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5 Tips on How to Write a Professional Email for Doing Business Online

Writing an email is not hard.  But writing a professional email can be tricky.   Everyday day, I am surprised to see how many people don't know how to write in a professional way.  As an example, this email I received a few days ago:


I have no idea what you are talking about, I forwarded this to Mary in our ACME office.


Supervisor, Corporate Accounting

In the text, I changed the names with fictional ones, but the content is exactly as received.  Let me give you some background information regarding this email.  This comes from a contact in a rather large company.  Before receiving this email, I had to send two emails to this person, the second email being a reminder that I didn't receive a reply to my first email.  When I received this reply a few days later, I could not believe what I was reading.  This was the first time that I received a message from this person.  This person really needs to read my tips about writing professionally!

Tip 1 - Respond in a timely matter

The number one tip is to write back promptly.  I always try to reply my email in less than 1 hour, even when I have a very busy day.  Why?  Because it shows that you care.  The recipient will think that you are putting him in priority.  If you don't know the answer to a question asked, simply reply saying that you will look into it and then do a follow-up once you have the answer.  The reason is to let the person know that you acknowledge his email. To do business online, this is the most effective advice and will probably win you many customers over your competitors.

Tip 2 - Greet the recipient with respect

Never start your email with "Hey".  I am amazed to see this in some emails I receive from perfect strangers. Stop it right away; this is not professional.  Your email should always start with a greeting including the name of the person.  For example, "Mr. Smith," can be okay but I don't use this way as it sounds too formal.  However, if the person contacted you first and used "Mr." or "Dear", then it is recommended to greet the person with the same formality.  For some countries, "Dear John," is used, so adapt your greeting based on your recipient.  If you know the recipient's first name, use it.  For example, "Hello John," is simple but effective.  Avoid "Hi" as it sounds too familiar. 

Tip 3 - Thank the person for contacting you

Before writing anything else, make sure to thank the person for contacting you or replying to your email.  My first sentence after the greeting usually is "Thank you for contacting me." or "Thank you for the reply."  Although this can sound repetitive, always include it in all replies you do.  The reason is that it shows that you appreciate that the person took the time to write you.

Tip 4 - Use correct punctuation

If quality is in little details, then punctuation in your emails is.  Correctly use punctuation and capitalization, even if you think it's just a short email and that it's not necessary.  Something as simple as "Hello John" (without an ending comma) already tells me that the level of professionalism is not there. Start your sentences with an uppercase and end with a dot.  Treat each email as a text you would write for a book.

Tip 5 - Conclude your email

Just like a nice introduction is required, a nice conclusion to your email also is.  Don't just write "Thanks".  First, add a sentence asking the person to get in touch if he needs more information.  Something like "Let us know if you have more questions." will show your openness to this recipient and he will likely contact you back if needed.  Then, add a greeting like "Best regards," just before the signature.  I don't recommend using "Regards," alone; instead use "Kind regards," for a more personal reply. 

So now, if we take my email example and adapt it based on those tips, we get the following:

Hello Benjamin,

Thank you for contacting us.  Unfortunately, I am unaware of the issue you mentioned.  For that reason, I have forwarded your inquiry to my colleague Mary in our ACME office.

Let me know if I can be of any additional help.

Best regards, 

Supervisor, Corporate Accounting

This email sounds much more professional than the original, doesn't it?  Start applying those tips on your emails and you will be more successful with your online business.