To CC or Not to CC — That is the Email Etiquette Question!

Email has become a major form of communication for businesses, transforming the ways in which we connect with colleagues, clients, customers, prospects and vendors. Crafting the perfect email message isn’t easy, but brushing up on proper email etiquette could be a positive change that shows people the true value of your profession, work and attitude. Use these new-age email etiquette guidelines to refine your email communication and send an efficient, polite and professional message.

Subject Lines
First and foremost, a clear subject line will directly influence whether your email gets opened. An email recipient should be able to tell what client/company it’s regarding and the subject matter of the email. This is how they’ll determine the priority of the email, and usually (or hopefully) they’ll begin thinking about the response before they even open it. If you’re sending out an invite to an event, always include the date and time, even if it’s at the end of the subject line.

The more specific your subject line, the better. If you feel weird about just sending the subject line “website changes,” there’s a reason. Slap some detail into it with, “Bugs Bunny client major website changes.” This speaks to the urgency of the email and its priority in the recipient’s list of people to respond to.

Greetings from Head to Toe 
It’s important to use courteous greetings in every email. Clients and customers should always be greeted with formal salutations and their names, such as “Good morning” and “Hello Jacob.” Colloquial sayings are rarely acceptable in professional email etiquette. Only casual friends should get email greetings with “Yo man” or “Wassup.” This is also true with closings. “Sincerely” and “Thank you” are common proper sign-offs, in contrast to “Later hater.”

Email signatures shouldn’t be set to auto-populate. Nobody wants to have a never-ending chain of emails, complete with everyone’s email signature attached with each reply. Make sure your email signature only displays on initial emails. If they need to find your contact info, they can easily scroll to the bottom of the chain.

Here are a few quick grammar tips and tricks. Check, double-check and triple-check your emails before sending them. In your email settings, turn on Auto Correct for spelling and grammar. This will save your life. But don’t just set it and forget it. Proofread it to be sure you’ve spelled names, proper nouns and industry-specific terms correctly. The words “form” and “from” are both spelled correctly, but you need to ensure you’re using both properly in the context of the sentence, especially if Auto Correct happened to change the word on you.

Proofreading not only includes the content of the email for grammar and typos, but you should also make sure it’s concise. Get to the point.

And lastly, wait until you’re done perfecting the email before typing in the email address. This ensures you don’t send it prematurely before you’ve had the chance to proofread. Doing so will validate your credibility and expertise, all with the overarching goal to make you look awesome.

Making a Good Impression
The convenience of email makes it really easy to be informal in business communication. However, the impression you make in all your interactions with clients and customers directly contributes to their impression of your company. The tone of your emails guides the flow of your business relationships. Anger and sarcasm do not translate well in any form of digital communication. It just confuses the recipient, which makes situations even more complicated. Avoid emailing angry. Come back to the email after you’ve had some time to cool off.

To set the professional tone in your email, use formal, complete words and sentences, standard fonts and appropriate email signatures. It’s better to be formal than informal, especially when you don’t know the recipient personally. Remember, you are your company. And your company is great; don’t sell it short with laziness.

Replying to Emails
This is one of the most simple and important email etiquette guidelines because it shows you’re polite and attentive to the sender’s concerns. If someone is expecting a reply, even if the email doesn’t pertain to your department or job, it’s proper to email him or her back and direct them to someone else. This goes hand-in-hand with replying in a timely manner. As soon as you open an email, you should respond to it, if you can. Even if you don’t have time to provide a proper response, shoot them a quick email saying you’ll get back to them later. Then set the email to “unread.” That way, it doesn’t get lost, you don’t forget to respond to it later and you’re not wasting anyone’s time. Efficient, timely responses make everyone’s job much easier.

Using BCC and CC
CC stands for carbon copy and applies when a topic requires a handful of people to be on the same page. The person receiving the email directly should be the only one to respond, not anyone copied on it (unless they’re asked to). People copied on an email should already know one another’s email addresses; therefore, privacy isn’t a problem.

BCC stands for blind carbon copy and applies when you’re emailing a group of contacts who do not personally know one another or who do not have reason to know each other. CCing people who don’t know one another is considered a privacy issue because it involves sharing their email addresses with strangers.

The Reply All Button
Always think twice about the reply all button. Unless the email directly affects all involved, don’t hit that reply all button. People don’t like receiving twenty emails that do not precisely pertain to them. If you have something positively hilarious to say that absolutely needs to be shared with everyone in the office, make sure it’s actually hilarious before sending, and be sure to read the room. If more than one person thinks it is, we give you the green light to hit that reply all button.

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