How to Enhance E-Mail Response - Part 5 Features of Professional e-mail

What makes an e-mail professional looking ? There is no universal rule or convention - it is not desirable either, we all have our individual styles and preferences. However, there is some agreement on desirable qualities of e-mail, some do's and don'ts, that have emerged over discussion on netiquette. These are conventions, that e-mail users have found pleasing and good to have in e-mail communication.

Any e-mail has three distinct components - format, content and style. I have compiled a collection of desirable qualities in each of these three areas.

Format of E-mails - 12 Elements to Watch

  1. Business e-mails should be personalized, bearing recipient's name and company/organization. Never send all-purpose, general type e-mails to your clients - people seldom read such e-mails.
  2. DON'T TYPE IN ALL CAPS. This is perceived as shouting. Use emoticons (smileys) when trying to convey a tone of voice :-)
  3. Limit line length to 65-70 characters across. Otherwise some e-mail programs will wrap the text at wrong points or not wrap it at all
  4. Do not use long sentences, use paragraphs to structure your message appropriately.
  5. The length of your e-mail should be limited to, ideally, half the size of A4 paper. Use hyper links (to your sites) liberally instead of long write-up on company profile, history, management... !! If you do not have web-site, place such information as appendix at the end of mail. Many users limit the max size of e-mails to be received. Large e-mails, in such cases, never reach the recipient.
  6. Make sure your mail has not only a SUBJECT but is relevant and as specific as possible (e.g. 'In response to your enquiry for brass candle stick (July 15)' rather than a vague sounding "Indian Handicrafts'.
  7. Do you have a signature file ? All e-mail software (Outlook, Netscape, Eudora etc.) support a signature file that automatically gets appended to your e-mail. The signature should contain your contact details like telephone, fax, mailing address, and URL of your Home Site (if any)

    The signature should not only STAND OUT, it should contain an interesting/attention grabbing phrase. The signature file is a great tool to advertise your web-site, products etc. Remember, every time you send an e-mail or someone forwards your message or you post a message at bulletin board or discussion forum - your promotional message reaches new audience without any extra effort.
  8. Never attach file attachments without permission of the recipient. In this age of countless viruses being carried through attachments, chances are your e-mail will end-up in trash folder.
  9. When sending a web site address, always type it in the form of "http://" because most e-mail programs can identify such format as web-site URL and convert it into clickable link. Recipients can reach the web-site just by clicking the link.
  10. When forwarding messages, put your comments at the top of the message
  11. Do not cram the To or CC: column with e-mail addresses. If at all you wish to mark CC, make sure all recipients have some kind of relationship and are relevant in the context. (e.g. addressing mail to Head Office of a company with CC: to local branch office for follow-up
  12. Make sure the Reply To column is correct. It is so frustrating to receive a mail, which can not be answered !

Happy and Productive Surfing

Dr. Amit K Chatterjee

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Source: FAIDA - Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad Vol: 5, Issue 8 ; September 30' 2004

Author : Dr. Amit K. Chatterjee
(Amit worked in blue-chip Indian and MNCs for 15 years in various capacities like Research and Information Analysis, Market Development, MIS, R&D Information Systems etc. before starting his e-commerce venture in 1997. The views expressed in this columns are of his own. He may be reached at )

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