May 22, 2014

Important Learnings from Email Etiquette Training

Email Etiquette Training
Do you think email etiquette training is not required, if you have been sending and receiving emails, without any negative feedback? Even I had similar opinions until yesterday.

I accidentally entered an email etiquette training session, unaware of change in schedule of marketing collateral session. As I used to think of myself as an emailing pro, I thought to exit at the introductory slide, but then I realized that room was full and leaving the room would look offensive to the narrator, so I stayed and I really thank myself for this.



First of all let me share the feeling, when the session was over. I think we all should attend email etiquette training at least once in our professional lifetime, weather a beginner or a CEO. Everyone is prone to mistakes and we don’t realize it unless someone else tells us about that. Especially in case of email, for which, we hardly receive any feedback from the receiver.

Now about the training session – it started with a simple activity; all attendees were given a pen and paper to draft a mail to company HR person, referring a friend for available job opportunity. Everyone wrote that letter and it was to be checked at the end of the session.

Following are the main characteristics of an email, either sent for a personal communication or under mass email marketing efforts:

1. Sender Name


It is the first thing people see when they receive an email, so don’t mess with it and keep it real. If you know the addressee personally, then use your real name and if you are using email for marketing, then use your company name. People like to open emails coming from known sources.


2. Subject


It is the second thing read by user to understand what the email is about. Try to include important information within first 4 words of the subject, because lengthy subject lines get truncated in small devices.

It should be simple, short and clear and written in Title Case. Use of all small letters can keep your email un-noticed and use of all CAPS may look like shouting and can lead it towards junk folder.

Never try to trick addressee by building suspense in subject line, strictly if you are marketing something, because it can work only once or twice. You may lose communication opportunities forever. Don’t even think about sending email without a subject line to build suspense, as it will skip the inbox and land in spam folder.

Avoid terms that are classified as spam by email service providers, such as exclamation (!) mark in subject line is taken as spam message by almost all the email services. Some other words are free, sale, buy, offer etc.


3. To, CC & BCC


Add those contacts in “To” section from which you are expecting an answer, action or response. In “CC” section, add those contacts, which should be informed of the matter and no direct action or response is required from their side.

“BCC” section should be used only when you don’t want the addressees to know about each other. It is mostly used when any sensitive information is expected from a bunch of people and sender wants to avoid any chances of getting “reply to all”.


4. Salutation


The top line of the email body, which starts with simple hi, hello, dear or hey, followed by the addressee’s first name, full name, nick name or last name, howsoever your company or country culture permits. Just keep few things in mind:
  • You are not using any abusive or fun name.
  • You know the correct spelling of the name.
  • You are writing it in “Title Case”.
  • If you are not sure about the name then use Sir/Madam, that too if you are sure about the gender or else just write Hi, or Hello,.


5. Greeting or Open Line


If it’s your first formal email to the receiver then you should use lines like “Hope you are doing well” or “Trust this mail finds you in best spirits” or anything else that makes the reader comfortable to read it further.

Open lines make the email look human and that is why many companies try to come up with creative open lines in their newsletters or marketing messages, to get reader attention and reduce opt-out rates.


6. Content


The main part of your email is the message you want to convey. It is a combination of good words, emotions, correct spelling / grammar and clarity. Killing any of it would result in misinterpretation of the message and loss of credibility.

Keep following points in mind while writing the email content:
  • Try to conclude every paragraph within 2-3 sentences to increase the clarity.
  • Use jargon or complicated terms only when you are sure that addressee will understand it.
  • Include important information within first paragraph, as attention span declines after that point.
  • Check spellings and grammar very carefully. You can never estimate the cost & impact of a mistake.
  • Keep the tone of your email polite, unless strictness is very much required.
  • Keep it close to the subject line and don’t try to stuff single mail with diverse information. You can send three mails for three different topics.
  • Write the content in “Sentence case”, unless you are using abbreviations or quotes.
  • Emails are not private, they are scanned by judicial authorities for any kind of sensitive activities, so please be careful about what you are sharing. Emails can be retrieved, examined and used in a court of law.

7. Closing


Sign-off line is a good way to end your email. In this part of email you can write about the actions expected by the receiver. Go ahead and draft some creative call-to-action lines, in order to get maximum response for your marketing message.


8. Signature:


This is where your email ends and the receiver can know more about the sender. It starts with "Thanks",  "Regards" or "Thanks & Regards" followed by "name", "designation", "company name" and "optional contact details". Email signature is a kind of personality tag, so use it carefully, except if it is a communication between friends. Go by your company’s format of email signature, while interacting with colleagues, clients or sending mass email for marketing.


9. Email Reply


You can ignore few email etiquette points while replying to an email, such as, subject line, open line and close line and jump to the actions expected by the sender.

Conclusion


That was everything the session was about. At the end, presenter asked us to check emails we drafted at the beginning of the session and check if everything is written according to the email etiquette training. In my draft, I missed the open line and directly wrote about my friends qualifications in reference to the job opportunity. I checked my previously sent emails as well and found some of them had one or the other elements missing. It made me realize that sometimes we ignore few important things, even after lots of practice.

Please share your views in comments section.


For Further Reading:


9 Simple Ways to Build Quality Email Lists for Marketing

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image : stuart miles/freedigitalphotos.net

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