Email Etiquette Can Make or Break Deals and Yet, So Few of Us Pay Attention to These 3 Mistakes
When sending business emails, pay attention to these 3 mistakes.
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Despite all the innovation in the messaging and communication spaces, email remains the primary channel by which most people, even in the tech world, do business. In 2017, global e-mail users amounted to 3.7 billion users. This figure is set to grow to 4.3 billion users in 2022. Email isn't going anywhere. An email that is written professionally can be the trigger to closing a deal and vice versa, a poorly written email can be the catalyst to a business failure.
Reply so the recipient has context.
This specific point was actually the reason I wrote this post. Last week, I got an email from someone who wanted to meet me in a business context. Apparently we had spoken before and I had told him to contact me in December. The thing is? He didn't reply to that email, but rather started a totally new thread, so I totally lacked the context of this new email correspondence.
Here is the thing in today's business world. Everyone is very busy and it is not a safe or smart assumption to make, that the person you are writing remembers you or the topic of conversation. Always assume they do not remember you and worst case scenario, they can skip the intro in your email if they do remember. However, if you send a new email thread without a reminder of what the topic is, the recipient might end up very confused, which decreases the chances of them responding to your email vs. just deleting it.
If there is previous communication between you and a person you are emailing, include that thread when sending a new email.
Think carefully before using BCC.
Let me just begin by saying that I never use BCC, with the exception of two very specific scenarios. You introduce me to someone, I reply to that introduction thanking you and adding you to BCC so that you aren't bombarded with emails between me and the person to whom you introduced me. Also, marketing emails that include a lot of recipients. That is it, those are the only two instances I can think of that I use BCC.
Any other situation is the equivalent of digital dishonesty, as far as I am concerned. If you email me and BCC someone else, you are in essence letting someone eavesdrop on our conversation without my knowledge. It is not only dishonest to BCC someone without all parties involved knowing about it, it is also ineffective and somewhat dangerous.
If you are sending a few people an email and BCCing everyone, basically every single one of the recipients understands that the email was not addressed to them personally and therefore, feels no need to reply. That is why BCC is ineffective. Why is is dangerous? I once emailed a Google executive about an open position and I recommended a friend who was BCCd on the email. That friend hit Reply All. It got awkward.
Don't BCC with the exception of the two scenarios I mentioned above. Honesty is a core pillar of business and BCC, in most cases, is dishonest.
Be concise, or at least be considerate.
As the digital noise created by social media increases, people's attention span decreases accordingly. If you are emailing a business connection and you want them to read your message and reply, take their time into consideration. If you can't summarize your email in a few sentences, it might be worth rethinking it.
If, no matter how hard you try, the email is a long one, then be considerate of the person reading it. Make the subject clear and relevant, so for example, if you want to discuss potential collaboration, maybe that should be your subject: "Potential Collaboration." Once the person clicks through and opens the actual email, if they can't get the gist of the message in a few sentences, you did it wrong.
You have an ask? A call to action? Put it in the beginning of the email. The email has multiple sections, such as your request, an explanation of why you think it is a good idea, and what are the next steps or action items? Use headers to emphasize those points. Consider using formatting such as bold to draw the recipient's eyes to the parts that are most important.
The bottom line is, email was invented to save us time, which means if your email is long and difficult to read, chances are most people won't read it.