Unspoken Rules: What is Email Etiquette and Why Does It Matter?

What is email etiquette with say thank you tiles

Etiquette is like an unwritten rulebook for human interactions, ensuring you maintain politeness and communicate effectively at the same time. 

Nowhere is etiquette more important than in an interaction where you aren’t face-to-face with the other person — and one of those instances would be email. Email users across the world send almost 350 billion emails every day; in an age where people are bombarded with these messages, mastering etiquette can set you apart from the masses and make your campaigns not just effective but genuinely appreciated.

Let’s study the intricacies of email etiquette and go through guidelines that will make your subscribers think of you as an eloquent, gracious, and friendly email sender!



What Is Email Etiquette? 

Email etiquette, also known as email protocol or netiquette, refers to the established set of rules and guidelines for proper and effective email communication. It encompasses a range of principles that help individuals and organizations convey messages professionally and respectfully. 

These guidelines cover aspects such as the appropriate use of subject lines, the tone and formality of language, email structure, and considerations for privacy and security. Adhering to email etiquette is essential for both individuals and businesses, as it ensures messages are clear, courteous, and well-received.


Good Email Etiquette: Why It Is Important

Email etiquette is particularly important in a professional environment where clear communication is crucial to conducting business smoothly

Now that we know what is proper email etiquette, let’s look at its benefits:

  1. Professionalism: Using proper email etiquette demonstrates professionalism and respect in your digital interactions. It reflects positively on your personal or business image, which can be crucial in professional settings.
  2. Reputation: Consistently using good email etiquette can enhance your professional reputation. People are more likely to respond positively to emails from individuals or organizations that communicate effectively and respectfully.
  3. Clarity: Following email etiquette guidelines, such as using clear subject lines and well-structured messages, ensures your emails are easily understood. This reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings and miscommunication.
  4. Efficiency: Well-crafted emails, with concise and relevant content, save time for both you and your recipient. Good email etiquette helps streamline communication and increase your productivity.
  5. Respect for recipients: Being courteous and respectful in your email communication shows consideration for your recipient’s time and attention. It can help build and maintain positive relationships.
  6. To escape spam filters: Proper email etiquette reduces the chances of your emails being flagged as spam by email service providers. This ensures your messages reach the intended recipients’ inboxes.
  7. Cybersecurity: Email etiquette practices, like being cautious with attachments and links, help protect against phishing and malware attacks. Following these practices contributes to cybersecurity.
  8. Reduced miscommunication: Clear and considerate email communication minimizes the risk of misinterpretation or confusion, leading to more effective information exchange.

In summary, good etiquette helps you maintain professionalism, clarity, and efficiency in email communication. It contributes to your reputation, respects the recipient’s time, and helps ensure privacy and security. 


Distinction Between Personal, Workplace, and Marketing Email Etiquette

Email etiquette varies for personal, professional, and marketing emails due to the different purposes and contexts of these email types. Here’s how they differ:

Type of EmailDefinition
Personal emailsThese emails are typically informal and used for communicating with friends, family, or personal acquaintances.
Professional emailsThese emails are used in a business or work context, and they require a higher level of formality and professionalism.
Marketing emailsThese emails are designed for promotional and advertising purposes, targeting a larger audience to generate sales, engagement, or brand awareness.
Types of emails and their definitions

Let’s expand on these email types below so we understand the differences between them:

  • Personal emails: Email etiquette for personal emails is more relaxed. It may include the use of informal language, emojis, and a friendly tone. Content can be more personal and may involve sharing personal updates, photos, or anecdotes. There may be less emphasis on strict formatting and subject lines.
  • Professional emails: Email etiquette for professional emails demands a more structured approach. It includes using clear and concise language, a respectful tone, and proper grammar and spelling. Subject lines should be informative, and the message content should focus on business-related topics, such as work assignments, inquiries, or collaborations. It’s essential to address recipients with appropriate titles and maintain a professional signature.
  • Marketing emails: Etiquette for marketing emails involves crafting attention-grabbing subject lines, delivering engaging content, and complying with email marketing laws, such as including an unsubscribe option. Marketers often use persuasive language, visuals, and CTAs to encourage recipients to take specific actions, like buying a product or signing up for a newsletter. Timing and frequency of marketing emails are also critical considerations to avoid overwhelming subscribers.

The key differences in email etiquette for personal, professional, and marketing emails lie in their tone, content, formality, and the specific goals they aim to achieve. 


Email Etiquette for Senders: The Basics

Before we get into detailed sections on getting email etiquette right in your campaigns, let’s talk about the basics.

These are things you need to get right, as part of basic decorum.

