I tried to find relevant email etiquette rules for 2020. And you know what? 90% of what I’ve found is complete nonsense, outdated for like 50 years. It feels like the authors of articles about email etiquette have been watching the Downton Abbey too much.
Writing emails in the style of 20th-century English lords is definitely a good idea, don’t you think so? (SARCASM)
If your target audience is Elizabeth II and her entourage – this is indisputable. But there’s a suspicion that you’re not just working for her. So this time I will refute the majority opinion.
These are my subjective thoughts, whether to accept them or not – it’s your call. But please note that times are changing, and with them, the mood of the target audience is changing too, as does the business email etiquette.
In general, in this article, we will discuss not only valuable (and logical) rules of etiquette but also a couple of tips from “experts”, which, in my opinion, it is better not to listen to. So here we have 4 email etiquette rules – 2 bad and 2 good.
Bad advice #1: Use only polished professionally-looking emails a la “email@example.com”
I’ve read, that God forbids you to use emails like firstname.lastname@example.org. Perhaps, English lords will faint seeing such blatant non-observance of the traditional values.
Sounds kind of plausible. But let’s think a little with our heads.
I am sure that you have often thought about how to increase the readability of your emails.
This can be achieved by reducing the number of your emails getting into spam.
As we know, most of the template letters similar to 100 thousand of the same get into spam.
What if the email comes from the address that doesn’t look like one of 9999 similar corporate emails? That’s right, it stands out from the general mass!
For example, a email@example.com email would be quite appropriate to use if you sell beer, or home Breweries, or even accessories to beer factories.
Bad advice #2: Use only super unambiguous, specific and understandable for an idiot email topics
You know, it feels like emails are written for robots, not people. “Write in the subject line clearly: “discount!”- I really found a lot of such tips over the internet.
Again, the question arises – why do we write emails at all? Often in order for people to read them and perform the action we need.
The fewer people read the letters (means, the lower the open-rate), the less we will earn.
Come on, do you guys often open emails with the “discount” subject? Especially when you have a dozen more in your inbox? I doubt it.
Since we’ve started a nice beer theme, let’s try to compare email themes such as
- «20% discount on blond ale”
- “How do you treat BLOND with 20% off”?
Which letter would you rather open?
For a second, I’m not in any way encouraging you to deceive customers by using email topics that don’t match their content. Themes like “70% off for 10k flat-screen TV” will probably boost your open-rate in the short term. But when it turns out that such a discount is valid for the purchase of 15 TV sets at once, how many people will then open your second letter?
In general, be reasonable 🙂
Good advice #1: be careful with humor
Most people like to laugh and make a joke, we for example in our startup Proofy we always welcome it. Emotions release is good for business.
But in email correspondence, if you decide to joke and write with sarcasm, consider all possible interpretations. Humor is perceived differently by each person, and you may accidentally offend the reader. In some cultures, what we find funny can be considered rude.
FYK: the representatives of highly contextual cultures (Japanese, Arabs, Chinese) prefer to know about a person before starting doing business with them.
On the other hand, representatives of low-context cultures (Germans, Americans, Scandinavians) prefer to quickly get down to business.
Good advice #2: Structure the letter so that it is easy to understand
For example, I try to do so in this article. I divide the text into short paragraphs of one or two sentences so that each thought is a separate clear piece of logic.
Also, if you want to go deeper, I advise you to read the summary of the Barara Minto’s book “Minto Pyramid”. This book will give you an understanding of not only how to write letters, but how to present your ideas to people in the most understandable format.
Anyway, don’t be afraid to conduct experiments!
The Proofy team wishes you good luck and proper communication with customers! 🙂