Email etiquette isn’t a subject that is technically relevant to design, but it is a topic that really ‘grinds my gears’. Being a designer myself and seeing poor email etiquette, practically everyday, surely must mean it’s relevant, right? You will have all seen it before and those of you who know exactly where I’m coming from will nod your head in agreement and those of you who don’t understand, are probably guilty of committing this hideously unspeakable crime.
Good and bad email etiquette
When we open an email, we should be greeted with a ‘hi’ or ‘hello’ or good morning’ etc. This is a friendly and professional way of greeting anyone. If you don’t intend to be anything but nice to the recipient, then you should use a nice greeting. What is fundamentally wrong, is just greeting someone with their name. When I see this, I feel patronised, almost like I’m being told off for something. I mean seriously, we aren’t mortal enemies! The only time I would go in with ‘name only’ addressing emails, is after a few emails of getting no where and the recipient has been no help so far and not done their job correctly. Then I want them to know I am being serious. I let them know I’m being serious by removing niceties from my email, starting by dropping the ‘hi’ and changing my ‘thanks’ at the end to ‘sincerely’.
Because text shows no emotion, it can easily be misconstrued. This is why I can’t stress enough the importance of good email etiquette. So, we have to take this into account and just be a little more weary about what the reader may think. A perfect example of this is a customer of mine. We built him a new website and optimised it with clear ‘call to actions’ and quick contact forms on every relevant page. Before long he was regularly receiving quote requests, however he later asked me why he wasn’t converting many of the quotes he was giving out. So I asked him about his pricing to start with, as this is usually the first thing that people consider. The pricing was fine. So, what was the issue? I then dug a little deeper and tested the process by using the form myself to ask for a quote (obviously using a made up name and contact details, ninja style!). Later that day, I received an email from the company and to my horror there was no greeting in the email whatsoever, no niceness or filler at all. It was literally just a £ symbol followed by the figure. No ‘thanks’ after the quote and no email signature. To top that off, it was from a Yahoo email account, not from an email address matching the company website or related to it. My first question after seeing this was ‘Why should I use your company, if you cannot be bothered to make any effort with me at all?’. This would also make me question the company’s ability to supply the right product or service. Surely if they don’t take pride in their appearance, they won’t take pride in the work they do for me? So, I quickly brought email etiquette to the business owners attention. He obviously had no idea that he was doing anything wrong and this didn’t reflect his company in the correct light at all, as I know first hand that they always do a great job. We quickly set him up corresponding email addresses, signatures, email body text template and a proper PDF quote form for him to attach to emails. This had an instant impact on his conversion rate, literally overnight, all because of how he was being perceived by potential customers!
Remember these 3 points and implement them as part of your new email etiquette, they could be the difference in you winning that new big job or not:
- If you don’t despise the recipient, be nice, say hi or hello when addressing emails – It looks friendly, professional and makes a huge difference!
- Consider what you are writing, question whether it could be read ‘the wrong way’ and make you look aggressive.
- Always end with a ‘thanks’, ‘kind regards’ or something similar.
If you want to go one step further, we found a pretty comprehensive list of email etiquette tips here.