Sending Better Emails in Your Massage Business

Email has been around for a gazillion years and almost everyone in the business world uses it on a daily basis.

Email is useful for a lot of things. It can make life easier or more difficult depending on how it's used. You may find yourself emailing with referral partners and potential clients often.

Email etiquette is a big deal to me. Is it because I'm a persnickety stick in the mud? Probably. But email is is such a core component of our daily lives that I can't help but be concerned when it's used in a less-than-ideal way.

Better communication leads to better outcomes (and less hassle) so let's turn to email to see if we can set some guidelines on how to use this tool better. Here are some ways:

Use a real greeting and closing.

It can feel outdated and hokey, but using Dear So-and-So to open an email is classy, especially if you've never communicated with that person before. If you already know each other, Hi So-and-So is okay, too. 

The same applies to a closing, old-fashioned is okay, especially for a first interaction. Sincerely, Thank you, and Thank you for your time, are all solid closing for a professional email. 

Stick to one topic per email.

Do you ever receive email messages that have a bunch of requests jammed into one message? Within one message, someone is asking you to create a report, make a phone call, do some research, and solve a problem. What's worse, it's all jumbled together in one big paragraph.

This is stressful! A lot of people treat their email inboxes like a todo list. When you jam multiple "todos" into one message, it creates a sense of overwhelm and pretty much guarantees that your message will get put on the back burner in favor of messages that are easier to deal with.

If you you need more than one thing, put each thing into its own message so they can all be tracked separately.

If you must put multiple items in one email, use a numbered list.

Yes, sometimes it really does make sense to put multiple things in one email. In these cases, use a numbered list for clarity. Put each question or todo on its own line preceded by a number. This adds clarity and makes it easier for the recipient to process it.

Don't switch topics in mid-thread.

Do you ever notice how sometimes you will send a few emails back and forth, you'll resolve an issue, you think it's all wrapped up, but then the other person will reply with a totally new question? Or maybe you're not even done with the original topic (you've set back an "I'll get back to you" message) and the other person replies with something new anyway!

This is confusing. Don't do it. And if it happens to you, be proactive and answer in a totally new email, with a proper subject line.

Keep your email format simple (preferably plain text).

I know it's tempting to put all your social icons and your company logo in your email signature but this just adds junk. It can also create a jumble when files are attached because the images you attached look like another attachment.

Create a useful email signature.

You can do this in the settings feature of your web-based email service, or if you use Outlook or another program on your computer, you can do it there.

Include your full name and business name, phone number, and website. It may be appropriate to include your office address as well. Be sure you set up identical email signatures on your computer, mobile device, and in your online scheduling system. Consistency maintains a professional look.

Make your subject lines descriptive.

Vague subject lines are the pits. Instead of "question" try using more specific subject lines like:

"Need your thoughts on XYZ (will take 2 minutes)"

"Can we meet tomorrow about XYZ?"

"Discussion about XYZ"

Notice how descriptive these subject lines are? How useful!

If you are communicating with another healthcare professional do not put a clients name in the email subject. In fact, many practitioners do not use email because it is not secure and private, so consider if your first interaction should be a phone call and not an email. If it is established that email is acceptable, use the client's first name and last initial only (or whatever you have decided when talking).

Don't email when you should call.

If your email is more than a few sentences, call or schedule a quick meeting. Sucking someone into a big email thread about a complex topic is a waste of everyone's time.

Related to this, if an email thread keeps going after a few replies, pick up the phone or move it to a meeting.

Don't call when you should email.

On the flip side, don't use the phone for detailed, syntax-sensitive information. For example, if you need to send a lot of specific documentation to someone or you are working on a massage research article and have a bunch of technical questions, this is probably better started as an email rather than relaying technical information over the phone. That leave plenty of room for error or incorrect translation from voice to ear. Email it so the other party can copy and paste or use the data easily.

There you have it. Go forth and polish up your email habits. Your recipients will thank you for it.

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