Each day, the average office worker receives 121 emails in their inbox.
This means that when you send a professional email, your email is competing with an average of 120 others each day for the attention of your recipient. In order to win this attention and earn trust in you and the contents of your message, it is imperative that your message is mistake-free and stands out as a well-written professional email.
We’ve compiled a list of seven common professional email mistakes (and how to avoid them) so you can gain your recipient’s trust.
7 common professional email mistakes
- Imperfect spelling/grammar
- Unnecessarily long emails
- Improper use of “reply all”
- Sending to the wrong recipient(s)
- Bad subject lines
- Flagging every email as “urgent”
- Vague requests
Common email mistakes and how to avoid them
With so much of everyday professional communication taking place over email, it is essential to your professional status to make sure your email is clear, concise, and as mistake-free as possible. Here are some common mistakes to look out for and avoid in your professional emails:
1. Imperfect spelling/grammar
The most important mistakes to avoid when sending a professional email are also the most common types of mistakes. Spelling and grammar mistakes immediately diminish your intellect and professionalism in an email, and are easily fixed with careful proofreading before the email is sent. You can also cut down on spelling and grammar mistakes with a web extension or other AI writing assistant software to ensure that your email is of a professional standard.
2. Unnecessarily long emails
Professional emails should be as clear and to the point. Think of every sentence you write as essential to capturing the reader's attention and getting what you want out of the email. Make sure every sentence is critical to the message you are trying to get across in your email, and you’ll avoid the common mistake of a long email with unnecessary filler sentences that wastes the reader’s time.
Shorter emails increase the chances of holding the reader’s attention for the entirety of the email, instead of elaborating too long on a particular aspect of the message and risking losing them in the interest of time or boredom.
3. Improper use of “reply all”
We’ve all heard tales of the dreaded accidental “reply all,” when an email response that is aimed for one person in particular ends up going to an entire team or company. To avoid including unnecessary recipients (and potential embarrassment), make sure to check the others that received the email and make sure that you are sending your reply to the correct recipient(s).
4. Sending to the wrong recipient(s)
Before sending a professional email, especially one with confidential information, ensure that the email is being sent to the correct recipient or recipients of the information you are communicating. Double checking the recipients of your email is an easy task before sending your email that can help you avoid the potentially costly mistake of sending your email to the incorrect recipient.
5. Bad subject lines
Your subject line should be attention grabbing. With the amount of emails a typical office worker receives in their inbox everyday, your email will be competing for the attention of your recipient, and the most visible distinguisher when these emails are piled in an inbox is the subject line. Try to make your subject line appealing by making it either shorter than the average email subject line, but still communicate what might be in the email.
Related: Gain some inspiration from these best email subject lines before you go to draft your next email.
6. Flagging every email as “urgent”
Mail platforms have a helpful flag icon that can be toggled to mark certain emails as “urgent.” A key mistake that many make when sending professional emails is marking emails that aren’t necessarily urgent as so, clogging up the inbox of the recipient with emails that dilute the true urgent nature of emails that actually need to be marked this way.
Wanting a quick response is typically not the only grounds required to mark an email as urgent, and a non-urgent email marked as so could alienate your recipient rather than motivate them to provide a quick response. Before marking an email as urgent, think about the message you are communicating in the email and how important it actually is for it to reach your recipient and influence action.
7. Vague requests
A common efficiency in professional emails is when the key message or request being made is not made clear in the email’s body. When writing the body of your email, make sure the central point you’re trying to get across is made clear to the recipient, whether that is information to be communicated to a team or a request.
Try to phrase every aspect of your message as clearly as possible without using unnecessary jargon. Make it explicitly clear what you want your reader to take away from the email as well as any next steps they will need to take. The goal of a professional email is to communicate information or a request as quickly as possible. Inefficient or overly didactic phrasing only takes away from the ability for your email to accomplish this goal.
Avoiding these common email mistakes will ensure that you maintain a professional voice and get intended results from your messages to clients and colleagues alike.
Still interested in more tips on professional emails? Check out this step-by-step guide on how to write a professional email.