Whether you’re getting in touch with customers, vendors or other businesses, email can tell a great deal about you—and your self-storage facility. That’s because every email you send is a form of public communication, and it doesn’t disappear.
“Once it’s out there, it’s out there forever,” said Patricia Rossi, a keynote speaker on business etiquette and author of “Everyday Etiquette.”
Before you hit “send” on your next digital letter, follow these 10 tips from the pros to make sure your message sounds professional and reflects well on your self-storage business.
1. Focus on the subject.
“On any email, you should always include a subject line that is very specific to the message,” said Peggy Duncan, a personal productivity expert in Charlotte, NC.
This helps the recipient focus and increases the likelihood that the email will be read.
2. Start and end well.
To keep a business tone, begin with a greeting and the person’s name. Steer clear of informal salutations, such as “Hey,” especially if you don’t know the recipient.
At the end of the message, include a closing and your name. A few sign-offs to try: “Best wishes,” “Regards” or “Sincerely.”
3. Include a solid signature.
Duncan recommends listing your complete contact information in the signature line.
Along with your full name, add the name of your self-storage business. Include a link to your website and other ways to reach you, such as your facility’s phone number or your own cellphone number.
4. Show courtesy.
Especially if you don’t know your audience, “be as polite, clear and concise as possible,” said Lindsey Pollak, a millennial workplace expert and author of “Becoming the Boss.”
Take caution not to use too-casual language or abbreviations that some recipients might not appreciate or understand, Pollak said. For instance, leave out phrases such as “LOL” and steer clear of emoticons.
5. Don’t write a dissertation.
The organization of the email matters as much as the content, said Pollak, who also is a spokeswoman for The Hartford, an insurance company. “Most people prefer short paragraphs.”
If your first draft includes long blocks of text, try breaking them up into smaller sections. You also might add bullet points or numbered lists to make the information easier to follow.
6. If in doubt, wait.
“It’s better to wait until you can give someone a good, solid answer that will help as opposed to sending something quick just to wipe it off your list,” Duncan said.
Also, if you’re dealing with an emotional situation, consider a delay.
“When we’re upset, we’re not thinking in a rational manner,” Rossi said. So if you’re addressing a frustrating topic, “type it but don’t send,” she said.
Instead, wait 24 hours. This will give you time to think about what you want to say and to gather extra information.
7. Address confidential information correctly.
“Don’t just rely on ‘CONFIDENTIAL’ written in the email subject line or in the footer disclaimer of your email,” Pollak said.
Instead, start by explaining the confidential status. You might write, “Please note the information in this email is private and confidential. Thank you for your cooperation.”
Also, don’t discuss other issues in the same message. “Limit the email to the confidential information,” Pollak said.
8. Know when to meet or call.
Also, if the issue is complicated and email makes it more confusing, a phone call or face-to-face meeting might work best, Duncan said.
9. Be careful about jokes.
“Humor should only be used when you are 100 percent confident the other side knows you well enough to know your sense of humor,” said online consultant Judith Kallos, author of “Business Email Etiquette.”
To be safe, avoid sarcasm and don’t forward jokes from your business email.
10. Remember your digital footprint.
“We’re all a brand today,” Rossi said.
Your email communication is part of your overall online presence, along with your business or personal website as well as accounts like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Together, these create a platform that lets others learn more about you, Rossi said. As you leave an impression in the digital world, “keep it clean and pristine,” she said.