How To Have an Effective Email Communicatation? [Full Guide]
Email communication has always been a preferred option for doing business – whether B2B or B2C. It was also a go-to-option for people to catch up with family members and friends, up until social media and real-time chatting were invented.
But even today, there are more than 4 billion daily email users. This is not only a great opportunity to attract potential customers, but it’s also a huge responsibility to convey the right message. The largest chunk of official information is written in emails. Team members exchange emails, clients and businesses exchange emails, etc.
And it all happens for one reason: email confirmation is proof that a discussion has happened and both parties have agreed on a resolution. As a result, emails can be used in court as evidence.
Knowing how to lead effective email communication is important, especially if you work with a virtual team or have some arguments with colleagues, managers, and stakeholders.
In this article, we will show you how to communicate through email professionally and follow the best email practices.
How do you get your Emails to Stand Out?
Business people receive hundreds of emails per day. There’s no guarantee that yours will be one of the lucky ones that will grab attention. In order for you to stand a chance, you should follow a strict process that will give you a chance to get your email opened, read, and acted upon.
Let’s see what are the email communication process key aspects:
- Purpose – what is the point of this writing; giving or requesting information, persuading, educating, advertising services, checking-in, feedback, etc.
- Audience – who are you writing to and what is your relationship with them
- Structure and Content – what do you need to include and where should it go
- Style – the way you are going to write the email
While there is no guarantee your emails will get opened (there are many reasons for someone to avoid reading your emails), following these 4 fundamental principles will significantly increase your chances. Let’s get it started.
How to Communicate through Email Effectively?
Learning how to communicate by email is art. It takes lots of months and years of practice before you get proficient. While it doesn’t look hard to write something and send it, there are two minor situations that can cause you major trouble: once you click send, you will only have a maximum of a few seconds before your reach the point of no return. And the second situation is where many people get it wrong – misinterpretations. While an email can sound reasonable to you, the other party might find it confusing and even offending at times. Let’s see how to avoid such situations.
The first question to ask yourself is whether or not an email is the best choice for your communication. Emails take a long time to write and you cannot expect an immediate answer. There are many practical cases email communication is most suitable but if you need to exchange messages in quick succession or tell something urgently, then you should look towards a live chat app and a phone conversation.
Emails are great for:
- Sending the same information to a number of people.
- Adding attachments.
- Sending follow-ups of phone or chat conversations.
- Communicating to people located in different time zones.
- Providing proof of communication.
- Giving the other party time to think.
So, if the email is the best choice, then you know why you are emailing.
You should know who you are emailing. But, the audience is not about a name. The audience is your relationship with your reader or readers. This should influence everything – from the structure of your email to the style and tone. You need to get a clear picture in your mind of who the reader will be, and what is the desired reaction.
- Do you personally know the recipient(s)? – do you have a shared history, mutual acquaintances, background, etc?
- What is your business relationship? – new client, old client, colleague, someone you manage, etc.
- Is the audience an individual or a group?
- What is their position/level – CEO, manager, a decision-maker, technical expert, etc.
- What is their language level – native speaker, non-native (advantage/intermediate)
Once you have chosen your audience, you need to ensure you write in the appropriate structure and style. We will mention them in the next sections.
Pro tip: Keep a hierarchy. You need to consider information access. While key stakeholders (like CxOs) can be added to copy in all emails, employees should not have access to emails that are supposed to be made to be read by higher management.
3. Structure and Content
The structure and content of your email are what you are going to say and how you are going to set it out. Email communication has a standard that is put in place. An email should have the structure of a statement rather than a conversation. Let’s see what should the structure include:
- Subject line – this is what the reader sees. Ensure you have entered the right topic. Use as few characters as possible. If you’re replying to an email, you should use Re: TOPIC NAME.
- Greeting – if you go directly into the body of the text it can come across as rude. A greeting takes a micro-second to read, whilst immediately setting a tone and relationship. If you’re replying to an email, echo the greeting, if you are writing from scratch, go more formal.
- Intro paragraph – the intro paragraph should be a polite response to the other email (in the same style) or briefly saying something like “hope you’re well” without digging into details.
- Main points – you need to write your key points as soon as possible. They should be clearly explained and properly formatted – whether in bullets or numbered lists, it doesn’t matter as long as they are organized.
- Ending – you should repeat the main points in the ending. Then, you are left with two options – if you are replying to a request, you should report what has been acted upon. If you’re the requester, you should mention what you expect the other party to do.
- Salutation – the goodbye. As with the greeting, this will depend on the nature of your relationship and the tone of the email. Ensure you will have a proper salutation in your email.
- Signature – email signature is a business formality. It should include your name, title/business name, phone number, and website address. It’s also a good idea to add a current picture of yourselves – it adds more authority.
