14 common email mistakes to avoid: The complete guide

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Email is one of the easiest corporate communication tools to use. However, mastering the art of sending effective emails requires thoughtful consideration. It's crucial to avoid common mistakes that can directly impact the success of your message.

To help you navigate this sometimes tricky territory, we've put together a list of nine avoidable email mistakes to avoid. Before hitting that send button, make sure to familiarize yourself with these tips. They'll ensure your message is clear, engaging, and impactful.

1. Using the wrong tone

When crafting emails, it's crucial to consider the tone to ensure they don't come across as cold or impersonal. To avoid this common email mistake, pay close attention to the language you use and the way you address the recipient, especially when contacting them for the first time. It's important to maintain a professional and polite tone, avoiding slang or overly informal language that may not convey the desired level of professionalism.

Additionally, always remember to proofread your email before sending it to ensure it is polished and error-free. By taking these extra steps, you can make a significant difference in how your message is received and perceived.

2. Putting little thought into the subject line

Having a strong subject line is essential for achieving high email engagement. With workers receiving an overwhelming number of emails every day, a weak subject line can easily go unnoticed.

To avoid this common email marketing mistake, make your subject line concise and informative, accurately reflecting the content of the email. Avoid using generic subject lines like "Introduction" or "Greetings" as they lack specificity and fail to capture attention. Instead, use incentivized language to capture attention:

  • We connected at [Event] last night

  • Introduction for [Person 1] and [Person 2]

  • An email like no other today

  • Can you help us out?

3. Not addressing the recipient by name

When crafting emails, steer clear of generic salutations like "Dear Sir/Madam" or "To Whom It May Concern." Instead, personalize your greeting by using the recipient's name. This small touch can significantly enhance engagement and build a stronger connection. Maintaining a friendly yet professional tone elevates your communication quality.

If you don't know the person's name, find out what it is. This shows them you value their time and want to establish a personal connection. Addressing the recipient by their name demonstrates attentiveness and respect, setting the stage for engaging communication.

4. Overusing capital letters and exclamation points

Overusing capitalization or excessive exclamation points can convey an aggressive, rude, or desperate tone. This is especially crucial when sending emails with negative feedback or urgent requests.

Instead of relying solely on punctuation marks, employ appropriate language and an effective tone to convey your message. This means you'll maintain a professional image and prevent any misunderstandings.

5. Writing an email that's too long

Email is meant to be a quick and convenient form of communication. However, some individuals tend to write long, elaborate emails that can overwhelm the recipient. With the average worker receiving 121 emails daily, you’re wasting your own time writing lengthy messages.

To avoid this email mistake, keep your message concise and focused. Avoid rambling or excessive information. Instead, get straight to the main point while maintaining clarity. Assume the recipient is busy by making the copy as brief and straightforward as possible. Remove unnecessary wording, simplify sentences, and use bullet points if needed.

6. Sending emails when you’re angry or emotional

It's easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and fire off an angry or emotional email. However, this can have serious consequences. Instead of letting your emotions take over, it's best to take a step back and cool down before responding. You don't want to have to apologize for this mistake over email as it will come across as insincere.

If you must address a sensitive issue, try to use neutral language and avoid blaming or attacking the recipient. Remember, emails can be forwarded and shared, so it's important to consider the potential impact of your words.

7. Ignoring the formatting

The way your email looks can greatly impact its readability and overall effectiveness. By ignoring basic formatting such as paragraphs, bullet points, or bolded text, you risk sending a message that's difficult to read and understand.

Make sure to use proper formatting techniques to make your email visually appealing and easy to navigate. This will help the recipient quickly grasp the main points and understand your message better.

8. Not proofreading your email

Sending emails in a hurry is a mistake we've all made. It's actually one of the most common errors when it comes to email communication. However, each time it happens, it creates an impression of carelessness and unprofessionalism for both you and your business.

To avoid this, proofread your email before sending it. Carefully review for spelling and grammar mistakes, as well as missing information or incorrect wording. By taking the time to proofread, you make your message clear, concise, and professional.

