A common complaint I hear from clients is about how bad ‘other people’ are at email etiquette. So, we’ve assembled a few do’s and don’ts of writing clear, productive and helpful emails.
Think Productive’s UK office did an informal survey to find out all of our biggest email pet peeves and boy, did they get an earful! Below are some of their top inbox annoyances. (Feel free to add yours in the comments section!)
1. Misuse of Subject Line
Use the subject line like the headline in a newspaper. Don’t always leave as “Re: ABC” if the topic has actually moved on” Rob Geraghty
When you write an email, be smart with the subject line – give the recipient a heads-up of what the email contains and what is expected from them. ie Meeting Agenda for Monday – (please read and distribute). Read our blog post on Email Subject lines for more details on this topic.
2. Unnecessary CC’ing
Do you really need to include all those people in your email CC (carbon-copy) list? Make it clear why each person is included in the email: what do you need them to do? Are you addressing them directly (use ‘to’) or are you just keeping them in the loop? (cc)
3. Text Speak or Abbreviations
Save the text speak for the text message (and the teenagers). Really, we’re not restricted by character limits any more so write properly, and avoid abbreviations if possible. Do you really want the recipient to email back asking you to clarify what your trying to say?
4. Include Your Contact Details, Please!
Its ever so annoying to get an email from someone who says “give me a call”….and there is no phone number listed! Use your electronic signature to its fullest – include phone, website, email, and social media links where appropriate.
5. Emails from Addresses that are not Monitored (No Reply)
A lot of corporations use this approach for email marketing: sending messages from accounts that aren’t monitored. If you need to get back to them, what do you do? If you do use a no-reply email address, add a monitored email address at the bottom so customers can reply if they need to.
6. Marking the Email as Urgent when it’s not
We suggest marking emails as urgent if they are, but don’t become the boy that cried wolf. Marking every email as important will make you look self-important, and all your messages will be immediately disregarded as “non-important”. Use this tactic wisely!
7. Not Starting the Email with a Proper Greeting (‘Dear…’)
This is an interesting one. How do you address someone in an email? Some people consider it as formal as a letter, whilst others treat it as a form of quick messaging.
We suggest being appropriate to the person you are addressing – start with letter-style formality, and ease off as the conversation progresses.
Also be sure to get the name of the person right, especially if they’ve already messaged you! Don’t take any chances by abbreviating longer names (IE: Jen for Jennifer or Mike for Michael). For some people, there is nothing more annoying!
8. Forwarding Sensitive Data
Be careful when forwarding emails to other people. Is it ok for them to see the information enclosed in any attachments? Remember, when you forward an email, often the entire conversation is forwarded – make sure there’s nothing explosive or confidential in there!
9. Emailing and then Calling to Confirm I got your Message
A bit of a time waster, but think about why they are calling you. Are you perhaps a bit slow at replying?
If you’re the one emailing then calling, consider using the read-receipt function on your email – you will be sent a notification when the recipient opens the email. Better email etiquette and a boost to everyones productivity!
10. Over to You … Tell us your Pet Peeves in the Comments Below!
Left Wanting More?
Sign up for one of our Email Etiquette Workshops
Write the perfect Email Subject Line – Think Productive