Email is a vital business communication tool that we cannot do without. In fact, it is the first thing that many people check just before they start their workday.
Besides that, communication via email is simple today. Email is the most valuable form of business correspondence today. We use it to discuss business deals, hire people, send sales emails, and interact with potential clients.
We deal with email so much that we may forget to check simple things that can make a significant impact on our emailing.
Unfortunately, once a message has been sent, it cannot be reversed. It’s always a good idea to double-check your emails to ensure accuracy and email etiquette.
Here’s a checklist of tasks that you should conduct before sending any email:
1. Are you emailing the right person?
No one is immune to accidental emailing. You can reveal confidential information such as trade secrets, business contracts and personally identifiable information in emails.
It’s quite easy to send an email to the wrong recipient. Different people with the same or confusingly similar names, same names but different companies and autocomplete feature makes it all too easy to send the email to the wrong person. It’s easy to start typing someone’s name in the TO field and clicking on the first name that pops up, only to realize that it was the wrong person after you have sent the email.
Many organizations have suffered a great deal from accidental emailing. One company even had to beg Google to delete an email sent to the wrong inbox because it contained very sensitive information. If organizations don’t take the necessary steps to safeguard email data, they can face hefty fines under regulations such GDPR, CCPA and other data-privacy acts.
A law firm caused reputational damage to one of its clients which is a Fortune 500 company, because it accidentally emailed a Wall Street Journal Reporter that the US Securities and Exchange commission (SEC) was investigating its client.
That’s why it is very important to make sure to double-check who you are sending the email to.
By the way, there’s a handy Outlook add-in called SendGuard that can help you avoid sending sensitive emails to the wrong person. You can use SendGuard for Outlook to confirm recipients and attachments in Outlook.
If privacy, confidentiality, and security are of the upmost importance to your organization and if you want to ensure professionalism, accuracy, proper demeanor and a failproof way to force yourself to slow down and double check your email before you hit “Send”- then SendGuard is the right tool for your business.
2. Check the Subject Line
The subject line is the most important text that people see when they receive your email. The email subject line is the only thing that your recipients will see when your email lands in their inbox. And this single line of text determines whether your email is opened or moved to trash.Your subject line will also help the recipient of the email to determine whether your email deserves priority or not.
Busy professionals don’t necessarily reply and respond to each and every email.
Clear and concise email subject lines are more important than ever.
Here are some best practices for email subject lines:
- Keep it Short- Shorter email subject lines are better, especially for mobile phone users. Keep your subject lines around 45 to 60 characters, or you run the risk of people not seeing the entire subject line. Mobile phones may show around 30-40 characters.
- Give a clear call to action in your subject- If your email is going to ask the recipient to take an action after reading your email, then it is okay if your subject lines reflect that. A subject line like- “Join us for the Inauguration Day Luncheon” has a clear call to action.
- Share something valuable- having a value-based subject line will attract your recipients focus and attention.
- Make an announcement in the subject line- if you have an exciting news to share, you can share it in your subject line. For example- “The winners of Poster Competition are….” would act as a great announcement.
- Be specific about the topic of the email- the subject line should specifically outline what the email is about so the receiver can prioritize its importance.
- The most important word should go at the beginning of the subject- many people use their smartphones so the most valuable information should be at the beginning, otherwise compelling details can be cut-off.
- Use keywords for easier search and filtering- many people have folders and filters set up on their email system, they may not attend to your email immediately but may file it to a folder to act on it later.
3. Check your Email Content
Keep your email body clear and concise. A simple practice to achieve this is to state the purpose of your email at the beginning of the email body. Clearly ask the recipient what you expect from them and direct them to take the action required by you.
Keep your paragraphs to two or three sentences. If your paragraphs are longer, use bullet points. Check your email body for spelling and grammar errors as well. Do not rely on spell checkers because they may apply the incorrect auto-correct option or sentences may be out of context.
If your emails are riddled with typos, your recipients will have a negative impression of your company’s standards. An email should be written in a friendly, professional, and clear manner that conveys a sense of competence to the recipient.
