Many emails lack perfection. But if you follow a few rules, you can easily make a better impression on customers or business partners. […]
Although the “email(le)art” had its peak already in the Middle Ages, the art of writing emails correctly, on the other hand, is a thing that only today strives for its perfect form. The difference between the two is probably already known to many – after all, every German office employee sends and receives an average of 180 e-mails per day. Nevertheless, many still lack the perfection that makes emailing really successful.
In our small e-mail-Knigge we want to help you to become perfect and professional in this as well. Because if you make clumsy mistakes here, the email (le) is quickly gone!
Tip 1: No novels
E-mails are no substitute for detailed letters. They are short, quick messages and should be clear, concise and fast. If you need to be a little longer, make a paragraph every 4 to 5 lines. Emails that require scrolling only annoy, that’s why: “No scroll, no grudge”.
Tip 2: Meaningful subject – short and crisp
Your subject line decides whether the message will be read at all. Many receive well over 150 mails a day. If you don’t provide a meaningful subject line, you can save yourself the whole e-mail right away. Even worse: no subject line at all.
Tip 3: Correct spelling
German spelling rules also apply in e-mails. In view of the frequent reforms, some people sometimes use their “own spelling reform” here. Yes, sure – it often has to be fast. But every mail program also has a spelling program. Use it – especially at work. And sending the mails only in lower case is considered rude or sloppy.
Tip 4: Always remain polite!
Many people start their mail with “Hello” and send the addressee unsolicited. What is common in English-speaking countries, for example, usually pisses off Swiss or Austrians. So no “Hi” or “Hey” at the beginning, “Hello, Mr. Meyer” or “Good afternoon, Mr. Meyer” has already become established with us as an e-mail address, but foreigners and higher-ranking personalities who you do not know personally should be addressed with “Dear ones…”. Even “please” and “thank you” have already opened some doors, if they were not applied too thickly.
Tip 5: Never BLOCK WRITING
Pay attention to the form – for example, if you write your mails in CAPITAL LETTERS, you will be seen as a screamer. Even just to highlight important things or passages, they are unsuitable (exception: maybe company names that are written like that).
Tip 6: No Chinese
Bold abbreviations like mfg (with kind regards), + lg (and best regards), gr (greeting) or cu (see you) may be really cool, but only among private friends. In business, you write out sincere greetings. If you are not a permanent chatter, you will also understand the station.
Tip 7: Mass emails in moderation
Group e-mails are well suited for announcing an appointment or sending invitations. But not to discuss professional matters, to send extensive information or chain letters. They themselves do not want to be littered.
In the case of mass mailings, do not include the addresses of your business partners. Write the respective email address in the recipient line and hide the rest in the “Address book”.
Tip 8: No smileys?
Smileys loosen up the e-correspondence and point out positive references or funny places. In private e-mail certainly quite nice, but you should definitely banish the grinning man from your business e-mails if you want to be taken seriously.
Tip 9: Not a priority
All mails can be sent with a higher priority. A trick that is already taking over. For mails with priority (Outlook: New message, then: Message; Set priority), the recipient sees “red” or an exclamation mark. Do without it – if your mail was not important, you could also do without it.
Tip 10: No intimacies, no animosities
Private, intimate and quarreling among colleagues have not lost anything in electronic mail. After all, e-mails can be intercepted and read at the office. Embarrassing, embarrassing! And hard to get out of the world!
Tip 11: Your business card as a sender
The business card is part of business life – even with e-mails. Privately, you can keep it with the signature as you like – at work it is part of it. The recipient wants or should reach you by phone, without having to try to get the information right away.
Pay attention to a clear arrangement: name, job title, telephone number, possibly mobile phone number, also the e-mail address.
Tip 12: Discreetly use read confirmation
Acknowledgments of receipt provide information as to whether an e-mail has been read. Use read receipts sparingly. The recipient will quickly feel harassed if your message is not about something really important.
Tip 13: Respond on time
Those who e-mail are usually in a hurry. Respond quickly, but not too quickly. Rule of thumb: You should write back at the earliest after one hour, at the latest after 24 hours at least a short feedback and then at the very latest after 3 days give the desired answer. Anyone who plays snail mail here has played fast.
Tip 14: Answer correctly
Careless or overly comfortable people often send their original e-mail back to the recipient in their reply. Do this only if you constantly receive e-mails from the same recipient yourself in a short sequence or if you refer directly to the details mentioned in the original e-mail below, which the recipient needs to read your reply again. But don’t produce endless return emails in this way! Also no endless forwarding chains.
Tip 15: Correct attachments
Send extensive file attachments only if you are sure that they are desired by the recipient and can be opened legibly. It is better to announce larger attachments in advance or coordinate with the recipient in advance – by phone or short pre-mail request – also with regard to readable file formats.
But to forget about announced attachments, this should not happen to you. And file sizes of more than 1 MB are also considered unreasonable.
Tip 16: Avoid multiple deliveries
The multiple transmission of the same information unnecessarily inflates the inbox and annoys your recipient. If the same message was sent to the same recipients by different departments or hierarchy instances in companies, these departments should agree on a more sensible information regulation. Or if a recipient has several e-mail addresses, you should ask him in advance for the desired personal address.
Sending messages “as a precaution” at the same time by e-mail, fax and / or letter is simply too much of a good thing – unless, for legal reasons, you also need the file-valid handwritten signed form.
*Andrea König has been writing for CIO.de . The focus of her work for the CIO editorial team are topics related to career, social networks, the future of work and book tips for managers. Working as a freelance writer for various editorial offices is no longer a full–time job – she works full-time as a PR consultant at a Hamburg communications agency.