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5 Tips for Making the Right Impression with Email

Aug 17, 2007
Every email you send out represents your company. Are you sending out the right impression?

Here are five tips on how to create email that makes the right impression:

1. Make sure your subject line is not the message.

A subject line should concisely tell the reader what the email is about without the details that could be included in the body of the message. You want the subject line to make sense, but it is a keyword summary, and shouldn't be a complete sentence.

Try writing your subject line after you've written your email message. Then pick out some keywords from the body of the email and use them as the subject line. For instance, if I was writing an email to my boss asking for permission to attend a conference, I wouldn't have "May I attend the conference?" as my subject line. Instead, in the body of the message I would list the benefits to the company of sending me to the conference and then use one of the benefits in the subject line. So my subject line might be "Time Saving Writing Techniques."

2. Address one topic per email.

How many times have you received an email that has all these unrelated topics? First it talks about the high employee injury rates, then the cancelled employee orientation, and then a complaint about the company's dress code. The final sentence is "Please schedule a meeting."

Do you know the topic of the meeting? No, and you'll have a hard time trying to figure this one out because the email covered three different issues. Now you'll have to send another email asking for clarification and waste more time. The whole problem wouldn't exist if each of the three topics was sent out as three separate emails.

3. Watch your tone.

The tone of your email is how your message comes across to the reader. It's not so much what you've said, but how you've said it. Angry, sarcastic or insulting email should never leave the office no matter how vengeful you are feeling. Words cut deep and there are no "take-backs" when dealing with email. You push the send button and the damage is done.

My advice is to never write an email when you are upset. If you feel the urge to vent, open up a Word document and pour your heart out. Say all the mean, rotten things you"d like to say and then step away from the computer. This message is never to be sent.

The next day, chances are, you'll be embarrassed by what you've written because you don't feel nearly as emotional as you did yesterday. And, you'll be ever so grateful you had the clear mind not to send this flaming email!

4. Include a complete email signature.

Think of each of your emails as a business card. Would you hand someone a business card with just your name on it and nothing else? Of course not, so why would you send out an email without all your contact information? It makes no sense.

This week I had a client ask me for a referral and I had the perfect person in mind. I quickly opened an email I'd received from my associate and hoped to instantaneously give my client the contact information she needed. Much to my disappointment, my associate only had his name in the email. So I had to tell the client I'd get back to her with the information. Then I debated whether I really wanted to refer the client to this person that wasn't even professional enough to have complete contact information at the end of the email.

5. Don't assume your email will be read only by the person you are sending it to.

Although email etiquette dictates that you should get permission before forwarding an email, not everyone is so polite.

In one of my email training classes one of the executives told us the story of how in an email to a client, he discussed the problems they were having with a state agency. Rather than keeping this email private, it was forwarded to a state agency representative without the executive's knowledge. Thankfully, the executive had been very diplomatic in discussing the state agency's shortcomings, so he didn't look too bad. But, can you imagine what would have happened had he not been watchful of his tone?

Take Email Seriously

Too many business people take a casual approach to email and that's the wrong attitude. Email needs to be taken seriously. If you think of an email as a business letter and give it the respect it deserves, you'll always make the right impression.
About the Author
Michelle Howe, MBA, is an expert in online copywriting and author of the popular book, Turn Browsers into Buyers. Visit her website at http://www.InternetWordMagic.com for the FREE report, "Five Steps to Article Success."
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