With the average professional sending 40 emails per day and receiving 121 – it’s inevitable to move fast in your email communication, but are you overlooking fundamental email etiquette rules?

With the new year approaching – unfortunately, email clutter isn’t going away just yet. Mastering your email etiquette is one thing you can take into your own hands that’ll decrease the likelihood of your messages getting lost in this clutter.

The Adobe Email Usage Study found that the average adult spends approximately 5 hours a day checking email: 3 hours checking work email and 2 hours checking personal email. This time is spent reading and composing hundreds of messages at a very fast pace – leaving a lot of room for error.

Minutes spent each weekday checking email

Image source

These errors can lead to missed opportunities or appearing unprofessional. Avoid any miscommunication this coming year by following the email etiquette rules below. 

Before getting into more in-depth overlooked email etiquette rules, make sure to nail down the general rules of professional emailing:

  • Always proofread
  • Use your work email address
  • Resist emojis
  • Always check for grammar 
  • Use classic fonts
  • Use proper punctuation 
  • Avoid abbreviations

Now, here are some of our top tips for perfecting your email etiquette in 2020:

Use professional salutations

Use “Hello” and “Hi” rather than “Hey” in professional emails. It’s important to stay consistent in your everyday emailing. If you keep this email etiquette rule top-of-mind, you will avoid all instances of coming off as non-professional or too casual to your recipient.

Grammarly suggests the 6 best ways to start an email are:

  1. Hi [Name],
  2. Dear [Name],
  3. Greetings,
  4. Hi there,
  5. Hello, or Hello [Name],
  6. Hi everyone,

Your greeting is your recipient’s first impression of you – so play it safe. The last thing you want is them clicking away before getting to the content of your message.

Use a concise signature

Professional email signatures consist of the following: name, company name, contact information, and any social networks or websites.

Here are 9 professional email signatures you can use today.

Here’s an example of one that is clear, concise, and valuable:

Email etiquette rules: concise signature

Recipients are much more likely to remember you if you include an image in your email signature. Also, adding a face to your name can help the email come off as more personable and help the recipient put a face to the words on their screen.

Pay attention to time zones

It’s easy to forget time zone differences – but always think about the life of your recipient before clicking send. Nobody wants to receive an email at 3am.

We created this Best Time to Send Tool by analyzing the flow of millions of emails that reach large cities and broke down the reply rates based on when they received it in their own local time zones.

For example, we found that emails received by New Yorkers had the highest chance of getting a response when received at 6pm. If you’re sending that email from San Francisco, that’s 3pm for you.

Bonus Tip: For Yesware users, this Best Time to Send tool is now live in your inbox. When you schedule your email to be sent later – you can use this tool to help indicate what time your email will most likely get a response.

Email etiquette rules: Best Time to Send

Use an out-of-office reply when on vacation

When you plan to be away from your email for an extended period of time, i.e. longer than a couple of days, it’s important to use an out-of-office automatic reply.

This will help avoid chances of coming off as rude by giving your recipient the cold shoulder. It will also help direct them to another contact in your absence.

A generic out-of-office message goes something like this:

[Your Greeting]

I will be out of the office from [Starting date] until [End date].  

If you need immediate assistance during my absence, please contact [Contact Name] at [Contact’s Email Address]. Otherwise, I will respond to your email as soon as possible upon my return.

Best Regards,

[Your Name]

But if you want an out-of-the-box message, we created some unique and entertaining examples to copy and use here.

Precautions when sending attachments

When sending an attachment, there are a few precautions you need to follow. Avoid sending large files that will take up a lot of space in your recipient’s inbox. If need be, make sure to compress them into a ZIP file. Another very useful way of sending large files through email is attaching them as a Google Drive link.

Also, make sure to send universal file types such as PDF and JPG. Sending a non-recognizable file type will only lead to problems for your recipient.

Email etiquette rules: attachments

Another email etiquette rule to follow when sending an attachment is to always mention that you are sending one or even ask for permission before doing so. A rule behind avoiding viruses and malware is to never open attachments that you are not expecting. Clarifying what you are sending with the name and file type will help avoid hesitation.

Use Reply, Reply-all, CC, and BCC etiquette

A common misconception in professional emailing is the use of Reply vs. Reply-all and CC vs. BCC. In professional email exchanges, it’s important to know when to use each of these.

Reply vs. Reply-all:

Use Reply when you only want to respond to one person in an email thread, and use Reply-all when you want to respond to all emails on the thread.

Refrain from using Reply-all unless it is completely necessary. This not only adds unnecessary clutter to the other recipients’ inboxes, but it isn’t proper email etiquette to respond to one person and send that message to everyone.

A helpful tip to remember: use Reply-all if your response will impact at least 50% of people in the message thread.

CC (carbon copy) vs. BCC (blind carbon copy):

When you CC someone, those emails are visible to all recipients. Use CC when you want to start an email thread with those people or loop others into the messages. BCC is when the person’s email is hidden from others but they receive an exact copy of the messages. They also will not receive future threads, so use this accordingly.

Avoid asking multiple questions 

Don’t overwhelm the recipient by bombarding them with multiple questions.

An important email etiquette rule to stand by is to avoid asking more than a couple of questions in one message. In fact, our research indicates that 1 question receives higher open and reply rates anyways.

Our research shows that 1 question receives higher open and reply rates.

Respondents tend to answer only one question regardless of how many you ask, so save yourself time and stick to one question.

Bonus Tip: For Yesware users, our new Response Insights feature will help you craft the perfect message by analyzing your email and providing feedback based on the most effective subject length, word count, question count, and readability. 

Be careful with your tone

Hearing someone speak words in-person vs. reading words on a screen can come off very different.

When sending professional emails – try to avoid sarcasm or irony, this can lead to misinterpretation and coming off as non-professional. When it comes to dry humor, save it for in-person communication where the recipient can physically hear your tone of voice or view your facial expressions.

Punctuation goes along with this. For example, you could use multiple exclamation points or caps because you’re excited and enthusiastic, but the recipient can easily read this as yelling or coming off as too pushy.

When it comes to the tone of your message – play it safe. Find the right balance between formal and friendly. 

Write a clear and concise subject line

As most of you know, subject lines are fundamental to the likelihood that your recipient even opens your message in the first place. But rule 1 of email etiquette is to keep this subject line clear, concise, and directed at exactly what the email contains.

Your subject line should indicate what your message is about while staying relatively short. Our research suggests that the most successful emails based on open and reply rates had subject lines between 1-5 words. So keeping your subject line short is a win-win.

Also, always keep mobile users in mind and never exceed 7 words in your subject line.

Lockdown these email etiquette rules

As stated above, email mistakes are inevitable. But practicing your email etiquette and keeping some of these tips top-of-mind can go a long way.

Once you instill email etiquette into your everyday emailing: if you get no reply, at least you know it’s not because of a small email error or mistake.

Avoid getting lost in the email clutter of 2020.

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