For small businesses, the most valuable resource in your success arsenal is your contact list. Business growth, in the information age, where knowledge is no further away than a few strokes on a keyboard, demands an increase in personal contact. As our ability to get the information we want becomes easier, the need for businesses to convince customers that they are trustworthy, qualified, and a better choice than anyone else increases. Businesses must utilize marketing services and use social media and internet contact to create conversations that translate into profit.
Email is the number one form of communication for anyone fully invested in the 21st century, but there are rules for business email that every owner, manager, and employee need to know. Some of these rules apply to marketing emails, some apply to inter-business contact, but all are essential.
#1 Include a Subject Line
Subject lines seem to be optional in personal emails, but they are an absolute requirement for businesses. Not only a requirement, but an essential element for good marketing. Your subject line needs to capture your customers interest enough to give your message the time it takes to tell it.
#2 Professional Email Address
No matter how small your business is, it’s better to have a professional email address than a Gmail, Yahoo!, or Hotmail email address. Take the time to establish an email with your business name. It makes you look more professional.
#3 Professional Signature
Establish a signature block for your emails. Include your name, title, company name, and contact information. It’s also an opportunity to add a little publicity about yourself, but don’t overdo it.
#4 Professional Salutation
Avoid “yo”, “hey”, and generalizations of your customers in your email greetings. Keep your salutations to “Hi” or “Hello”, it’s comfortable, simple, and professional.
#5 Use “Reply All” Cautiously
No one likes getting notifications for every reply to an email that 40 different people received. Be cautious with that “reply all” button. Only use it when it’s absolutely necessary.
#6 Avoid Too Much Humor
Humor depends on too many physical elements; a look, a sound, or a situation. The attitude of the recipient has a great deal to do with how they interpret humor. It’s better, in business emails, to avoid too much humor and prevent misinterpretations and potential offenses.
#7 Respect Cultural Differences
Understanding the culture of your audience is essential for good communication. Miscommunication can happen when one cultural perception is different than another. Compose your emails in a way that is appropriate for your specific audience.
#8 Reply to Your Emails
Even if you were an unintended recipient, always reply to your emails, and always within 36 hours. It doesn’t need to be a long response, but it is essential to respond.
#9 Proofread Your Emails
You might not worry about a typo or two, but little things can be enough to diminish a customer’s view of your professionalism. Proofread your work, don’t overuse punctuation (exclamation points!!!, commas, ALL CAPS, and “quotation” marks), use spell check, and don’t count on your word processing software to do all the work for you.
#10 Use a Classic Font
Avoid fancy fonts. Besides being distracting from the message, they are difficult for some people to read. You don’t want to create any barrier to your marketing. So, avoid Comic Sans, Ringbearer, and French Script. Stick with Arial or Times New Roman.
#11 Watch Your Tone
It’s hard to read tone in an email. There are no features to read, no voice to determine emotion, so your words must do the job. Read your email out loud to determine how it sounds and adjust accordingly.
#12 Email is Forever
Hitting delete does not guarantee that your message is gone, make sure that anything you write is something you’re willing to last forever. Don’t write and send anything you’d rather not have read by others.
#13 Add Recipient Last
You don’t want to send half an email on accident. Don’t add your recipients email until you’ve written, proofread, and reread your email. When you do add their email, confirm that you’ve added the correct address.