Although business owners send and receive a lot of email, it’s not something that many people give much thought to. Emails are seen as less formal than post or phone but more formal than text messages or chat.
Sending email is a convenient but sometimes problematic form of communication because it can breed miscommunication and misunderstandings in both personal and professional settings.
One study found that people view text messages that end sentences with periods as rude or insincere – further evidence that we’re not the best at reading the overall tone and meaning of written exchanges with others. When it comes to professional email, following a few general tips can make a big difference in the tone and effect your emails have.
Here are 4 tips to consider concerning email etiquette tips for small business owners.
Email Etiquette Tips for Small Business Owners
Greetings and closings
In your business emails, you don’t want to come across as overly formal or casual. Your greetings and closings should be appropriate for the relationship you have with the recipient because they set the tone for the email message and how the person will receive it.
You wouldn’t email a potential new client with “Hey!” as a greeting because it’s too casual, but you might email a vendor you know very well with that greeting. It feels strange to use a formal closing like “Sincerely” with a person we email regularly or know well. Use your judgement of your relationship with the recipient when writing the greeting and closing for your email.
Times to send email
Follow these general rules when it comes to email send times – rule number one is considering the recipient’s time zone before your own. Rule number two is avoiding sending email from 8pm – 7am. Rule number three is to avoid sending email over holidays or weekends.
- Send the email at an appropriate time according to the recipient’s time zone.
- As a general rule, don’t send email before 7:00am or after 8pm.
- Try not to send email over holidays or weekends.
Response time expectations
An annual survey by TPS, a customer service organization, asked customers how quickly they expect businesses to reply to emails. The 2014 survey found that a response within 4 hours was considered “Good,” with more than 80% of customers agreeing on it. In 2015, the email response time customers expect from businesses decreased to just one hour. More than 70% of those surveyed said they expect replies from coworkers within 4 hours.
According to these results, it’s best to respond to emails within 1-4 hours, depending on the priority level of the message and the materials or information you need in order to respond.
Set up away messages
If you’ll be out of the office or away from your computer, whether it’s for a day or two or a full vacation, set up an away message to let anyone who’s trying to get in touch know that there will be a delay in your response.
Away messages can easily be set for a limited amount of time and give you an opportunity to tell the recipient when you’re expecting to be back and able to respond. You can also direct them to get in touch with you some other way, or give them the contact information for another person who can help them in the meantime.
Have any additional email etiquette tips for small business owners? We’d love to hear from you!