Ah, email. Research has shown you probably spend 28 percent of your office life in your Inbox, so it’s a pretty big part of the work day. But are you using email correctly?
Let’s break down each part of the email correspondence workflow — from the address line to your signature — and outline some must-haves and common mistakes that will help your professionalism shine through.
Seems kind of obvious, but you would be surprised how many people get “cc” happy and put too many people on an email. With your team, and today’s workforce, digging through hundreds of emails a day, it will serve your water cooler reputation to be selective when it comes to sending emails.
So, in the “To” section, be sure these are the people you expect/need a response from. When they respond, they may “Reply All,” so consider this before putting a dozen or so people in that section. The “cc” section is for people who may need a carbon copy of this email, but who do not need to respond to the information therein.
Again, it’s good to be economical and considerate (does everyone need to be informed you’re taking your cat, Mr. Whiskers, to the vet at noon?) And in the “From” section, make sure you’re using your business email address, or at the very least something professional with your name in it, not “babygrl700”.
The subject line is your foot through the door, your “hook,” so make sure it is short and to the point. You want your addressees to read the subject line, know what to expect in the content of the email from the subject, and open the email.
Forgetting to include a subject line, or using an irrelevant or lengthy header, will only distract from your mission to convey information. For example: “11am Meeting Update” is concise and to the point, while trying to squeeze too much information in will only lead to confusion.
For example, “There’s a new meeting room where we’ll be having our 11 am meeting,” Is too long for a subject line and will only be cut off. An email study containing marketing pitches found that the sweet spot to improve email open rates is a subject line with six to 10 words.
It’s fun to play with fonts and backgrounds — when creating your own stationary. But in emails, it’s more professional to leave out the frills. Just like when it comes to reviewing a resume, job candidates that opt for fancy instead of functional rarely get their message to the top of the pile.
The right information is the important thing, so be sure to use a sans serif font (no scripts or loopy type), 10 to 12 point fonts (bigger and you’re shouting, smaller and it becomes difficult to read), and no colored background or copy.
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