5 Tips for Business Email

Like many of you, I live on email and conduct the bulk of my business correspondence via email. And like many of you, I’m sure, I feel oddly disconnected if I’m away from desktop or BlackBerry for extended periods of time. It becomes this big “thing” in my head if I’m going to be offline. I feel like I’m losing a race, missing out…guilty even. God help me.

But with so many people depending heavily on email to make the world a better place, then how come folks are still doing it so inefficiently? It boggles my mind. It’s 2008 and there’s still a need for email etiquette tips. Who knew? Well, here’s a brief re-cap:

5 Things You Should Know By Now When Emailing for Business
1. ALL CAPS = NOT COOL! “Caps” is a formatting technique used for emphasis, not for communicating in regular tone. When you email someone in ALL CAPS it is tantamount to yelling. PLEASE STOP YELLING AT US!

2. If you’re hip enough to know what “EOM” means then you gotta be smart enough to avoid looooong subject headings that require us to open the email anyway, right? One would think? If I have to open your EOM-labled email because your subject heading is long, then what’s the point, knucklehead?

3. Refresh your subject headings as often as you can. If – during the course of those lengthy email conversations with colleagues that include a reply from everybody – we have to sort through a hundred messages that all have the same subject heading (i.e., “About Tomorrow’s Meeting”), then you’re making our brains work harder. Flip it up a little, change the subject heading, but keep it logical. It will help your reader track the email thread better. Maybe your heading can address a new point in the conversation, as in “I Agree: Let’s Change to 6pm.”

4. Subject headings are best if short. And if you’re in the email marketing business and your subject headings are longer than 40 characters or so, then you’re losing your audience. No need to say everything in the heading. Instead, create a heading that compels the reader to take action or be excited about what you have to tell them. I’ve learned this the hard way and some of my clients still don’t abide by this “best practice.” But where you can, keep it short. Long headings come off as amateurish.

5. Sorry, some may disagree, but if you are conducting business – even over email – then include a contact number as a back up. Business is business and if I need to connect with you about something that I don’t want transmitted over the Internet, then make it easy for me to reach you. A telephone number says that you are prepared for possibilities…even the unthinkable: that email may not be the appropriate means of of communication for every single exchange (human interaction is still an option, you know). And let’s keep it real, maybe I don’t want to talk to you either, but in case I have to…