The Dos and Don’ts of Business Email

Emailing has become an essential business tool that everyone in the workforce needs to be able to use. This convenient technology comes with a few pitfalls, though, that could get you into some trouble. Work-related emails need to follow a few simple guidelines in order to ensure that they represent you and your business in the best light.

Being Professional

It’s important to remember that when it comes to business emails, convenient does not equal casual. It’s tempting to go informal with business emails, but you should resist the urge, especially with new clients and associates. Think of your email as an electronic form of your company letterhead and keep the content within appropriate bounds for this sort of communication.

Keeping it Simple

There are a lot of formatting options available for email these days, but using them could be a mistake in many cases. The recipient’s email may not have the same formatting or fonts available, so your email may not look the same on the other end as it does on your desktop. In worst case scenarios, the recipient may not even be able to read your email at all if the formatting options are not compatible. Keep all content and attachments as simple as possible to make them user friendly for the recipient.

Cc and BCc

Group emailing can get tricky and can bring up some privacy issues if you’re not careful. Note the difference between Cc and BCc to avoid these problems. Cc is used for group emails where everyone on the recipient list is part of a team that needs to be mutually informed. Members of the group will be able to see each other’s contact information and each other’s replies as well. When you want to impart information to a list of people without giving them access to each other, BCc is where you need to list their addresses. This will keep their contact info confidential and will keep their replies separate.

Avoiding the Junk Mailbox

One common problem for business emails is that important correspondence somehow ends up being marked as spam and relegated to the no-man’s land of junk mail. In order to keep your emails from being flagged as spam you need to:

  • Keep formatting simple. Complicated formatting, embedded text, and even bold red sections can all be flags for spam.
  • Have a clear subject: If you leave your subject line blank, or write it in all lower case, or in all caps, it could send your email directly to the recipient’s spam folder. A clear, grammatically correct subject is more professional anyway and will make it more likely that the recipient will open your email in a timely manner.


Mind Your Manners

A little common courtesy goes a long way to making your email correspondence more productive. Before sending larger attachments, ask the recipient if it’s okay, and double check with them that they have access to the facilitating program to open it (ie: Power Point). Always use a clear subject line so the recipient can prioritize your email properly. Don’t just reply to old emails with old subject lines. Putting in a new subject line and starting a fresh email for each new issue makes it easier for the recipient to sort through and find information they need later on. Always respond to work emails in a timely manner, so important business doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.