Email etiquette, honestly? how to write an email…I hear you say! Now, I know that the topic may seem old hat and you would think, in this day and age we would all be well versed in the correct way to construct and write a winning email…..apparently not.

The number of emails I see daily that, quite frankly blow my mind, with the lack of the basics; it would be negligent for me not to be covering these off!

All emails follow the same basic structure; Subject Line, Opening, Body Text, Closing. I am not trying to reinvent the wheel here, simply hints and tips on how to nail the emails you do send and give you the best possible chance of a response!

So, we start with the subject line, get this bit wrong and your email isn’t even getting read. A clear, concise insight as to what the email is, with a good reason for them to open it is what we are looking for here.

  • Keep it short – A typical inbox reveals around 60 characters of the subject line, whilst a mobile phone only shows 25-30 characters. Get to the point in about six to eight words and you are on the right track.
  • Get rid of filler words – waste of characters and unnecessary
  • Be clear and specific – the subject line should indicate exactly what the email is about

You’ve got it, they have opened the email – now let’s get it right with the first line, the opening…what is the appropriate way to start an email? Salutations, always a tough one…..you want to come across friendly yet professional, not wanting to be too formal yet being over familiar is also a risk at this stage, so where is the happy medium?

  • Hi [Name], – For me – the clear winner in all except the most formal settings, if you want to make this a little more formal consider using ‘Hello’.
  • Dear [Name], – Not a favourite of mine, but it is appropriate for a formal letter or when you are addressing a person in a position of respect or if you are sending your CV/Cover Letter to a new company.
  • Hi there, – Perfect for a mail merge or when you are sending an email to multiple recipients – avoid using this when sending to an individual – it could be seen as impersonal.

I have seen some questionable emails land in my inbox over the years and the number of these that have started with spelling my name wrong……please check the spelling of the recipient’s first name – autocorrect can do some strange and powerful things with a name, as well as fast fingers that push the wrong buttons from time to time! You have spent all this time finding your prospect, possibly even having had a good conversation with them on the phone and you send them the first email and spell their name wrong! In the first line of the email! Hate to break it to you but you are not getting that bit of business!

Other introductions to avoid:

  • Dear Sir/Madam – stiff, formal and looks like you couldn’t be bothered to find their name
  • To Whom It May Concern – again, do your research!
  • Hey! – waaaay to informal guys! Save this one for friends and colleagues!
  • Happy Friday (or any other day of the week) – You are trying too hard; you want to come across as a professional not an excitable golden retriever.

OK, so we have the greeting down, it’s on to the content of your message, the body of your email. Make sure this has a clear and specific purpose. No waffling or pointless chit chat and make sure it gets to the point without turning into war and peace – the body of your email should be four to five sentences – any more than that, people switch off…..you also need to ask yourself, if that much detail needs to be included that it looks more like a novel – should this perhaps be a meeting instead? Include a call to action – ultimately that’s why you are sending the email right? You need something actioned or further information – so ask for it.

  • Register…
  • Call…
  • Limited time only…
  • Subscribe…
  • Buy…
  • Share…
  • Download…
  • Click here for…

So far so good, your email has been opened, read and now all that’s left is to close the email – just as important as the opening – it needs to feel genuine to the style of your email yet ensuring the appropriate level of professionalism.

My favourites are:
  • Many Thanks,
  • Kind(est) Regards,
  • Best,
  • Talk Soon,

Feel free to use here whatever you feel appropriate and that fits with the tone of the email – if you are sending an email from your phone – please make sure you are not using text language (no one needs a ‘thx’’) and I would make sure the classic ‘sent from iphone’ is not rearing its head on a professional email…..it’s very easy to get rid of and will leave a far better impression.

That’s it, you’ve mastered the fundamentals of constructing an effective email, giving you the best possible chance of a reply!

One last point to make – where you can, avoid typical email clichés! It can make people tune out and are overused!

  • Please find attached
  • Thank you in advance
  • I look forward to hearing from you
  • As per our conversation
  • I hope you are doing well
  • Sorry for the late reply

You know you have seen them used so many times – they become meaningless, switch it up and put something new and unique in there – it’s more likely to grab their attention!

And there you have it, Tales of Sales’ Email Etiquette – as always make sure you are following Sophie Fleming and Lorren Daly and reading their blog posts too….by the time we are finished you will be Salesperson of the Year!

And of course, if we can help you grow your sales teams or support you to find your next step in your sales career – get in touch – we would love to help!