Lean On Me I.T.

Business E-mail Fundamentals

Why you should care about your business Email

Email is a common channel for communication in business and first impressions are key. It is important that every part of your email comes across as professional to ensure that the receiving party is paying more attention to what you are trying to say than how you said it. Poor email communication can cost you customers while hurting your brand and reputation.

Use a business email solution and ensure the email domain matches your website

Often small business owners will use their personal email or a free account like Gmail or Yahoo. Although it may seem like an easy approach to kick off your business with a free email, the result is that some customers may struggle to trust your business. Having a proper business email address, with a domain that aligns with your company name and your website, instills a level of trust that you are a professional company. In some cases the size of your business is important to the customer as well, and having a professional email address awards you the opportunity to appear like a larger company than you actually are.

There are two key players when it comes to business email providers, Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace (formerly G Suite). Google is a popular option for small businesses looking to setup their own account, while professionals tend to recommend Microsoft 365 for businesses of all sizes. According to Gartner’s last market research on the topic, Microsoft had 87.5% of the email market share while Google held 10.4%.

Business email accounts are not costly and come with other benefits that will help your business be more efficient and productive. These business accounts allow you to use the same domain as your website ensuring that consistency customers are looking for. 

Protect your company with email threat protection

91% of all cyber attacks begin with a phishing email to an unexpected victim. Furthermore 42% of workers self-reported having taken a dangerous action (clicked on an unknown link, downloaded a file, or exposed personal/business data online). 

It’s more important than ever to be proactive in your company’s security and that starts with your email. No matter your email system, out of the box they do not provide any security.  They may offer very basic spam filtering, sending emails to a junk folder, but the goal is always to ensure delivery of everything, good or bad.  

Microsoft’s Defender for 365 allows you to stop email-based threats before they reach your device.  Microsoft Defender for 365 is included in some plans and available as an add on for others.  Once users have an applicable license, policies can be customized to help keep you safe.  Policy types include anti-phishing, anti-spam, anti-malware, attachment scanning & link scanning. Each of these categories allow for general customization, then utilize Microsoft’s global repository combined with artificial intelligence to determine what should be allowed vs what should be sent to junk or quarantine. In my experience this combination is considerably more effective than competing 3rd party systems like Barracuda and Mimecast.

Decide on an employee email address or a company email address

The name used in your email can also impact how someone perceives your company.  Before creating your email addresses, you will need to ask yourself what your customers prefer.  Some people prefer to work with an individual, so having an email address with the employee’s name may make sense.  Others may find comfort in working with a larger company.  In these instances, it may be better to make a company level, or generic email address like info@company.com or support@company.com.

You may also consider a hybrid approach where your primary outbound email is an employee level address, but you are able to receive emails from company level addresses as well.  In order to manage the expense, this can be done by creating an employee level as your primary then creating any company level emails as an alias or shared mailbox.

Use CC & BCC properly

When you are entering recipients into your email message, you’ll find three options: TO, CC & BCC (often hidden by default).  If you’re sending an email to more than one person, it is important that you utilize these properly.  

The TO field should be used for the primary recipient of the email.  If you are looking for a response, the To field tells the group of recipients who you are expecting a response from. 

The CC field, or carbon copy, is used to include additional recipients in your email so that they are informed, but shows these recipients that you are not expecting a reply from them.

The BCC field, or blind carbon copy, is used when you want to include additional recipients to keep them informed, but you do not wish for others in the email to be aware of their inclusion.  Recipients in the BCC field will not be visible to anyone else in the email. 

Use a campaign solution for sending bulk emails

If you are planning on sending an email to a large group of people, it is recommended to use an email campaign solution like Constant Contact or HubSpot. 

Sending an email to a large group of recipients without using a campaign solution puts you and your companies entire email domain at risk of being blocked for spam and/or blacklisted. 

This is especially important if you are sending emails for a newsletter or other reason where the recipients may wish to opt out.

Use a descriptive subject

The subject of your email will be one of the first things seen. Have you ever opened an email message based on the subject, and ended up completely confused and a little annoyed when it was about something entirely different? It is important that your subject provide an accurate representation of what you are looking to communicate.  Ensuring you use a quality subject, will allow your recipient to understand and prioritize what they are about to see, allow you to easily find the email in your records in the future and will reduce the chances of your email getting caught in someone’s spam/junk filter.

Keep your message focused

There’s nothing wrong with explaining things in great detail; it can provide clarity and reduce misunderstandings. But when an email message starts to look like a novel, you can quickly lose the recipient’s attention.

To avoid this, stick with one topic per email when possible. When you do need to include more information, use bolded sub-headings so the most important details are clear.

When possible, it may also be helpful to summarize the email first, then drill into the details.  This allows the reader to have an understanding of what you are asking of them and prepare themselves for the details to come. 

Review before sending

You’re probably thinking this is about spelling and grammar.  Those are very important, and you do need to read over everything to ensure you didn’t make a mistake, however you also need to consider the tone of the email.  It’s easy to let things fly when you’re sending an email, however some conversations can easily be misunderstood in email.  Take a moment and ask yourself if anything you have written could be misconstrued; if so, you may consider picking up the phone and having a verbal conversation. 

Include a professional signature

Adding a signature block at the end of your email increases the professionalism of the email, but it also provides an opportunity for you to share other relevant information with the reader.  However, it is important that you do not take it too far, a signature should be clean and simple.  Limit your signature to things like your name, title, alternate contact information and company website.  You may also wish to include links to one or more social media accounts but be careful not to make the signature too overwhelming.  

When it comes to formatting, stick to professional fonts.  You’ll want to avoid fonts like comic sans.  You may also consider adding some color to the text.  If you have brand colors, usually used in your logo, you may consider making the company name that color. Also consider both light and dark themes that exist in many email applications today.  Although a signature with dark colors may look good on your screen, they may disappear when read by someone whose email client is in dark mode.

Over the years, there has been a good deal of argument around whether to include images in your signature.  Best practices today say that you should avoid them unless you are designing the signature in HTML or using a 3rd party service.  This will result in a cleaner more professional signature and avoid other challenges that come into play regarding embedded images in email.

Closing thoughts

Email is an important method of communication in business, even if it’s not your first preference. Following these business email best practices will help you keep your email communication professional and productive allowing confidence that the impression you’re making is a good one.

Are you in need of a business email solution for your company? Email us at info@leanonmeit.com