Email is a modern business communication medium in today’s fast-running digital world. How you utilize this tool can be the difference between a deal signed and an opportunity missed. Whether you’re an email enthusiast eager to refine your craft or a corporate marketer eager to make a lasting impression, mastering the art of business email etiquette is a must.
We have prepared a list of steps that are necessary for how to write a professional email; here are the steps that you can take to make your emails sound professional and confident:
Step 1: Understand Your Audience and Purpose
Writing a professional email starts long before you type out your first word. It’s about figuring out who you’re talking to and why. Clarity of audience and intent form are important parts of an effective email.
Who are you writing to?
Understand the person or people you are addressing your email to. Are they colleagues? Clients? Superiors? Each group demands a different tone and level of formality for the emails.
What’s the purpose of your email?
Identify the reason for your email. Is it to inform, request, or confirm? The purpose of your email dictates the structure and content of your email.
For example, if you’re emailing a client, your language should be respectful, and your tone should be enthusiastic. Meanwhile, emailing a fellow team member could be more casual yet still professional.
Step 2: Choose the Right Subject Line
The subject line is an invitation to your email’s success. That’s the first thing a receiver sees, and that’s typically all they need to determine whether to open it, throw it away, or keep it for later. An excellent subject line is straightforward, concise, and engaging.
Clarity is Key
Avoid vague subject lines like “Hi” or “Quick Question.” Instead, be specific. For instance, “Request for Marketing Proposal Review” tells the reader exactly what to expect.
Keep your subject line short and sweet. Often, the best subject lines are around 6-10 words long. They convey your message without unnecessary fluff.
Urgency and Relevance
If your email requires immediate attention, signal it in the subject line. “Action Required: Project Deadline Looming” is a powerful prompt that demands action.
Step 3: Greet Your Recipient Appropriately
Your greeting sets the tone for your email. The handshake, or in this digital age, the emoji-laden salutation, welcomes your reader. Use the correct salutation based on your relationship with the recipient.
Hi, Hello, or Dear?
The start of your email should be polite without being too formal. “Hi” and “Hello” work well for most professional settings. Only use “Dear” if you have a closer relationship with the recipient or are writing a cover letter.
Include the Appropriate Title
If your recipient is a professor or doctor or has a professional title, using it is a sign of respect. “Dear Dr. Smith” or “Hello Professor Johnson” adds a personal touch to your email.
Consider Cultural Nuances
If you’re writing to somebody unfamiliar, be mindful of cultural differences. In some countries, skipping a formal salutation could be seen as something that is not acceptable.
Step 4: Get to the Point Quickly
Professional courtesy is often mistaken for too many words. In reality, professionals are busy and appreciate the value of their time. The more quickly you convey your point, the more professional you look. Try to keep your message concise and to the point.
State Your Purpose in the Opening Lines
Your reader should know why you’re emailing them within the first two sentences. If you’re making a request, be direct. “I’m emailing to request your approval on the latest budget.”
Follow a Logical Flow
Once you’ve started your purpose, organize the rest of your email to support it. Use bullet points for lists, and break up long passages with white space to facilitate easier reading.
Limit Small Talk
While a brief sentence or two about the recipient’s day or a shared interest is a nice touch, excessive small talk can be seen as wasting time.
Step 5: Mind Your Tone and Language
The tone of your email can change from friendly to formal, and the language should match the professional setting. A professional tone is a balance between cordial and concise.
Avoid Slang and Jargon
In a professional email, clarity trumps all. Using jargon or industry-specific slang that the recipient needs help understanding can lead to confusion.
Adopt a Positive Tone
Although you should be professional, that doesn’t mean you can’t be warm or positive. A business email doesn’t have to be cold. Conveying enthusiasm for a project or gratitude for help can build relationships.
Be Polite and Respectful
Always remain polite and respectful in your correspondence. Words like “please” and “thank you” never go out of style.
Step 6: Proper Grammar and Spelling Matter
Your email reflects your attention to detail. A message filled with typos or grammatical errors can suggest sloppiness. Always proofread before hitting send.
Use Spell Check and Grammar Tools
Most email platforms have built-in spell check, but you can also use more robust grammar tools. These tools can catch errors your eye might gloss over.
Know the Difference Between To, Too, and Two
Homophones are tricky! Triple-check that you’re using the right ones. Errors such as “I am too busy” should be “I am too busy” or “I am two business days away from the deadline” and are easily caught.
Get Punctuation Right
Punctuation can drastically change the meaning. “Let’s eat, Grandpa!” is a sudden family dinner. “Let’s eat, Grandpa!” means something else entirely. Insist on the comma.
Step 7: Be Thoughtful with Attachments and Links
Share files and links judiciously. Always consider the need and relevance of attachments in your email. Remember, an inundated inbox is an annoyed inbox.
Use Descriptive File Names and Folders
When attaching files, ensure the names and contents are easily understood. If sending multiple files, consider zipping them to save space and organization.
When linking to external information, use a clear, descriptive hyperlink. For example, instead of “See here,” say, “Read the full report on last quarter’s sales.”
Mention Attachments in Your Copy
Include a line in your email that mentions you are attaching something, especially if it’s an essential document. This ensures your recipient gets the attachment.
Step 8: End Your Email Professionally
The closing of your email should be as deliberate as your greeting. It’s the last thing your reader will remember. Sign off with an appropriate closing that matches the formality of your message.
Professional email closings can include “Sincerely,” “Best regards,” or “Thank you.” Use these for formal messages. “Thanks” or even your name might suffice for less formal emails.
Include a Signature
If your email platform doesn’t generate one automatically, create a signature block with your full name, title, and contact information. This is especially crucial for initial introductions.
Mind the Title
If you used a title in your greeting, such as “Dr. Smith,” mirror this in your sign-off. “Warmest regards, Dr. Smith” provides consistency.
Step 9: Review and Revise
Never underestimate the power of a final review. Typos and unclear phrasing can sneak in in a rush to communicate swiftly. Reading your email out loud can help catch these issues.
Step Away and Return with Fresh Eyes
Step away from your email for a moment. Returning to it after a breather can help you see it in a new light and catch mistakes you missed the first time.
Consider the Recipient
Pretend to be the recipient and read your email from their perspective. Does it give all the information they need? Is the tone appropriate for the situation?
Be Willing to Edit
Editing is a vital part of professional email writing. Don’t remove or reword unneeded words or phrases to increase clarity and effect.
Anyone who appreciates effective business communication should learn how to write professional emails. By following these nine steps, you can ensure your emails are successful and efficient while making a nice, professional image.