5 Mistakes You’re Probably Making in Your Emails
We’ve all made mistakes. And no, we don’t mean we in the universal sense. We mean that we specifically, at Search Factory | iProspect, have all made mistakes. Especially when it comes to email. Especially when it comes to the 742nd email of the day, and we’re approaching a deadline, and our bloodstreams are alive with caffeine, and “statistics” doesn’t even look like a real word anymore.
Because we’re such great team players, we’re going to share our mistakes with you, along with the very important lessons we have learned from our foolishness. Sidestep these doozies next time you hit the office.
Lesson #1: Proofing isn’t just for the Content Team
Mistakes are Satan’s way of revealing your laziness. In a high-tech world where we can use nothing but an eggplant emoji to express our thoughts, we tend to forget that grammar, punctuation and spelling matter in emails. So don’t hit send before you’ve checked and double-checked that you:
- Have used the right “there”
- Have added commas wherever they’re needed
- Haven’t left the “i” out of “doing” (we are repeat-offenders of this one).
We’ve found it helps to get a second set of eyes to read over important emails. So if your office neighbour, Bob, isn’t too busy (or even if he is – your work is more important), ask him to proofread your email before you send it. The recipient, whether it’s a client, a colleague, or your boss, will take you more seriously sans mistakes, and the attention to detail will represent the diligent worker you are.
Lesson #2: There’s no need to ramble on
Keep it clear and concise.
Lesson #3: Improper use of “reply all” can ruin more than just a birthday surprise
Hands up if you detest those endless email threads that are completely irrelevant to you. Now, use that same hand to swear to the heavens that you’ll never unnecessarily use “reply all” again.
Incorrect use of “reply all”, CC or BCC is not only annoying; it can also be damaging. Bob would be very disappointed if you accidentally included him in an email regarding his surprise birthday cake, but that’s not the end of the world. Accidentally including your manager in an email that mentions your “real feelings” about them, however, could see you handing out resumes in the near future.
We’ve learned to always double-check the recipient list before hitting send. Because once your email is out there in cyber space, you can’t take it back.
Lesson #4: The subject line is the most important part of an email
There have been a few occasions where we’ve waited (im)patiently for a response to an important email only to be met with an empty inbox. Upon hitting up the recipient for a reply, it turns out they absentmindedly scrolled past our email due to the empty subject line. We have no one to blame but ourselves, and so we retreat back to our desks to cry.
Is your email about nothing? No. Even if it’s just a cute meme of a puppy, you need to add a subject. “Cute puppy meme” should suffice.
What’s arguably worse than an empty subject line is a misleading subject line. Have you ever received an email with the subject “Cupcakes in kitchen”, only to be informed inside the email that there will not in fact be cupcakes in the office today? We have, and it’s heartbreaking. Don’t do that to your recipient. Make your subject line clear and relevant.
Lesson #5: Forgetting a greeting or a signoff can make you seem pushy
Diving right into an email without a greeting can come across as a bit impersonal and demanding. You wouldn’t walk up to a client and ask them for a signed contract without a friendly greeting first, so don’t go asking for things through email without offering the same.
No, this doesn’t mean you should include a short story about your new nephew or how your hair is doing that flicky thing you don’t like. We’ve learned the hard way that, in the professional world, no one really cares about your extended family or your weird grooming habits. But a quick ‘hope you’re having a good week’ goes a long way when it comes to building a rapport with your recipient. Then you can get down to business.
Similarly, ending an email without a signoff can feel abrupt and cold. Take a moment to include a closing line that leaves a good impression and outlines any required actions. It’s these pleasantries that help to build your image as an individual and a brand.
Email is a great way to communicate, but if you’re not paying close attention, it can go horribly wrong (trust us). Have you made a mistake in an email that ended in disaster? We want to hear about it, if only to laugh at your expense. Just kidding (kind of) – we’re all in this together.