In a lot of online business situations, email is the lifeline between you and your customers and suppliers.
You don’t have face-to-face contact and you may never converse over the phone.
Since your emails are so important, so critical to your communication with both customers and vendors in the business world, it is very smart to pay particular attention to both the substance and presentation of your emails.
All of us get in the habit of becoming lax in the business “chores” that are commonplace and routine. Email is no different.
If you don’t make a conscious effort to watch what you’re doing, you may open yourself up to critical errors, costly mistakes, fouled up orders, or at the very least, being grossly misunderstood in your communication.
I liken sloppy and haphazard emailing to serving a bowl of soup to your guest and realizing that there are several nasty looking flies floating around on the surface inside the bowl.
All of a sudden, the whole meal becomes a lot less appetizing and your guest will probably go elsewhere to dine.
Certainly mistakes and foul-ups happen regularly in business; but sloppiness and errors that could have been easily fixed ahead of time will tend to brand your business as unprofessional, and uncaring (since you didn’t even check your message before you sent it.)
Who wants to deal with a business that could conceivably be sloppy and nonchalant about its products, customer service, handling of your credit card information, or on-time delivery?
Here are the most common mistakes I’ve seen in business email messages that could easily have been avoided had the sender taken a little extra time to think about and compose the message and check it over before sending:
1. The email doesn’t identify the sender.
Some businesses will not even open emails they can’t identify.
With all the spam and security issues that abound on the Internet today, it’s no wonder only a fraction of the emails sent ever get opened.
Also, it would be good for your company to decide upon a particular name that you consistently use in the “From” field on all your communications.
Your customers will learn to recognize and watch for that name and may even “white list” your company for future communications if you ask them.
2. The subject line needs to be completed, be highly descriptive of the message’s content, and should be interesting.
A lot of spammers choose not to use a subject line in hopes of tricking the reader into opening the message just to see what it’s about.
So don’t give your email the appearance of spam – you should do everything you can to make the choice to open the email a safe one for the receiver.
3. The graphics (if HTML email) should load and be displayed quickly.
Use small graphics files and web safe colors if possible.
Constantly watch to see that you don’t send broken links.
Usually problems result when a business fails to review and test an email prior to sending it out.
4. Have you checked the message to see that it has a logical flow and a precise “call to action” or outcome that is clearly stated?
Often the best emails are the ones that are straightforward, simply stated, and tell your customers or vendors exactly the action you are hoping to have them complete.
5. Have you correctly listed your contact information?
An important part of the call to action is to provide the details of how you’d like the receiver to make contact or follow up with you.
Email addresses are unforgiving – if you make just one little mistake, you will probably not receive the follow-up action or information you’re hoping to get.
6. Have you properly formatted the message and proofread it for spelling, grammatical and content errors?
Sure, it takes a little extra time to check your work and be sure that it’s presentable.
It may even be worth your while to have someone else review your work – a fresh set of eyes will catch a lot of errors that you won’t.
7. Sometimes business emails get lost in the shuffle of corporate bureaucracy.
It’s not so much a problem if you’re communicating with another small business, but often you might need to communicate with a large supplier, service provider, or government agency.
Make sure you have the proper person and address before you send your email.
Forwarded or printed and delivered emails have a curious habit of turning up “missing in action” and you may never know what really happened to your message.
There are other things to watch in your email sending or replying.
In most cases, you will be happy with your emails if you make the effort to pay attention to the little details and check your message over prior to hitting the “SEND” button.
To your online business success,