Wednesday, 30 October 2019

SME Tools: seven steps to the perfect business email

Natwest Contentlive recently asked me, as a business experts and SME owner, to share my tips on writing a well-considered email and why it's important the team are aware of this, too.

Read my response below:

Why is it important to get the tone of a business email right? What can go wrong if you don’t?
You can usually sum up an email with the email subject. Without this, some people may not even open it.

I am a communications and business expert and understand the importance of tone of voice. Because we write in short on text message now (I don’t) employees or businesses think it’s OK to do this in email.  It’s not I’ll tell you why. Perception is everything.  The use of good language and being polite is everything.  It helps you in life.


Top and tail your emails like you used to your letters.  I always do unless I can’t really, really get away with it.

I bet you this email will be forwarded to someone I don’t know.  Emails are sent on all the time to delegate and FYI.

Don’t use slang. It looks really poor and gives the perception of a lack of professionalism and a lack of the language you are using.

Never ever have a go at someone on email. Not emotionally. Once it’s down in writing, it’s down. 

Never have a go about someone else. By accident you will send it to the person you are having a go about – why would one do this anyway.

I rarely use exclamation marks. So, many people do. It can be totally misinterpreted and can give the impression of intolerance or anger.

Don’t use 15 words when only 8 are needed. Business professionals don’t have time to read lengthy emails.

Can you give any personal examples of what to do and what NOT to do – e.g. things you do or have seen others do?

I always reread and reread emails and constantly amend. If it’s a lengthy email that I want on the record and saved, then I will make sure that every word counts.

I never use too many words and almost write in report format. Bullets are very good to reduce misinterpretation and emotion.

I only cc in relevant people or even just reply to the one person I need to – ccing in everyone can look political but also rub others up the wrong way.

What do you do in your company and in your own practice to make sure emails are written well and strike the right tone?

redheadPR has a style guide and tone. It was set by me. I have worked corporately at the highest level so do everything in this manner. That means we write emails to the highest standard.

Always top and tail.  Dear Blah and Kindest regards Sara. Always use headings for ease, bullets, and be nice.

Are there any things people now need consider due to emails often being read on smartphones – e.g. getting the main point across right away?

We use a project management board rather than emails for our business. This keeps email traffic down. This means our clients can see information in a dashboard. Writing long emails now is a thing of the past. People don’t have time. They get the information from the board and it fits in the phone screen.

My benchmark is – work from your phone.

What factors should be considered when writing the subject line?

Put the call to action in the subject.

Don’t make it too long.

Make them want to open it.

What tips would you give for opening a business email and getting the tone right?

Make sure you have a really nice signature and your email URL is your brand. 

I hate Gmail and emails without signatures as it’s a waste of space that could be used effectively.

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