like a mini-website.

Here’s my current signature:
Conrad Strabone, Jr.
President
e9digital
“We build websites that build businesses”

Services: website design, website development, logos, branding, programming, database, CMS, eCommerce, flash

News: e9 Launches https://www.springdesignpartners.com and client says “Conrad really listened to what our needs were, and presented a proposal that was 100% spot-on. We found that e9 had the right mix of smart strategy and creative flexibility, plus Conrad made the tech very easy for us to understand. Regarding Jina, she is very talented, and easy to work with. We absolutely love the site she designed for us.”

325 W. 38th Street, #901 (between 8th & 9th Aves.)
New York, NY 10018
map: https://bit.ly/e9onmap
tel: 646-233-1068
fax: 646-395-1905
skype: xxxxxx_xxxxxxx
email: xxxxxx@e9digital.com
web: https://www.e9digital.com

(FYI: I blanked out my email and skype to protect against spam bots.)

If you look at my email signature, you’ll notice I have all of the standard stuff like my name, title and phone number, but I also include my tag line, a list of services that my company provides, and then some recent news with a nice client quote.

It’s important for me to have some global accessibility, so I also include my Skype handle.

I also provide our street address and note what avenues we’re between, and I even include a link to a map that shows our location as well.

Invariably, when people are in a cab going to visit someone, they’ll be trying to look up directions on their iphone. Because I include detailed information in my signature, my visitors need only look at the last email I sent them.

Another thing you should make sure to do is include your full email in your signature. You can’t rely on various email clients to include header information in replies and forwards.

With regard to your website and social profiles like facebook and twitter, make sure you include the full URLs including https:// because your reader’s email program might not render it properly.

Remember, you don’t know how your email is going to look to the person that’s receiving it, so I recommend keeping it simple with plain text. Avoid special colors, fonts, HTML and–even though I know my creative director has ignored me on this–I am not in favor of adding any graphics or logo images.

Some people like to have a shorter signature for their replies, but I use my full one. I don’t know where that email is going to end up and who’s going to see it in the end, so I want my full details along for the ride.

Finally, after you update your signature on your main email program, make sure you update your webmail and any mobile devices you might have, like your android or iPhone…or iPad!