Ninety per cent of most business communication is done via e-mail, so it's important that every message is easy to understand and demonstrates why everyone should want to do business with your company.
Strategic marketing consultant Bruce Mayhew lists 10 of the most teeth clenching e-mail errors most of us make every day, and offers tips for effective communication, which will save you time, frustration and money along the way.
1. Tennis anyone?
'E-mail Tennis' is when e-mails go back and forth… back… and… forth with little or no resolution. It can easily be resolved by picking up the phone and choosing a brief, live conversation.
2. Value your values
Employees should know without hesitation what the corporate and department values. They should also know how they can use these values to differentiate the company every time they e-mail or speak with clients, suppliers or their co-workers.
3. Subject line sliders
Subject lines are used as a primary resource to determine if they will read your e-mail now, later or never. They are also the first opportunity for you to make an impression. If you leave the subject line blank - or use a universal word like 'Sale' or 'Meeting', you risk being overlooked - fast.
4. Serial cc'ers
Coworkers cc'ing each other is an epidemic in many offices. Consider that in an office of only 10 employees, if all the staff Cc the boss an extra 10 times a day, that's an extra 100 e-mails in the bosses inbox they have to sort through.
5. Email vs. instant messaging
Instant messaging (IM), is the closest text-based communications option to a real phone call. If decisions are made on IM, always use e-mail to confirm what was decided and why.
6. New generation, New motivators
Your clients and co-workers can be any age. An employee who is 25 years old might use slang and abbreviations - they are also motivated differently. People tend to write as though they writing to themselves. In the business world, you need to consider your audience.
7. Embracing brevity
Many e-mailers write lines and lines of text that co-workers have to wade through. Brevity is always best so be clear and get to the point fast. Also consider how your e-mail is laid out so that it is easy to read and understand.
8. Don't burn a colleague or an assistant
Never burn a colleague or a colleague's assistant. E-mail is easy to forward and undoubtedly you will lose twice by making an enemy of your colleague and hurt your reputation by looking like a tattle tale.
It's extremely easy to seem abrupt, rude or angry. Always review your e-mail before sending and try to imagine how it might be interpreted by the recipient. Better yet, play it safe and don't go for humour or sarcasm.
10. Jarring jargon
Using insider industry terms can alienate prospects who do not know what your terms mean. For the sake of clarity - in most cases it is best to keep in-house jargon out of e-mail.
Bruce Mayhew Consulting's Effective Business Email Writing Training is designed for business professionals who are looking for a cost effective way to differentiate themselves and be more successful.