Emails are a simple and efficient way to communicate with clients. But it can be all too easy to send an email without noticing serious errors, or send it to the wrong person, or convey an inappropriate tone. Here are a few tips for using email in a professional way.
First steps – Agree with your client that you will communicate by email. Then obtain the correct email address. Make sure that your email is being sent to the right place and the right person, and that he/she is expecting it.
Confidentiality – Emails are not 100% secure, so if you are sending something confidential then agree with your client on the use of password-protected attachments and/or encryption. Mark your email as confidential both in the subject line and in the body of the email.
Privacy – Before you send an email to a group of people, ask yourself a) whether each recipient wants their email address displayed to all the others, and b) whether you want all the recipients to be aware of each other. You can maintain privacy by using the ‘BCC’ field rather than the ‘To’ or ‘CC’ fields.
Subject matters – The content of your email should be clear from the subject line. This is the first thing your client will see when the email hits the inbox and may determine if and when the email gets opened. Never leave the subject line blank – it makes your email look like spam.
Keep it brief – Your client could well receive hundreds of emails every day. Long emails are off-putting, so be brief and to the point. If you really have a lot to say, put it into an attachment (check first that the attachment is in a form that your client can open and that won’t be mistaken for spam.)
Think before you click – All sorts of horrible mistakes can be made by clicking ‘Send’ too quickly. The best way to avoid this is to leave a blank in the ‘To’ box, draft your email and then insert the recipient as the last step.
Always sign-off  – Make it clear who you are and how your clients can contact you by setting up a standard signature and using it to end your email. The signature should give your name, the name of your business, your title (e.g. Consultant, Designer etc), and your contact details – phone, fax, address and business website.
Image is all…
With email, other forms of communication – eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice – are missing. The recipient of your email cannot see or hear you (they might have never met you!). All they have is your email, and this can form a powerful impression. Don’t let your email make you come across like a teenager sending a text message. Think about the business image you wish to project and ensure that everything about your email – its content, its tone, its appearance, how it is sent – gets this image across to the recipient.
Good Luck!
Katie Williams
Williams Redgate