Even with an increasing amount of social media outlets, email is still the king of communication. According to Statista, 269 billion emails are sent each day. In a survey from HubSpot, 86% of professionals prefer to use email when communicating for business purposes.
Unfortunately, because people use emails so frequently, we don’t always pay attention to what we are sending. Proofreading is optional and mistakes are plentiful. Because emails are a crucial communication for business professionals, we should take the time to edit our emails. Your emails can positively or adversely affect your client and work relationships.
I have made every mistake in the book when it comes to emails. In hopes of saving you from email devastation, I explain my top three email mistakes below. After working through these mishaps, I listed a few quick tips to ensure you are professionally managing your emails.
Mistake #1 – Email Sent has Several Grammattical Errors
This is something I still am working on. Luckily most of us have spell check, but even with spell check some words might slip through, like ‘there’ instead of ‘their.’ One of my worst email mishaps occurred when I was trying to save time. The email was coated with incomplete sentences. In a rush for time, I copied and pasted information from another email, but I didn’t really read through the email to see how it flowed. When the client replied, I glanced down at my email in horror. It barely made sense. Fortunately, the client read between the lines and overlooked my mistake. From then on, I always proofread my emails at least once and sometimes I read them aloud to make sure it sounds clear. For very important emails, I ask a colleague or my manager to review the email before sending it to the client.
Mistake #2 – Meeting invite subject or location is VERY incorrect
I’m including email meeting invites because they have become a common “email” sent to schedule a meeting with clients. Just like an email, you should check the text you are sending in a meeting invite. You should also review the recipient list and the subject line to make sure they are correct. My worst mistake occurred when I sent a client a meeting request with the location of “The Planet of the Apes.” Yes, The Planet of the Apes! You might wonder why and how was that possible. Well.. with Outlook you can choose the drop down to select your meeting location or you can type in the location. When you are typing in your location, Outlook will sometimes give you suggestions based on your previous locations. At that time I used my work calendar for everything. My entire life was scheduled on my work calendar. The week before I went to see The Planet of the Apes with friends and added that as the location for the meeting on my calendar. When I created the request for my client, somehow I clicked this movie title from the past locations. Thank goodness I had such a great relationship with this client. I adjusted the location, apologized and we continued as normal. This situation taught me that it is important to proofread even meeting invites, and that includes the location and subject lines.
Mistake #3 – Email sent to the wrong person (oh no!)
We have all done it. It is very easy to send an email to the wrong Katie in the office or the wrong John Smith client. But my worst email mishap involved sending the email to the wrong person and was a very BIG problem. I was sending an email to my coworker about a client. They were taking over the account and I wanted to give them a quick rundown of how the client was doing. I wrote my honest feedback on the client and then clicked send. As soon as I clicked send, I saw that I had included the client’s email address on the email. Within those 2 seconds, I began to panic. The email was not terribly scathing, but it was not showing the best light on the client. In this case, the client was not happy and they wanted to speak with my manager. In the end, everything worked out and the customer was fine, but it was a situation that taught me to really take email more seriously. Now I truly understand the importance of an undo button. Outlook and Gmail both have an undo or delay option for emails. Everyone should enable these options. This also reminded me to thoroughly proofread all emails, even emails with my co-workers. All parts of an email should be reviewed: the recipients, subject line and the main text are all important pieces.
Email Quick Tips:
- Enable the Email Undo Option – (lifesaver!)
- Proofread your important emails – Use spellcheck or Grammarly (free writing chrome extension) to proof your emails. Read through the email allowed to make sure the sentence structure is sound. If the email is very important have a co-worker or manager read through it. Ask them to check the tone of the email and make sure your email is clearly getting the point across.
- Provide the purpose for your email – What is the purpose of the email? Are your thoughts clearly stated? Make sure your reason for writing the email is clearly stated within the first couple of sentences.
- Personalize your emails – When you send out emails to clients, add their names and customize the email specifically for them. It takes more time to customize the emails, but people are more apt to read your email if 1) their name is on the top, 2) the email has a personal sentence tailored to them 3) the email is sent from your personal email address and not a generic company email that might be sent to the spam folder
- Only send relevant emails – If the email does not pertain to the client, don’t send it. Nobody likes junk mail and you want your clients to trust you and believe you are there to help and not waste their time.
- Follow-up – People get a ton of emails. I mean hundreds of emails a day. Sometimes your emails slip through the cracks. Don’t be afraid to forward your previous email and follow up with your client.