  • Don’t use incorrect names: Addressing your customer by the wrong name in a marketing email should be avoided at all costs; it undermines personalization, erodes trust and credibility, damages your relationship with the customer, and negatively impacts your brand’s reputation. This will affect your engagement rates, annoy your customers, and may even lead to unsubscribes or spam reports.
  • Greet correctly: Get your salutation right. Personalization captures the recipient’s attention and creates a connection. It also signifies professionalism and respect, setting a positive tone for your email. Depending on the content of the email and your brand tone, choose between formal and casual greetings.
  • Get right down to business: Once your customer opens your email, you have only a few seconds to capture their interest. Starting with the core message or offer ensures your primary value proposition is front and center. It minimizes the risk of your audience losing interest or becoming distracted before they even grasp your message. Additionally, it respects their time and delivers immediate value.
  • Correct grammar and punctuation: Using perfect grammar and punctuation conveys professionalism and directly impacts the clarity and effectiveness of your message. It ensures your readers understand your content and presents your brand as reliable and credible. Additionally, well-structured sentences and punctuation help maintain the flow of your message, making it more engaging and persuasive.

With these basics in place, let’s move on to other must-dos you should follow to nail email etiquette. 


Proofread Your Emails

Proofreading is a habit you must build as an email marketer — no two ways about it.

First and foremost, it ensures your message is free from embarrassing and potentially costly errors, such as typos, grammatical mistakes, or incorrect information. An email devoid of errors conveys professionalism and attention to detail, which can positively influence your brand perception. 

It also helps you maintain clarity and coherence, ensuring your marketing message is easily understood and persuasive. Another benefit is that well-written and error-free emails are more likely to be opened and read by your recipients.

While proofreading has clear benefits, not proofreading can lead to just as many issues. Errors tend to stick out like a sore thumb and create a negative perception of your brand. Imagine sending out the wrong discount code or promoting a product that is out of stock — proofreading helps to avoid these kinds of errors. 


Subject Line: Get It Right

47% of recipients open emails based on how convincing the subject line is. A great subject line compels readers to read your message and learn about your offers.

From an etiquette perspective, writing a clear and concise subject line in your emails is crucial because it respects your reader’s time and attention. A well-crafted subject line provides transparency, enabling your recipient to quickly understand the email’s content and purpose

It helps them make an informed decision about whether to open and engage with the email or not. This level of respect for your recipient’s time will be greatly appreciated. It differentiates your emails from spam messages, which usually have misleading or clickbait-style subject lines that can be perceived as disrespectful or inconsiderate. 

Always keeping your subject lines clear and to the point can create a positive perception of your brand and its communications. Whenever possible, personalize your subject lines by using the recipient’s name or other relevant information. This can make your emails more relevant and engaging.


Use a Professional Email ID 

This one’s important! Always use a professional email address — and allow your readers to reply to you. Using a professional email address and domain name has many advantages;

let’s look at the biggest ones below.

  • Credibility and trust: A professional email address (For example, yourname@yourcompany.com) conveys trustworthiness and credibility. It reassures recipients that they are receiving communication from a legitimate and reputable source, enhancing their confidence in your brand.
  • Branding: When was the last time you bought something from someone who sent you an email from their Gmail account? Yup, that’s what we thought. A custom email address that includes your company’s domain reinforces your brand identity and professionalism. It serves as a branding tool that reminds recipients of your organization.
  • Consistency: Using a professional email address ensures consistency in your communication, aligning with your brand’s image and values. For example, referring a customer to an email address on a different domain just makes your business look bad.
  • Deliverability: Emails sent from generic or unprofessional email addresses may be more likely to end up in spam folders. A professional email address can improve email deliverability rates, ensuring your messages reach recipients’ inboxes.
  • Legal compliance: Using a professional email address helps you comply with email marketing laws and regulations, as it provides a clear and traceable sender identity, which is required by many anti-spam laws.

As you can see, using a professional email address is not just great etiquette, it’s also the logical choice. It’s an integral part of maintaining a strong and reputable email marketing presence.


Careful With the Humor

Your friends might love your sarcastic jokes and your social circle may think of you as an extremely witty person, but email marketing is where you let that funny side go. Because the last thing you want as a sender is to wake up one morning and see your company trending on X (formerly Twitter) for a joke made in poor taste! 

But this is an extreme scenario; let’s look at why good email etiquette dictates you be cautious with humor.

Firstly, your email recipients come from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives, making it essential to recognize that what’s funny to one person may not be to another. Inappropriate or offensive humor can alienate or even offend some recipients, potentially leading to negative perceptions of your brand.

Moreover, humor can be easily misinterpreted in written form, as jokes, sarcasm, or wordplay may not come across as intended, resulting in confusion or undesirable reactions.

Secondly, it’s critical to consider your brand image and values when incorporating humor in marketing emails. Humor that doesn’t align with your brand’s identity can harm your image and create inconsistencies in your messaging. Overusing humor can also make your emails appear unprofessional, potentially affecting your company’s reputation. 

Additionally, there are legal and ethical concerns to navigate, as humor that inadvertently crosses boundaries or makes questionable claims can lead to complications. A bit of light-hearted humor is always welcome — for example, emails with Halloween puns or industry-specific humor. 

While humor can engage and entertain, it’s imperative to use it thoughtfully, ensuring it enhances your message without overshadowing it or causing unintended consequences.


The Biggest Error in Email Etiquette: Reply-All

Ah, this email feature has a long history of getting people in trouble! But here’s why using the reply-all can be a significant mistake in email marketing. 