9. Forgetting to attach important files

We've all been there; you hit that send button only to realize later that you forgot to attach an important file or document. It can be quite an embarrassing mistake to make, especially if the recipient is expecting it.

To avoid this email mistake, make sure you double-check and confirm all necessary attachments before sending. Taking this extra step will save you from having to send a follow-up email and shows that you pay attention to detail.

10. Using urgent email flags to get a recipient’s attention

Email flags such as "urgent" or "important" are often overused and can lose their impact. In fact, they may come across as manipulative or demanding if used too frequently. Adding a “high priority” flag when sending an email doesn't mean the recipient will action your request immediately. In most cases, it creates a false sense of urgency that can cause frustration and annoyance.

Instead of relying on flags, opt for direct communication and establish clear expectations for response times. This way, your urgent requests will be taken seriously without appearing demanding or pushy.

11. Not knowing how to use the To, CC, and BCC fields

When you send an email to multiple recipients, it's important to use the correct contact field:

To: These are the contacts you are directly emailing. Remember, everyone will be able to see the address of each recipient.

CC: Also known as "carbon copy" or "courtesy copy", this field indicates that the email is for informational purposes only. It's often used to keep people informed without directly addressing them.

BCC: Short for "blind carbon copy," this works similarly to the "CC:" field. The main difference is that all recipients' email addresses are not publicly visible. Use this field sparingly and only for multiple recipients who don't know each other.

12. Ignoring email regulations and best practices

Lastly, it's important to stay up-to-date with email regulations and best practices. This includes familiarizing yourself with data privacy laws, spam guidelines, and proper email etiquette.

From FISMA and HIPAA to CASL and GDPR, it's crucial every email you send complies with the recipient's country laws. A single email mistake here can lead to significant financial penalties. To address this, include an appropriate disclaimer in your emails.

Email disclaimers are required by law in certain countries in North America and Europe. For instance, in the UK, registered limited companies must include their registration number, address, and, if applicable, a VAT number in corporate emails. Failure to comply may result in a one-time fine of £1,000 and additional daily fines up to £100 until the issue is resolved.

13. Not following up when necessary

Sometimes, emails can get lost in a busy inbox or overlooked entirely. To ensure that your message is received and acted upon, it's important to send a follow up email if you haven't received a response within a reasonable timeframe.

A polite reminder email can make all the difference in getting your message noticed and acted upon. It also shows that you are committed to effective communication and value the recipient's time. Just make sure to avoid being pushy or aggressive in your follow-up email, as this can have the opposite effect.

14. Using an email signature you have designed

Very few businesses rely on individual staff members for brand compliance, including email signatures. Your perception of what's professional and on-brand may not align with your company's brand guidelines.

Personalized email signature designs, even when permitted, often end up as subpar personal electronic business cards. While altering your job title to something flattering but misleading may seem appealing, it can leave an unprofessional impression on external recipients.

That's why it's preferable for companies to have centralized control through the use of an email signature management solution. This way, you can solely focus on the email's content and delivery without worrying about brand compliance. It also ensures that every employee is using the correct contact information, legal disclaimers, and marketing banners in their emails.

Summary

Sending an email is more complex than it seems. Without proper planning, your email may be ignored or harm your reputation. By avoiding these common email mistakes, your emails will be more engaging, professional, and achieve your desired outcome. Take the time to proofread, use appropriate tone and formatting, follow email regulations and best practices when sending emails, and remember to always send a polite follow-up if necessary.

Finally, let Exclaimer handle your email signatures for consistent branding in all your corporate communication. With our centralized platform, you'll ensure that every email sent by your team is equipped with a professional signature that aligns with your brand guidelines.

Start optimizing your communications by avoiding common email mistakes. Get yourself either a free trial or an online demo today.

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Frequently asked questions about email mistakes to avoid

These FAQs aim to clarify common doubts concerning email communication, assisting you in avoiding key email mistakes.

Can I send an email without a subject line?

It's not recommended to send emails without a subject line as it can make your message seem unimportant or even lead to it being marked as spam. Always include a concise and informative subject line for better engagement.

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