4. Check your Attachments and Links
Double-check that the files and links you have in your emails are correct. Sending the wrong attachment could give you a lot of trouble if that document contained sensitive information.
BBC reports that Leicester City Council had accidentally sent a file containing details of hundreds, potentially thousands of vulnerable people to 27 companies while getting tenders. The authorities have launched an investigation on this issue as it is a serious breach of Data Protection Act.
SendGuard for Outlook also allows you to confirm attachments before sending them out. SendGuard provides you with an email security solution that assists you in fulfilling your data protection policy. It’s a great technique to get people to think about what they’re sending.
5. Limit your usage of Caps
Writing in caps lock is the digital equivalent of shouting, so be sure to limit your use of caps if you don’t want to sound impolite and rude. Think of all caps as conveying a raised volume. Use diplomatic language and positive statements to write your email.
6. Be careful of “Reply-all” and use BCC appropriately
Do not use “reply-all” in an email unless you are sure if everybody needs to see your response. Most of the time people really do not want to see your response and your response just floods their inbox. Only use ‘reply-all” when your response will have a direct effect on others. If you intend to respond to a smaller number of recipients, edit the “To” field with the list of contacts you want.
Using BCC is a good email etiquette if you want to keep the recipients email address confidential. For example, if you are a university professor and you are notifying academically poor students to attend remedial classes, then you should enter the addresses in the BCC field to keep the identities of other students private.
7. Do not share confidential information
Refrain from sharing confidential information such as social security numbers, credit card information and tax identification numbers in emails unless and until you are officially authorized to do so. Keep in mind that if sensitive information lands in the wrong hands it could jeopardize your business reputation and lead to crimes like identity theft.
8. Don’t say anything that can be misunderstood
If you’re about to send an email that your recipient(s) could find insulting, don’t send it. Make a phone call instead or just talk in person. It’s much easier to get your point across when you have a conversation with that individual via phone or in person without offending them.
Email should be reserved for sharing information, discussing project progress, and receiving feedback.
Having said that, you should not send emails when you are angry. If you are angry with someone, wait till you are calm and normal before you send that email. The usage of profanity is also common amongst people; however, you shouldn’t be using them in your emails as it gives a very bad representation of your business.
Did you know, you can even use SendGuard to detect profanity in emails. Interested to learn more- read this blogpost- Profanity in Emails – Is it okay to swear in business email communications?
9. Include an appropriate closing
Include a formal closing followed by your name such as “Kind Regards” and “Many Thanks” at the end of your email body. Avoid using informal phrases such as “Hugs” “Love” as you’re closing.
Include your contact information at the end of your business emails. Email signatures is a good way to let your recipients know more about you. Information such as your name, company, title, and phone contact. Plus, including your email signature makes your message look more credibility and official.
Microsoft Outlook has already created some really awesome signatures. All you have to do is get the template, copy the signature you like into your email message and personalize it to make your own Outlook signature.
10. Fulfilled CAN-SPAM Requirements
If you are sending commercial emails, your emails should comply with the requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the CAN-SPAM act sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations.
Each email you send must include your valid physical postal address (where your business is located physically) and your emails must not contain misleading information in the “From”, “To”, “Reply-To” and subject line. Your email subject line should clearly reveal what the email is about. The recipients of the email should be able to identify who is sending the email and most importantly there should be a clear way for recipients to unsubscribe from all email communications from you.
Non-compliance to the CAN-SPAM act is costly, each email violation subject to penalties of up to $46,517.
How can EmailMerge Help?
The EmailMerge for Outlook add-in makes it easy for you to send large numbers of personalized emails using your existing Outlook contacts, Excel lists, Salesforce contacts or Access Databases. Our Outlook mail merge software personalizes each email and tells your recipient the email is NOT Spam and was meant specifically for him or her.
You can add an unsubscribe link in your email as well. When a user clicks on this unsubscribe link, a new prefilled email will be sent by the subscriber asking to be removed from the mailing list.
If you’d like to learn more about SendGuard or EmailMerge, please contact our sales team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our add-ins are affordable, easy, and fast to set up and simple to use, try our free trial for SendGuard and EmailMerge today.