Firstly, it poses a privacy risk as it exposes the email addresses of all recipients to one another. This violation of privacy can erode trust and lead to concerns about data security. Recipients may perceive it as a breach of their personal information and be wary of further communications. Also, it means your email list is now accessible to a lot of people — that is years of effort someone could steal.

Misuse of reply-all can also lead to a loss of control over your marketing message. These messages can easily veer off-topic or drift into discussions unrelated to your campaign, diminishing the clarity and effectiveness of your original message. Additionally, reply-all messages can be highly disruptive, especially in large email campaigns, cluttering recipients’ inboxes and potentially causing frustration.

Beyond these concerns, reply-all messages also require time and resources to manage, diverting your attention and efforts from more essential tasks; this makes it the biggest mistake to avoid as an email marketer!


Poor Design or Formatting

Email etiquette demands your email be readable, as a bare minimum. And if you don’t use fonts sensibly and format your emails correctly, it can be a messy affair for your readers. 

Let’s talk about your email’s visual appeal. Aesthetically pleasing emails with well-chosen fonts and organized formatting are more likely to capture your recipient’s attention, inviting them to delve into your content. Consistency in font and formatting also reinforces your brand identity, allowing recipients to instantly recognize your brand. Clear fonts and appropriate text sizes enhance readability, ensuring the content is easily consumed without causing strain.

Font and formatting create a hierarchy and emphasize key elements, helping direct the recipient’s attention to essential information and CTAs. Structured formatting, including headings, bullet points, and spacing, contributes to message clarity and enables your recipients to quickly grasp the main points. 

Ensuring mobile responsiveness, where the email adapts to various devices and screen sizes, is imperative in reaching a diverse audience. And lastly, professional formatting underscores your brand’s attention to detail. 

To conclude — the right design, readable fonts, and correct formatting in marketing emails tell your customers you care about getting the message across efficiently. That’s etiquette!


Don’t Forget Your Attachments

Forgetting attachments when sending out marketing emails can make you appear careless and can erode the credibility of your brand. It suggests your communication lacks attention to detail, which then raises doubts about the reliability of your products or services. 

It can also inconvenience your recipients, as they expect to access valuable information within the attachments. Moreover, it can lead to confusion and back-and-forth emails as you rectify the omission, which can frustrate your subscribers and negatively affect their perception of your company.


Your Signature: The Last Piece of the Puzzle

We’re now at the last step — the signature. You should always wrap up your emails with a signature, and just signing your name won’t suffice; work on your sign-off until it adds value for your reader. They will appreciate it!

Simplicity and consistency are key. Your signature should include essential contact information like your name, job title, company name, and direct contact details. Your signature should also reflect your brand’s visual identity, so it’s a good idea to add your company logo and possibly a tagline. 

Including social media links in your signature can encourage your recipients to connect with your brand on different platforms. Ensure you test your email signature to verify it’s mobile-responsive and looks good on different devices. 


How Campaign Refinery Helps Clients Practice Email Etiquette 

As you can tell from the steps above, email etiquette is something you can only fix yourself.

But we have all the tools we offer our clients to make the task easier:

  1. Segmentation tools: Thanks to our powerful segmentation tools and the tag system, Campaign Refinery clients never make the mistake of accidentally sending irrelevant content to their readers. Simple list controls also ensure personalization details are spot on, no matter how complex the campaign!
  2. Email editor: Our primary goal when creating our email editor was to keep things simple. We succeeded at doing this, which means our clients can proofread emails, make copy changes, add details, organize images and graphics, and ensure responsive design easily before they hit that send button.
  3. Automation and sequencing: Worried about sending too many emails or even irrelevant emails? That’s not something we are familiar with at Campaign Refinery, since our automation tools and email sequence editor help clients create email mechanisms that are strategic and error-free. Using our platform gives them an aerial view of campaigns, ensuring they control communication with great accuracy.
  4. Security implementation: At Campaign Refinery, we require all our clients to use security protocols like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC on their domains. This translates to high brand trust scores for our clients — when subscribers see their emails arrive with proper authentication, they are more likely to trust the content and take desired actions, such as opening links or downloading attachments.

With these steps in place, we’re confident that you can build a strong and trustworthy relationship with all of your subscribers


Tackling Email Etiquette When Reaching Out to New Leads

Email etiquette is crucial when reaching out to potential leads who have shown interest in your business through lead magnets. When a user provides their email address in exchange for a lead magnet, your initial email should follow proper etiquette. This includes a polite and well-structured introduction that acknowledges the user’s interest and sets the tone for further interactions.

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Join the course to learn how to create irresistible incentives that captivate your target audience, boost your email list, and drive conversions. With expert guidance from our founder, Travis Ketchum, you’ll learn the art of crafting compelling lead magnets that not only attract but engage your prospects, transforming them into eager, loyal customers.

While it will turn into a paid course shortly — for now, it’s COMPLETELY FREE. As long as you finish the course in seven days, you can retain access to it for life.

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