Pro tip: Do not delete original emails and replies. At some point, you may need to get back to a point that has been addressed and not resolved.
Formatting plays just an important role in effective email communication as structure. You should ensure readers can “digest” your email within seconds. Writing large text bulks is an immediate turn-off.
Writing Format Style
- Short paragraphs of two or three sentences.
- Paragraphs of linked information.
- Clear spaces between paragraphs.
- Clear spaces between greetings, paragraphs, and salutations.
- Use bullet points, numbers, headings, and subheadings to break up texts.
- Utilize bold, italics, and underlining to emphasize instead of CAPITAL letters.
- Do not go into explanatory mode.
- Select a font that is clear and easy to read, on all devices including smaller screens.
- Choose familiar fonts – the old favorites are easier on the eyes.
- Keep your font consistent.
- Choose a good font size (consider mobile phones).
Email correspondence should involve only a single topic. If you plan to involve many topics, you should create another separate email. Your body text (the content) should include what has been stated in the subject line.
Pro tip: If you plan to send a couple of emails regarding different topics, you should not send them right away. You should wait for the response and then ask for something else.
Images, Pictures, and Graphics
Formal emails should include links to resources but not the resources themselves. Adding images and pictures in email communication can distract the readers from the text. Also, emails with images in the body remind us of promotional texts.
Just like speakers are judged by their speech, mail senders are judged by the written texts. The style sets the tone of the whole communication. There are 3 writing styles, according to which you should form your emails:
Formal – professional tone, very polite, formal language and expressions, grammar and spelling mistakes are a problem. It’s used in business.
Neutral – clear, direct, functional, with some elements of formal and casual tones. It is used by colleagues at work or in business when you already have a good relationship with the other side.
Casual – chatty, conversational, use of slang and mutually known abbreviations, phrasal verbs, contractions (won’t, can’t) as in speech. It’s used by friends and relatives.
There is a growing trend that more and more businesses are using a more neutral style, to appear “friendly” in front of business partners and staff. The best practices for email communication suggest picking a formal style if you are unsure which one to use. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
It is important to be aware of the style and tone of your email. Whilst emails need to communicate the messages, they also need to clearly establish the etiquette of the relationship, and avoid any misunderstandings.
Before you send an important email, you can send it to a friend of yours to check how it sounds when read. To evade misunderstanding, it’s better to not use words with multiple meanings for your key messages. Consider cultural differences, too. They play a big role.
5. Common Email Communication Issues
It’s hard to learn how to effectively communicate by email. There are some common mistakes that everyone makes at the beginning, and unfortunately – some people keep making them to this day.
1. Long Subject Lines.
The subject line is half of your email. It should contain the essence of the message and set the tone. Oftentimes, people write whole sentences, forgetting how does a subject line appear on a mobile phone device. If it will be read on a computer, the perfect length is up to 60 characters. On mobile – up to 35-40.
2. Adding slang language and emojis
While it is possible to use slang and emojis in your emails, it’s highly recommended that you do not use them. There are a lot of messenger apps that will serve you better.
3. Using business jargon
Similar to slang and emojis, business jargon can be hard to understand. Unless you are completely convinced that the technical jargon you are using is common knowledge to the recipient, then you would better avoid it.
4. Not checking the details before sending
One of the biggest advantages of email communication is the ability to check what you are about to send. You need to ensure you send it to the right recipient. You should also add all necessary attachments and add names to them which are relevant to the subject line and the topic. Last but not least – check the email mood. If it sounds aggressive, you can consider making it more friendly.
5. Not proofreading before sending
Before you click the “send” button, you should proofread the text. Ensure there aren’t any silly mistakes. Try to reduce spelling mistakes to a minimum and avoid things like “we could see the sound” which could reduce your credibility. Don’t forget to check if all points are stated – you don’t want to follow up with another email providing clarification.
Email communication is important when you do business. It can really set you up for success but there are rules and guidelines that you should follow in order to be a good email correspondent. While it takes some time to learn the best practices of email writing, it will eventually pay off.
How to end an email professionally?
Having a good email ending is just as important as a good intro. You should have a greeting like “Looking forward to hearing from you”, “Thanks in advance”, etc. Then you should add your signature which should include your name, position in your current company, and contact details – phone number, email address, and website.
What is CC in email?
CC stands for “Carbon Copy”. In the digital age, there is no such thing but the acronym has remained. If you “add someone in CC”, it means you are adding them in copy, and they have access to the email. You can also add someone as BCC (blind copy). The difference between CC and BCC is that the recipient doesn’t know who is in BCC.
How to respond to an email?
In order to respond properly, you should greet back, and address the main points that you have received. You should use the tone that has been set at the beginning of the email communication.