Friday, July 24, 2015

Email Etiquette: Get It Right or Pay the Price

Whether by phone or email, event professionals are often in constant correspondence with their clients. As an event professional, a great deal of your job is attracting clients, which is then followed by maintaining those clients.

When you’re communicating with clients, potential or established, it is important to maintain a professional demeanor -- this means dressing nicely when meeting in person and speaking politely when on the phone. Most successful event professionals have these standards down pat. Yet all too often, people forget a crucial component of establishing a professional image -- email etiquette.

Following basic grammatical rules and adjusting your style, tone, and diction to your audience’s expectations is just as important for establishing and maintaining your presence as dressing well or speaking professionally. Like it or not, email etiquette is important if you’re trying to present your business to a client.

We both know you’re neither disorganized nor disinterested, but clients are going to judge, subconsciously or otherwise, the content of your written communication. If it looks like you put zero thought into your correspondence, your clients will feel they are a low priority to you, since you took little care in presenting yourself professionally. Perhaps your email comes off as too serious or confrontational or too personal -- these are the things to look out for.

Even if your clients make mistakes in their responses or inquiries, it’s best to be sure that you maintain a professional demeanor every single time you email anyone regarding your business.

Even the best make mistakes. It is all too easy to send an unpolished email without thinking -- we’ve all been there. But remember that emails are not texts -- there is generally no expectation of an immediate reply, at least not the same swiftness expected of most text conversations. So take a breath, read it over at least once, and then send it.

Finally, everybody has a different style of writing and speaking, and nobody speaks or writes perfect “Standard English” -- there’s no need to worry about following exactly every guideline of the Oxford English Dictionary (though you’re more than welcome to if that’s your style).

“Proper” English is not what we’re talking about; rather, what you have to say and how you go about saying it are what really matters in your messages. So be sure to ask yourself if there are more advantageous ways to phrase your sentences.

The following are a few pointers for drafting a professional email to your clients:

1. Always use “Dear___” when emailing a client for the first time, even if you know them well. This ensures that you view the recipient as worthy of a formal greeting. For the most part, their response will dictate whether or not you continue the formality.

2. For business emails, use at least a semi-formal closing. Generally speaking, sign-offs like “Cheers” or “Later” are to be avoided. A simple “Best” will suffice. There’s always the old stand-by “Sincerely,” or the trustworthy “Regards,” and, perhaps the simplest and most direct, “Thank you.”

Never simply sign your name at the bottom of an initial message without a closing. As the conversation goes on, it may be acceptable to do away with closings, but for first messages ensure you take the time to sign off.

3. Be aware of your tone. We are often told that all business correspondence needs to be direct and concise -- and this is generally a good rule of thumb. However, it is possible to be too direct. Direct language is great for clarity, but its brevity can quickly turn into curtness if you're not careful. There is nothing wrong with padding your sentences a tiny bit in the interest of being at least semi-polite.

4. Know when and when not to use exclamation points. I can't tell you how many times I've received an email littered with exclamation points -- it always feels like I've stumbled into a surprise party, but not the good kind. Exclamation points can be great to emphasize a point or to express excitement, but you can express excitement without having to make every other sentence an exclamation. If you want to sound excited, that's fine -- but not at the expense of your professionalism.

5. This should go without saying, but alas, it needs saying: avoid text talk. As mentioned briefly above, writing an email as if you're texting a friend is a really fast way to annoy your clients. We all get that we are often on-the-go and on our phones, but that's no excuse to stop acting like a professional. Besides, writing clearly and carefully can help you in the event that confusion arises and you need evidence to point to. It's much easier to point to a thought-out sentence than a jumble of unclear letters and numbers.

Keep these pointers in mind when you're drafting email templates. With Inspherio, the all-in-one event and business management program, you can create an unlimited amount of email templates for any situation you can think of. Once you have the perfect message, you can use our email marketing feature to send that message to targeted groups of people. You can even read detailed reports on recipients' various reactions to your email marketing campaign -- a very useful tool for market research. Try our free 30-day trial today and see how easy it is to spread the (well-written) word about your business!

1 comment:

  1. Another great informational blog! The pointers are right on target. I really like the idea of templates, especially multiple ones. This would be a great time saver and relieve you of the stress of wondering if you proofed it to perfection. Inspherio to the rescue again!