Email Etiquette. Why do you need it?

When you reply an email, especially when you run a business it is necessary to keep in mind several rules of email etiquette.

Generally in the age of innovations Internet communication became a common thing among people. Moreover if you are a big developing company you should realize how important email communication with your partners and customers is.

Some companies send email replies too late or don’t send them at all. Be a reliable company, make your clients and partners trust you.

  • The three reasons to observe email etiquette

Professional image: If you use a proper business language while composing emails your company will look a professional one.

Efficiency: Speaking up to the point will be much more effective than composing a multi and poorly worded email.

Protection from unnecessary liability: When your employees are aware of email risks you will not have to get in law troubles and pay extra money for law suits.

There can be found a lot of etiquette guides with different etiquette rules. Some rules will differ according the nature of your business. We chose the most significant points that are applied by most of the companies.


1. Be brief and speak to the merits.

Think about the size of your e-letter. It shouldn’t be too long. Don’t forget that to read an email is harder than to read a printed massage. Also a long email can be tedious to read. Serious people appreciate their time.

2. Answer earlier asked questions and try to foresee the following ones.

When you send a reply message be attentive. After the asked questions you can receive the next ones. As a professional you should foresee this situation. A full, up to the point reply in original message will probably help you to exclude further questions. You will not waste your time and thus you will avoid frustration. If you pre-empt the further questions of your customer he will be pleasantly surprised with your efficient and mindful customer service. For example your customer asks you a frequent question: “What type of payment does your company accept?” Besides telling him about Credit Card, Wire Transfer and PayPal inform your client about the order procedure and provide with the link on your order page. Be sure your customer will appreciate it.

3. Remember about proper grammar, spelling and punctuation.

These moments are very important. Improper spelling, grammar and punctuation can make a bad image of your company. E-mails without appropriate full stops, commas are rather difficult to read and sometimes the message can lose its meaning. That is why always use spell checking.

4. Make your email a personal one.

Compose personally-addressed emails. Moreover the email you send should include personal information (for example customized content). This variant is better than one when you use a template. However below you can see how to make your template an effective one.

5. Have a template for frequently used responses.

Basically there are some questions that you get more frequently. These can be questions concerning the subscription, information about your office location, etc. In this case it is better to make a template that can be saved in Word doc. Use Reply Mate for Outlook. This tool offers you free 10 templates.

6. Answer a.s.a.p.

Customers usually send emails because they want a swift response. In other case they would rather send fax or write a letter to your company. That is why you should manage to answer within 24 hours and more likely within one working day. If you can’t make feed-back within these limits let your customer know that you have received the message and you will answer a.s.a.p.  Usually customers are rather patient.

7. Don’t send unnecessary attachments

Don’t annoy your customers with huge attachments. It can hand down their email box. Send attachments only when they are necessary and productive. Don’t forget to scan these attachments for viruses. Your client won’t be happy if receives documents full of malwares.

8. The layout and proper structure should be a must-have

Reading an electronic letter should be a pleasant thing.  It means that the structure and lay out should be proper. Make your paragraphs brief and between each paragraph put a blank line. Separate the points or mark them.

9. Option High priority shouldn’t be overused

You should use high priority option just when you really need it. If you always send emails with high priority status sometimes your truly important message can be interpreted as an aggressive one.

10. Don’t “shout” with CAPITALS.

We suppose you don’t want to make your customers become irritated. An email in capital letters might cause an unpleasant reply. That is why don’t send your emails in capitals.

11. Don’t break your message chain

Always use original message when replying an email. It means that you don’t need to choose “New mail”, just click “Reply”. It is very important if you receive a lot of emails. The “Reply” function will help you not to forget the previous information.

12. Try to use disclaimers to protect yourself

Use disclaimers for your external and internal emails. Imagine that your employee sends an email to your customer with a virus inside. The client will probably decide to sue your company for that. Put the disclaimer at the bottom of every message telling that the recipient has to check every email for viruses before opening it and that you are not liable for transmission of viruses. It will definitely help you in court. Your company should obey the email policy also within the office. It will exclude misunderstanding.

13. Pay attention on what you’re writing

It is a very common mistake when people send their letters without reading them before. Very often emails have a lot of grammar and spelling mistakes. Try to read your message through the eyes of person who will be reading it by himself. It will help to evade inappropriate comments.

14. Avoid using Reply to All option.

Use this variant of reply when it is really needed. Do it if you need your email to be seen by everyone whom you send the original letter.

15. While doing mailings use mail merge or BCC: field

When a person sends email to another person he/she usually puts the address in the To: field. After that there appear two obstacles. The first one is when your customer sees that you’ve sent the same message to a huge number of other recipients. The second bad thing you do is publication of personal email addresses without permission. The only way to mass mail is using BCC: field. In this case your recipient will see just his email address in To: field.

16. Don’t overuse abbreviations and emoticons

Try to exclude informal abbreviations in business letters. These can be LOL (Laugh out Loud), IMHO (In My Humble Opinion), BTW (By the way) and others. Also try not to use emoticons, such as different smiles, etc. It can puzzle your customer especially when he doesn’t know the meaning of it.

17. Choose the right formatting.

Keep in mind that when you format your emails the recipient may not be able to view the formatting something different than you had intended to show. Whether you decide to use a colour for your backgrounds choose the one that will be pleasant to read at.

18. Be careful when use HTML messages and rich text.

Note that instead of email in HTML format or instead of a rich text your recipient may receive a plain text email. Your message will look as a .txt attachment. However most of the mail clients are able to receive rich text and HTML messages. One of these clients is Microsoft Outlook.

19. Forget about forwarding chain letters.

You are a serious guy to believe in these things. So please don’t make forward when you receive such kind of letters. Remove them as soon as you’ve received it.

20. Don’t request for read and delivery receipts.

Usually these things annoy your customers. He considers it unfair to confirm the message delivery before he has read your message. Moreover this function doesn’t always work; some mail servers don’t support this option. If necessary you can ask your recipient to inform you if your letter was received.

21. Don’t share confidential information via email.

You should understand that the information sent by email might be shared within other people. That is why don’t put any sexist, libelous or racially discriminating messages in emails. Realize that you can break the law even if your statements are nothing but jokes.

22. Make your subject meaningful.

Try to understand what your customer needs, what he is interested in. And when he asks you information about the product it means that you should mention the name of the product before explaining all its features instead of just say “Product Information” or the name of the company in the subject.

23. Do not overuse IMPORTANT and URGENT.

Try to avoid these words in your emails and subject field. It annoys the same way as high priority status.  Write these words if only your message is really important or urgent.

24. Long sentences are not needed anymore.

The maximum limit for your sentence should be 15-20 words. Remember that email is used as a quick letter and differs from writing a simple letter. Moreover take care of your email size. It shouldn’t be too long. Your customers are interested in short and up to the point answers. So do your email pleasant to read.

25. Avoid replying to spam.

When you unsubscribe or answer spam messages you confirm that your email is “live”. It will generate to more spam in future. All you need to do is to delete spam messages by yourself or configure your email system to do it automatically.

How to introduce email etiquette in your company?

You should compose a written email policy. It should include all the points of what should be done and what mustn’t be done. Distribute these paper sheets amongst your employees. People who work in your company have to understand all the points of email etiquette. After that you can monitor the implementations of the rules with the help of email response tools and email management software.





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