We use it more than the telephone, we’re more addicted to it than Twitter, and it can be more frustrating than autoplay music on a website. Email truly is one of the most revolutionary forms of communication in history, but it seems like we’re still pinning down the etiquette of this correspondence medium.
Emails often fall victim to a strange problem – we write them so fast in the name of efficiency that we don’t get our point across. This necessitates another explanatory email, and the motive of efficiency is negated.
Allow us to propose a new email philosophy: it might, in fact, be more efficient to take more time with our emails (at least a little more) to ensure that we really communicating. Here are six guidelines that will help you get the most out of your emails without sacrificing too much time.
Lead with the actionable item.
Email users often just read the subject line of an email before they decide how to file it, so if you bury your call to action in the very last sentence, it may not get addressed right away.
When in doubt, use proper grammar.
Punctuation and capitalization do make sentences easier to read and comprehend, but you don’t need to be a grammar Nazi. If you choose not to adhere to the strict rules of the English language, make sure your words and abbreviations are completely comprehendible to your reader. If there’s any question, go ahead and write it out properly. Miscommunication is less efficient than taking the extra time to type acronyms out and add commas.
Use “Reply All” sparingly.
Ever been annoyed that you got attached to an email thread that everyone is unnecessarily Replying All to? Don’t be guilty of doing the same. Consider if everyone needs to be CC’d on your reply before you press send.
Never ever ever send an email with (no subject).
Your email’s subject is like a newspaper headline – it’s your key to making your recipient think this is important or even worth reading. A (no subject) email is basically the same as saying “this doesn’t matter.”
Don’t go overboard with your signature.
We’ve got a whole post about this! Email signatures are really fantastic for getting your contact information out there, but refrain from loading it up with 2 images, 3 phone numbers, and 8 social media buttons. It makes your emails heavy (data-wise), and the chances are slim that your signature will look clean in all email clients.
But do include a signature!
Your email signature should be much like your business card – brief and relevant. Really pare it down, and consider the avenues through which you want people to contact you. Try to limit your email signature to three ways of contact (i.e. phone, email, and Facebook).
The most important component of your email is your message, so our overall point is to make sure that your primary message is front and center in your email.