Table of Content
Meaning of Email
Electronic mail, commonly called email or e-mail, is a method of exchanging digital messages across the Internet or other computer networks. Originally, email was transmitted directly from one user to another computer. This required both computers to be online at the same time, like the instant messenger. However, today’s email systems are based on a store-and-forward model.
Email servers accept,forward, deliver and store messages. Users no longer need be online simultaneously and need only connect briefly, typically to an email server, for as long as it takes to send or receive messages.
An email message consists of two components, the message header and the message body, which is the email’s content. The message header contains control information, including, minimally, the sender’s email address and one or more recipient addresses. Usually additional information is added, such as a subject line.
Concept of Email
Emails are a business staple. They enable you to focus on a target audience and get in touch with a number of individuals having mutual interest at the same time. The concept of electronic mail or email has fast picked up due to easier access between the buyer and seller, and has further brought efficiency in the inter-organization and intro-organization framework.
Emails have now become the fastest and most widely used form of business correspondence as the world is slowly becoming a global image.
Use of Email in Business Communication
With the growing popularity of the Internet, more and more people are communicating via email.This fast and efficient method of communication is perhaps the most preferred method of online communication at present with thousands upon thousands of emails being sent each day.
The many uses of email are what make it so appealing and so versatile. Whether a person is sending a greeting to a grandparent or sending files to a co-worker, one can easily employ email for all purposes.
Following are some of the key advantages of communication through emails:
Managing Email Is Easy
You can manage all your correspondence on screen and so can your customers. Your proposal can be sent, answered, revised, stored, and sent to others, all without reams of paper involved.
Email Is Fast
Mail is delivered instantly from your office to any where in the world. No other methods of delivery can provide this service. Timely buying and selling decisions can be made in a very short time.
Email Is Inexpensive
Compared to telephone calls, faxes or over night courier service, email is less expensive.
Email is easy to filter: The subject line on an email makes it easy to prioritize messages. The reader can identify critical correspondence quickly and deal with it immediately. Unlike regular mail, which needs to be opened and reviewed, or voice mail, which requires you to either listen to or scan all your messages for those that require immediate attention. Transmission is secure and reliable.
The level of security in transmitting email messages is very high and the industry continues to strive to develop even tighter security levels. Email is private. Often telephone and fax messages are not. If the address information is correct, an email rarely goes astray. Fax machines can be out of order or out of paper and this prevents an important message from being delivered in a timely manner.
The meaning of the term ‘etiquette’ is ‘conventional requirements as to social behavior; proprieties of conduct as established in any class or community or for any occasion’. Thus, we have medical etiquette, whereby we refer to the code of ethical behavior regarding professional practice or action among the members of the medical profession in their dealings with each there. Similarly, we use the term email etiquette when we talk about the protocol or acceptable methods of using emails.
Of late, email is one of the most commonly used modes of business communication. Therefore,email correspondence from employees to customers and co-workers should be polite and efficient at all times. Poor email etiquette not only reflects unprofessional practices in your company, but in some cases it can cause legal liability and costly law suits.
Email etiquette training is one way to easily and effectively teach your employees the way to represent your company through online correspondence. Reviewing and integrating guide lines about email etiquette can help your company to be at the top of its game when it comes to communicating a professional image at all times.
Tips to Write Professional Mails
Email writing has become a large part of modern communication, particularly in business. The world has become much smaller now that we have the ability to send and receive email messages over great distances at an incredible speed. Due to the ease of use, it has the potential to be abused and you should try to keep the following points in mind when writing email.
- How much should I write in an email?
- Do spelling and grammar matter in email?
- What do cc: and bcc mean?
- What are plain text and HTML format email?
- What is a signature file?
How much should I write in an email?
Email is meant for quick,simple communication. As a general guide, that means roughly 4 or 5 paragraphs at most. Due to the limitations of formatting and layout, anything much longer than that is probably best sent as a separate attachment such as a Word file. Most people have a limited attention span with email – if they are receiving a lot of mail,you want to get the main message explained in the shortest possible space.
Do spelling and grammar matter in email?
Spelling and grammar do matter a lot in all communication, including emails. Poor spelling and grammar show a lack of attention to detail and send a wrong message about yourself and your ways of doing business. Most email programs today have built-in spell checkers so proof reading your mail be- 243 fore sending is not difficult or impossible.
What do cc and bcc mean?
There is a certain etiquette with email, especially in the use of the carbon copy (cc:) and blind carbon copy (bcc:) fields. It is courteous to add addresses to the ‘cc:’ field if those people need to know about the subject but are not required to act on the contents.
The ‘bcc:’ field is useful where discretion is required. People in this field are concealed from other recipients in the ‘To’, ‘cc:’ and ‘bcc:’ fields. They can themselves see others in the ‘To’ and ‘cc:’ fields but not the’bcc:’ fields.
Fig 2.2 CC Bcc
In this example, an email is sent directly to John by Bob. He copies Tom by including Tom’s address in the cc: field. Harry and Sue are blind copied – they can see who the original recipients were but Tom and John will not see their names.
What are plain text and HTML format email?
Plain text email is exactly that:plain. There is no formatting, using different fonts or colors. Email messages can only contain characters typed on a keyboard, known as the ASCII character set. Creative use of characters like ‘*’ and ‘+” can be used to highlight passages or create headings.
Most plain text email is written using a character set like Courier, which is a fixed width font (characters are all the same width). This is useful for perfectly aligning characters between rows,as shown below. Note the headings and separators in use here as well.
Fig 2.3 Plain text email
HTML email allows you to add formatting to your text as well as images or links using HTML code. Many online news letters are written in this format as they provide a visual medium and are pleasing to look at. The example below is the same message ass how before, including some basic formatting such as different fonts, colors and underlining as well as a hypertext link.
