13 Email Mistakes You're Making, And How To Fix Them

Sunday, August 16, 2020 New York, NY, USA

13 Email Mistakes You're Making, And How To Fix Them ASAP - Taylor Mead

Part of working in media, particularly as a writer and editor, means I receive endless emails from PR professionals, aspiring journalists, freelance writers, and more.

I love this part of my job, but as much as I wish I could open up and respond to every single one, I sadly don't have enough time in my week. Because of this, I've developed a list of things I look for in order to prioritize which emails I respond to daily and which ones get left unread until I find the time (or even deleted if I must).

Here are the 11 email mistakes I see most often and the quick and easy fixes you can make in order to catch your recipient's attention and increase your chances of a timely response.

1. You don't do any research on the person or company you're reaching out to first.

If you're reaching out to someone for the first time, whether it be for networking purposes, an interest in a job, a pitch, or whatever else, make sure you've done your research so your email is accurate and impressive. Remember: you want to make the odds of receiving a response as high as possible, so showing you put at least a little effort into the email is important and doing so starts with a little research.

2. You misspell the recipient's name.

Should you learn nothing else from this article, make sure the one thing you take away is this: you must double triple-check that you spelled the recipient's name correctly. Please! It's almost always (if not always) in their email. Not sure of the spelling because there's a confusing middle initial in the email address or something? Check their social media.

I'm serious. There's really no excuse to spell their name incorrectly.

3. You call the recipient the wrong name.

Like number 2, don't call them by the wrong name either. Yikes.

4. You accidentally CC people you meant to BCC.

Oftentimes this isn't a big deal, especially if it's an internal email for your company, but if you're sending an email to dozens of emails outside of your office and they're all visible to others, it doesn't look all that wonderful and you're accidentally sharing other people's email addresses with everyone. This is likely not a huge deal, but the most professional thing to do is use BCC whenever appropriate.

Here's how To, CC, and BCC work:

To: Recipients who are directly involved in the subject matter of the email. They are often the ones who need to respond or do something assigned to them in the email.
CC (carbon copy): Recipients who need to receive a "copy" of the email to stay in the loop, but aren't the ones directly involved.
BCC (blind carbon copy): Recipients who need to receive a "copy" of the email to be in the loop, but aren't the ones directly involved. The difference between CC and BCC is that others won't know those in BCC are receiving a copy, and those BCC'ed won't receive any responses to the email thread.

5. You forget a subject line or write one that's not eye-catching.

Subject lines are absolutely necessary if you want to have your email opened and read, especially if it's an email to someone you've never spoken to before. My best advice is to keep them short/to the point while clearly letting the recipient know exactly what the email's about.

TIP: Check out this article featuring 43 Cold Email Subject Lines That Get Your Emails Opened Instantly for some help writing the perfect subject line.

6. You don't proofread.

Most people won't read an email and think "Oh no, they spelled one word wrong," but if there are endless misspellings, grammatical errors, text lingo, etc, it's unlikely you'll get a response.

7. You don't include all of the necessary information.

No matter who you're emailing, make sure all of the necessary information is written in the email succinctly. The recipient won't go searching for more info, if it's not there for them they'll leave it marked as read and move on.
  • Who you are (if the recipient doesn't already know, of course)
  • What you are emailing about so they can give you the answer you need
  • Deadline, if there is one
  • Signature with appropriate contact info

8. You send the email at weird hours.

Emails sent at strange times will often get lost in the recipient's inbox and the chances of you needing to follow up will be higher. Instead, consider sending it during work hours. 

According to 14 studies analyzed by CoSchedule Blog:
  • The best day to send an email is Tuesday
  • The second-best day to send an email is Thursday
  • The third-best day to send an email is Wednesday
  • The best time to send an email is 10 a.m.
  • Other good times to send an email are 6 a.m. (for those checking emails when they wake up), 2 p.m., and 8 p.m. (for those checking emails before bed).
TIP: Use the scheduling tool available to schedule your email to be sent during the most ideal time.

9. You email someone's personal email instead of their work email.

There are a few scenarios in which it is appropriate to email someone's personal email address:
  • They are a freelancer or are self-employed and use their personal email address for work
  • They have subscribed to receive your newsletters
  • They are your friend or family member
If, however, these scenarios don't apply to the situation... don't email the individual's personal account. Do a little extra digging to find their work email — or don't email at all.

How do you do that? See if they share it on their social accounts, their personal website, or their LinkedIn. If all else fails, stick to messaging them on LinkedIn to ask for it.

HINT: if it's @gmail, @me, @outlook, @yahoo, @aol, or anything other than @theircompany... it's probably a personal account — unless otherwise specified.

10. You hit "reply all."

This circles back to our chat about "CC" versus "BCC." Not everyone who is CC'ed needs to receive your response to the email your boss sent out to the whole team. If you want your boss to know you received it, just hit Reply and spare the rest of the team's inboxes.

TIP: Use your best judgment. When replying to an email (especially a chain), think about who needs to see your response and only reply to that person or those few people. Nobody else will be offended, I promise.

11. You leave "Sent from iPhone" at the bottom.

If you want to at least pretend you didn't just whip up your email between going to the gym and picking up your go-to Starbucks drink, let's not plaster "Sent from iPhone" across the bottom of the email, alright?

12. You don't attach the appropriate files.

Reaching out about a job opportunity? Attach your resume and/or portfolio. Reaching out with a pitch idea? Send some previous examples of your work so they know your skills.

Regardless of what the email is about, make sure the appropriate attachments are there for the recipient to consider. If there are no attachments necessary for your email, you're in the clear on this one.

13. You follow up too often or too soon.

In my opinion, there's really no perfect way to follow up, but as long as you're patient and respectful, you'll be OK. The only real red flags I have for this one are:
  • If you follow up the same day and it isn't absolutely urgent
  • If you follow up several times in a short timeframe
  • If you are rude or pushy