I send and receive hundreds of emails per week. How about you?

Email is a hugely popular method of communication in today’s workplace. That’s why I’m always surprised at how many people screw it up!

Poor email practices can lead to confusion and miscommunication. They can also lead to unhappy employees, angry customers, and lost business if the problem goes far enough. Today, we’re going to cover five important pieces of “Email Etiquette” that too many business owners get wrong. How are you doing in these areas?

1) Use a descriptive subject line. Sending an email with no subject, or with a vague subject line, is a bad practice for two reasons. First, you’re losing the opportunity to make the right first impression. When you’re dealing with a client or a prospect, this is a big deal. And secondly, if you don’t use a clear and accurate subject line, it will very difficult to find the email you’re looking for in a search at a later date. If you’ve ever spent hours digging through your folders in search of a specific email, you know exactly what I mean! Also, be sure to update the subject line if the subject changes as the email thread evolves.

2) Make sure your tone is appropriate. Your tone matters – and it should be appropriate for the relationship you have with your recipient. Joking around and using “LOL” in your emails would not be appropriate for the vast majority of your clients. In addition, using sloppy abbreviations like “U” instead of “You” isn’t wise in most cases.

3) Be careful with large attachments. Think twice before sending a large attachment (larger than 1 MB.) Large attachments can take a long time to download and can cause computer issues for your recipient. It’s usually better to use a program like DropBox orYouSendIt if you’re sending large files to a customer. They’ll appreciate it!

4) Don’t “Reply All” unless the situation calls for it. Don’t hit “reply all” if you don’t need to, because cluttering up a number of individuals’ email inboxes amounts to a big waste of time. The practice can also lead to large “chain emails” that are confusing and very difficult to act on.

5) Create a system to ensure you aren’t forgetting to respond to important messages. Finally, are emails “falling through the cracks?” If you’re failing to respond to customers, prospects, or employees… bad things will happen. Perhaps it’s marking messages as “unread” until you have time to respond. Perhaps it’s jotting yourself a note or setting a reminder on your phone. Whatever the case may be, make sure you’re not forgetting about important messages!

We all use email just about every day. Make sure you (and your employees!) are using it right.