Business Etiquette When E-mailing Clients
By Michael Alter
Top 7 E-mail Etiquette Tips
1. Subject line: Be clear and direct; get to the point of the message.
2. Greeting and closing: Don't make assumptions. Don't assume clients remember you. If there is a possibility they might not remember you, open with a simple reminder of who you are. The closing of your message should be professional and clearly communicate the next step, if a next step is needed.
3. Remain professional in tone: Only discuss matters of your business relationship, and never compose or send an e-mail when you feel tired or angry. A good habit to develop is to read your e-mail message aloud before sending, to listen to the tone as it might be interpreted on the receiving end.
4. Communicate clearly: Details matter. Be comprehensive and eliminate wordiness. Using smiley faces, emoticons, exclamation points, or all caps can make you look less professional.
5. Format and structure: Think of your e-mail as a message that is being printed and sent on company letterhead. Do not structure the message in a way that would overload the recipient with too much information.
6. Frequency: Resist the temptation to send multiple e-mails to a client in one day. Multiple e-mails can overwhelm the recipient and devalue your e-mail communication.
7. E-mail signature: Design your e-mail signature with as much information as your business card. Limit the amount of graphics in your signature line - some spam filters block images or, worse, force your message into the recipient's junk folder.
- Make the subject line relevant, brief, and intriguing.
- Don't!!!!! use!!!! too!! much!!! punctuation!!!!!
- Don't use "spammy" words (e.g., free, limited time, discount).
- Don't use ALL CAPS - it can be perceived as SCREAMING in e-mail and considered to be rude.
- Limit the number of attachments; typically, two are enough.
- Name the attachment logically.
- Ask for permission before sending a large attachment. Clients may ask you to send a large attachment on a certain day, at a specific time, or after business hours.
- Consider making attachments easier for your clients to open by printing a document to PDF and attaching the PDF to your e-mail.
Voice of the Editor
Which isn’t completely true. I mean, occasionally I drop by when I manage to sneak out of the nonstop frat party over at Going Concern, but I’m mostly a wallflower over there. I’m happy to say that I’ve been given express permission (or explicit orders, if you like) to wander over here to AccountingWEB more often.
Why is that, you might ask? My job is to replace the irreplaceable Gail Perry as Editor-in-Chief. What does that mean? I don’t really know! I think it’ll be fun getting a feel for things, throwing in my own thoughts here and there, and listening to the discussions you’re having about the accounting profession.