As much as we may not like to, we are all spending time in one (or multiple) email inboxes everyday. Me? I’m in at least 2, sometimes up to 4 during the day, and dedicate 1-3 hours sending and responding to emails. That’s a lot of time, and a lot of emails. I love it and it's part of my job, but it's because I follow a couple of principles to make it that way!
I’ve learned that by following some simple email etiquette guidelines, I’m able to make my time in the inbox as positive, fast, and efficient as possible. And if everyone followed this rubric of etiquette, our collective email experience would be similar!
Format for readability
Have you ever received an email that is one HUGE paragraph? It’s difficult to make any sense out of it, and it's so time consuming and frustrating to read. Break up your email into logical paragraphs, bold your questions or main points, use bullet points or numbered lists, and keep your message as concise as possible.
Be super clear in your questions
When you ask a question, make sure the reader doesn’t have to guess what you’re thinking. Be direct! For example, instead of typing “I’m not sure what to do about getting more email signups,” write “What is your strategy for getting more email signups on your homepage?” A direct, well-worded question will always receive the best answer! Also, it’s most polite to send only about 3 clear questions that are easy to pick out from the email (bold those babies!).
Ask yourself how much backstory / explanation is really necessary
This goes along with being as concise as you can in your message. Don’t suddenly become super robotic in your message, but try to cut as much fluff as possible. Ask yourself, “is this needed to get my message across?” If not, cut it out!
Cut out the “Thank you!” only emails
It just adds to someone else’s inbox, so try to cut down on as many of these as possible. Sometimes it's just not needed!
There also also those situations when someone replies with a quick "Thank you!" and you don't always need to reply "You're welcome" every time. Feel it out and do what's best for you!
Always use an email signature with your name and pertinent info
Having an email signature should be your standard. It’s so much easier for the reader to see exactly who they are talking to! Include your website, a social media link or two, and pro tip: a call to action for your latest blog post, promo, or webinar!
Do your own research (DYOR)
Have you done everything you can before sending an email with a question of how to do something? If you have a question, it’s easy to think that just sending an email will take care of everything. Truth be told, the person answering is probably going to have to research it (Google is everyone’s friend, and most online platforms have a knowledge base, tutorial videos, or a forum to scour). Respect everyone’s time and make the effort to find your answers by researching them, and if you still can’t find it, send some clear questions!
Never be negative
Now, this doesn’t mean to not ever send a critical email, but remember that you are sending your email to a real person who has to read and handle your email. Be firm and direct as needed, but also keep your tone neutral, civil, and productive. Infusing your email with negativity is toxic and never necessary!