Effective Email Communication
How to Become an Effective Email Communicator
Email, when used properly, can generate additional direct sales and leads; can be used as a tool to communicate with your existing client base to let them know of upcoming events which may affect them; and as a means of ongoing promotion for your business.
The following is a list of simple guidelines and tips that will help you become an effective email communicator. Please bear in mind that many of these guidelines assume that you have never established any prior dialogue and, as you become more familiar with your customers, can often be altered to meet your client's needs.
- Send your emails in plain text. While HTML/rich-text-formatted emails do look much more attractive, they will often be accidentally blocked by anti-spam filters and either show up incorrectly or not at all in various email programs. Plain text, on the other hand, will show up exactly as intended in all email programs.
- Include a signature of no more than four lines. Your signature should provide the recipient with a means to contact you other than email, and should mention your company name. A good email signature format will look something like this:
My Domain Name
Telephone: (905) 509-1661
This signature provides not one, but two ways for a customer to reach you.
Note: Many people will put their email into their signature files. This is, however, unnecessary as the email itself can be replied to directly and the email address may be extracted from it.
- Use common file formats for email attachments. There are a wide variety of formats for attachments; however, these formats are not universal and as such, many people cannot open various types of attachments.
The following is a list, in approximate order of universal acceptance (based on my own experiences), of attachments which are commonly accepted:
- TXT (plain-text)
- JPG/GIF (pictures)
- PDF (Adobe Acrobat Reader)
- DOC (Microsoft Word/WordPad document)
- XLS (Excel spreadsheet)
- Use short paragraphs. Try to keep your paragraphs to 50 words or less to ensure maximum readability.
- Don't send unsolicited sales information/commercial emails. Unsolicited commercial emails, or spam, are becoming an increasing problem and many organizations are blocking, deleting, and in many cases reporting the senders of these emails to various anti-spam services and search engines in an effort to curtail the sender's efforts.
- Use second person terms as much as possible. Words such as "you", "your", and "yours" personalize your emails, letting your customer know that you're thinking of him/her specifically.
- Check your emails for spilling n' grammer...er...spelling and grammar. A minor typographical error in a lengthy email will generally go unnoticed, but a series of typographical, spelling, and grammatical errors will indicate a lack of professionalism and has the potential to cost you business.
Many email programs, such as Microsoft Outlook, include spelling and grammar tools to ensure that mistakes are kept to a minimum. If you do not have an email program with these tools activated, then alternatively you can open up your favourite word processor; type your email; check it for mistakes; and then copy and paste it into your email program.
- Respond to all emails within 24-48 hours. If you cannot answer your customer's question in this time period, at least send him/her an email letting them know the status of his/her inquiry and that it is being taken care of. Some things do take longer than one day to resolve, and the vast majority of customers are very understanding of this, as long as they're kept apprised of the situation.
Depending on your level of familiarity with your customers, some of these rules can be relaxed and altered to meet their specific needs. However, adhering to these general guidelines will ensure that, more often than not, you will become an effective email communicator.