Fig 2.4 HTML email
So which email format should you use? Increasingly, email is being read on devices such as mobile phones or PDAs. Plain text email can be easily interpreted on these, whereas HTML email often will not display and is usually too large to download.
If you want your email to be readable at all times, plain text is the best option. It does not always look the best but it has other advantages as already mentioned.
What is a signature file?
Signature files can be attached to every outgoing message you send. This file usually contains contact details and other relevant information. If you are in business, you should almost certainly use an email signature in your communications. It is a great way to draw attention to products or services you offer and you are making yourself easier to contact as well. Other uses for an email signature include.
- Confidentiality statements
- Drawing attention to web site addresses
- Promoting a news letter
- Adding other contact details such as ICQ or AIM
Business and Workplace Email Etiquette
Email etiquette is often a commonly over looked part of the business and professional world despite being an important part of conveying a professional image. Emails written to friends and family will be less formal and will not need to follow any particular guidelines or rules, but when writing to someone at a professional level, the following guidelines and rules should be taken into account. Some important points in the email etiquette are mentioned below:
- Use a descriptive subject line. Avoid leaving it blank or putting an irrelevant or general subject.
- Address the recipient by name to add a personal touch to your letter.
- Do not use all caps
- Avoid over using punctuation marks
- Avoid using abbreviations such as IMHO (in my humble opinion) or TTYL (talk to you later). Everyone is not necessarily familiar with them.
- Skip a line when starting a new paragraph. Avoid using tabs to signify a new paragraph, different email programs read tabs in different ways.
- Avoid using HTML in your e-mails; everyone may not be able to view it and it takes away from the professional image of the letter.
- If you are sending an attachment, make a note of it and describe what the attachment is for in the body. Some people are very wary of attachments due to the threat of computer viruses.
- Keep your emails as concise as possible without leaving out any important information.
- Use minimum quoted text.
- Always leave a signature line. Do not assume the person already knows who you are.
- Do not keep on sending the same message to the same person repeatedly. If they do not respond after a few days, send them an e-mail inquiring if they received your first email.
- Use spell check and proof read and revise your letter after it is done
- Use threads. If you get a message from someone and you are going to respond,do not send a new message; simply hit the reply option on your email. This keeps the original subject line with “Re:” in front of it.
- If you are sending out an email to a large private list, do not use CC: (carbon copy);use BCC: (blind carbon copy) to protect the addresses of the recipients.
- Remember most emails are never completely private because there is always a chance of someone else besides the intended recipient reading it. Therefore, avoid any personal attacks which are any way unprofessional.
- When reading emails treat them as if they are private messages(unless you know you are allowed to share it with others).
When you receive a message, reply to it as soon as you have time.
Your e-mail is as much a part of your professional image as the clothes you wear, the postal letters you write (in case you do), the greeting on your voice mail and the hand shake you offer. If you want to impress on every front and build positive business relationships, pay attention to your e-mail and steer clear of the e-mail mistakes.
Omitting The Subject Line
We are way past the time when we did not realize the significance of the subject line. It makes no sense to send a message that reads “no subject” and seems to be about nothing. Given the huge volume of e-mail that each person receives, the subject header is essential if you want your message read sooner.
Not Making Your Subject Line Meaningful
Your header should be pertinent to your message, not just “Hi” or “Hello.” The recipient is going to decide the order in which he reads e-mail based on who sent it and what it is about.
Not Personalizing Your Message To The Recipient
E-mail is informal but it still needs greeting. Begin with “Dear Mr. Broom,” “Dear Jim,” Hello Jim,” or just “Jim.” Failure to put in the person’s name can make you and your e-mail seem cold.
Not Accounting For Tone
When you communicate with another person face to face, 93% of the message is non-verbal. E-mail has no body language. The reader cannot see your face or hear your tone of voice so chose your words carefully and thoughtfully. Put yourself in the other person’s place and think how your words may come across in Cyber space.
Forgetting To Check For Spelling And Grammar
In the early days of email, someone created the notion that this form of communication did not have to be letter perfect. Wrong. It does. It is a representation of you. If you do not check the correctness of even your mail, people will question the quality of other work you do. Use proper capitalization and punctuation and always check your spelling. Remember that your spellchecker will catch misspelled words, but not misused ones. It cannot tell whether you meant to say “from” or “form,” “for” or “fro”, 247 “he” or “the.”
Writing the great American novel
E-mail is meant to be brief. Keep your message short. Use only a few paragraphs and a few sentences per paragraph. People are not interested in lengthy details in a mail. If you find yourself writing an over bearing lengthy message, pick up the phone or call a meeting.
Forwarding E-mail Without Permission
If a message was sent to you and only you, why would you take the responsibility for passing it on. Too often confidential information has gone global because of someone’s lack of judgment. Unless you are asked, do not forward anything that was sent just to you.
Thinking That No One Else Will Ever See Your E-mail
Once it has left your mailbox, you can have no idea where your e-mail will end up. Do not use the Internet to send anything that you could not stand to see on a bill board on your way to work the next day. Use other means to communicate personal or sensitive information.
Leaving Off Your Signature
Always close with your name, even though it is included at the top of the e-mail and add contact information such as your phone, fax and street address. The recipient may want to call to talk further or send you documents that cannot be e-mailed. Creating a formal signature block with all that data is the most professional approach.
Expecting an instant response
Everyone is on always online with their emails open.The beauty of Internet communication is that it is convenient. It is not an interruption. People can check their messages when it suits them, not you. If your communication need to hear back right away, use the phone.
E-mail makes everything easier and faster including making a powerful business impression and establishing positive professional relationships. The business person who uses the technology effectively and appropriately will see the results of that effort.