Keeping up a professional appearance is a must in business. First impressions really make a difference when negotiating with a new client and can make the difference between a deal being won or lost. Even if you are simply dealing with the day to day running of your business, maintaining a professional appearance is paramount. In these modern days of social media, Twitter and Snapchat – the main method of communication business to business is still of course email. So what is the best way to present yourself via email?
Your Own Email Domain
First and foremost the most important thing to remember is that using your own domain name is key. Your domain (the part of your website address before the .co.uk bit) is the first clue people get when receiving your email as to what it is you do and what sort of business you run – so make sure it counts. Using a generic email provider (like email@example.com for instance) can give the impression that you are not a committed business person, or that you are not organised well enough to use your company email address. Almost every domain bought within the UK will have the capability of providing one or more email addresses, so make sure the email address you use matches your company website. If you are looking at getting a new website try our domain checker to see if your desired domain is available.
Formatting Your Name
The manner in which you format your name (the bit before the @ sign) is largely up to you and may well follow a company style. Best practice for formal businesses is to use your full first name, followed by full surname with a full stop in-between to separate the two. For example: firstname.lastname@example.org. The downside to this formal approach is it can look a little bit stiff-collared, plus the longer an email address is the more likely it is to get mis-spelt which could potentially lead to lost emails. A less formal approach for small businesses might be to use a contracted name – for example: email@example.com. Not only does this look much less formal, it is also a lot easier to type.
Writing Your Email
Keep it brief! Time is a precious resource to everybody within the business community, so make sure you get your point across quickly and accurately. Beyond this remember to be polite (without going over the top) – say ‘hello’ at the start, and ‘thanks’ at the end. A conversational style is usually employed in a less formal manner than you might find on a printed letter. Remember to include a short subject line that sums up what your email is about. An effective technique here can be to also include a suggestion of your desired reaction – for example: ‘re: Joe’s holiday. Please add to diary’.
Signing off from your email should be a consistent affair, ensuring that you leave each of your communications with relevant contact details for further information if required. All modern email programs have support for a predefined signature, so make sure you take advantage of this function. Including a small logo within your signature is definitely the way to go (branding as ever is very important here). Some other things you might want to consider including are:
- Privacy notice (in case of undesired recipient)
- Social Media contact details
- Evidence of recent accolades
- Trust signals (logos from governing bodies, professional groups etc.)
If you are looking to set up an email signature with Outlook check this link for advice.
The wrap up
Hopefully this post will give you some ideas of how to improve your own email practice. If you are looking for some more advice why not drop a comment below? Or you can always write me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
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