Last week, a piece titled "It's Time to Stop Writing 'I Hope You're Well' in Emails" made its way around the web and got us thinking, we all could probably be doing a better job emailing these days. After all, between all the texts, Snaps and DMs, email can feel a bit outdated. But we all have to deal with it, so in order to help up your email game, we've rounded up some expert intel on the best practices. Heed this advice and you won't ever find yourself pissing off the boss, annoying your colleagues or buried under the weight of a reply-all email chain.
A good email is brief.
More and more people are reading e-mail on the go. Last year, nearly 68 percent of emails were opened on a mobile device. Which means that all the important information in your e-mail should be visible in one smartphone screen, which displays about one hundred words. If you don't think you can get everything you need to say into that 100-word threshold, or feel that you need to add in a lot of extra explanations to subtle ideas, that's a good signal that you should pick up the phone and call.
Try to curb the fake enthusiasm.
Just like the article we referenced before, you don't need a lot of forced pleasantries to start and end your emails. You don't need to add in unnecessary emojis (especially when you're not sure if the person you're emailing with is an "emoji person"). You don't have to be curt—starting out with a friendly "Hi" will suffice. And there's a whole movement against disingenuous sign-offs like "best" and "warmest regards." Experts now agree that you can simply end your emails without a sign-off.
The subject line is important.
Everyone gets more email than they'd like to receive. Which is why you shouldn't underestimate the significance of a descriptive subject line, says David McDowell, who served nearly a decade as a Yahoo! Mail VP. He suggests letting the recipient know what is expected of them by including such phrases as "Heads Up" or "Action Requested" right there in the subject line. The more specific, the better. For instance, when e-mailing a resume, he advises writing "McDowell Resume for Manager Position" in the subject line instead of simply "Resume."
There's a right way to make introductions.
Just dropping into someone's inbox trying to play matchmaker isn't the way to do it. Before you email, ask both parties if they're comfortable with an email intro. If you asked for the email intro, make sure to reply quickly, thanking the person who introduced you. Then make sure you remove the introducer from the email chain so they don't have to be privy to the ensuing back and forth and schedule wrangling.
Don't be a dick with your out-of-office reply.
We get it, you're going to be unable to get back to us, so letting us know is a good idea. So is including specific information about when you'll return and whom to contact in your absence. What's not necessary is a humblebrag about where you'll be vacationing or an attempt at humor. The joke might be funny once, but if your coworkers have to copy you on communication, that gets old really fast. Also, most e-mail clients have the ability to tailor an out-of-office reply based on the sender, which can come in handy providing the right level of detail to various contacts.
And watch the reply-all.
This one's an amateur move, but we can all make the mistake of absent-mindedly replying to everyone on a mass email. No one wants that, and you'll find yourself getting all sorts of "I didn't need to get this" replies as you enter Email Chain Hell. When you're replying to someone on a company-wide email, always remember to check that cc field before hitting send.