11 Email Best Practices for Growing Your Business in 2020

Cayce Finley
August 5, 2020

How Authentic Email Etiquette Can Make or Break Your Next Business Lead

Keeping in touch is a lost art, but one that’s essential for growing your business and nurturing client relationships. 

While there will never be a replacement for a timely and personal hand-written note, email has made staying top-of-mind with your clients simple and effective — if done the right way.

Almost 300 billion emails are sent and received every day, and somewhere, nestled within that huge number, are the emails you’re sending to your clients, prospects, and referral sources. 

So how can you make sure your emails don’t get lost in promotional-tab purgatory or doomed to the digital trashcan before they’re even read? 

In a world of over-the-top email marketing strategies and impersonal mass email blasts, stand out by employing these free and simple email best practices that help grow your business every time you hit send. Give your emails every advantage with these tips that are easy to do today.

1. Strive for a Friendly Tone and a Clear Message

"This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.
Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important." -  - Gary Provost, 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing

Bookend your emails in warmth with sentences like, “I hope you’re doing well after the holiday weekend,” “I look forward to catching up soon,” “Would it make sense for us to connect face-to-face?” and “Enjoy the rest of your afternoon.”

You also want to make sure your email has a clear message. Consider what you want your recipient to remember after he or she has closed your email — maybe an upcoming promotion, a new product, a time-sensitive call-to-action, or a helpful tip?

Focus on one message, and one message only — if you try to stuff too much in one email, your recipients will struggle to remember anything it said at all.

2. Proofread, proofread, and proofread again.

You’re not a writer or a grammarian, but that doesn’t mean your emails shouldn’t read like you are. Make sure every email with your name on it is free from spelling errors, punctuation blunders, and hard-to-read sentences. Even though it seems small, typos can be a reflection on how professional your business practices will be to your client. 

Free tools like Grammarly make it a cinch to catch and correct common mistakes within the body of your email no matter what email platform you prefer.

If you have a team member who has an eye for misspelled words and out-of-place commas, promote him or her to an in-house editor. The few minutes it takes for a second set of eyes to look over your email is worth the credibility you’ll gain by consistently sending error-free emails.

3. Use chunky paragraphs for readability.

If you want your recipients to read your emails, make them easy-to-read. Even if your email is content-heavy, break your paragraphs up into bite-size chunks of no more than 2-3 sentences long. Using bulleted or numbered lists where appropriate will also allow your recipient to scan your message.

4. Keep formatting simple.

To stand out from your competitor’s business emails, you may be tempted to “dress-up” your email with all-caps, whimsical fonts, bright colors, or the latest emojis. Unfortunately, these tactics aren’t effective and distract from your message. Keep your emails clean, classy, and easy on the eyes.

5. Use a professional email address and salutation.

This is a no-brainer, but worth mentioning — send work emails only from your business email account. If all you have is an address like suelovespuppies@gmail.com, create a new one using a combination of your first and last names.

6. Enter the recipient’s email address last.

To prevent emailing out an unfinished draft, wait to enter your recipient’s address until just before you hit send. Although we’ve all done it, it’s a costly mistake that can easily be avoided. 

7. Never email confidential information.

With companies announcing data breaches almost weekly, never email confidential information — both in the form of protected personal information such as usernames, passwords, and financial data and sensitive information regarding hiring, firing, transitions, or announcements. 

8. Always include a clear email subject line. 

While you know why you’re sending the email, your recipient does not. Always include a subject line that’s relevant to your email’s subject — the more specific and personal, the better. At the same time, it is still important to be brief and eye-catching, because your customer is likely scrolling through dozens of emails. The more personalized you can make your email subject line, while also summarizing the content, the more likely you’ll see email open rates go up. 

  • Okay subject line: Hurricane season is coming
  • Better subject line: Above-normal storm season predicted - are you prepared?

9. Use “reply all” sparingly.

Reply all has its place, but it’s often overused. No one wants his or her inbox cluttered with 20+ one-word replies — especially when it’s things like “Thanks!” or “I’ll be there.” Before you reply all, pause and consider if such a response is merited. Ask yourself as a business professional: “What is worth interrupting someone’s day over? Does my message or response add value?”  

10. Give time for a reply.

To give your recipient a reasonable time to respond, wait a full business day before following up. If you need a response sooner, follow your initial email with a phone call or text message to alert your recipient a reply is needed ASAP. 

11. When in doubt, wait to send.

Sometimes business gets sticky. If emotions are running high, draft your email, but save it as a draft. Let an hour or two pass, and then revisit your draft before sending it, taking special note of your tone. Make edits as needed. 

Of course, there are recommendations on the best day and time to send a business email. Recent data from Hubspot for mass email blasts shows that 10AM, 1PM, and 6PM on Thursdays is the best timeframe to maximize your email opens.

But, knowing when to send business emails that are more authentic and personalized can vary from industry to industry. So, think about your specific audience and how they behave. Try to match your email frequency to when your customers are most likely to be checking. In general, most 9-5ers check email right after they get to work, again around lunch time, and again when they get home from work. However, you also have to think about how much screen time they may or may not have in any given moment. Someone who just got home may have dinner to prepare, kids to entertain, or a lawn to mow. They may see your email, then totally forget about it because they were distracted. It all depends on your customer type and it is always worth testing different times to see what works best for your business. Plus, those few hours of waiting may save you from more stress and headaches down the road rather than rushing a message. In today’s email world, quality stands out way more than quantity.

Email is Here to Stay

According to a Twilio SendGrid Email 2019 study, 97% of people ages 15-65 say email is essential to their lives over texting and social media. 

As a business owner or professional, you do need to be thinking about how you can consistently send relevant, targeted, and personalized messages as part of your email strategy — but doing so doesn’t have to be overwhelming and complicated. 

Just remember these best-practice tips, and you will see your business grow, your relationships thrive, and your influence expand.

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