Trying to figure out the best way to start an email?
How you start an email plays an enormous part in how your recipients perceive your message. As a result, there are tons of dos-and-don’ts to consider when you’re starting an email.
In this article, I’ll show you exactly how to start an email in a way that creates an impact on the recipient.
I’ll highlight what email introduction you should stick to, what you should avoid during email writing, and even some tips to write the perfect business email.
Here’s what this article contains:
- Why does the beginning of your email matter?
- Four email greeting lines you should never use
- How to start a professional email
- Five tips for writing the perfect email
- The best email companion you can use in 2020
Let’s dive in.
Why does the beginning of your email matter?
Emails are generally considered a more “formal” method of communication today. So it’s important that you create a good first impression when you contact people through email, especially when you reach out to a potential client or a prospective partner.
A good email with a strong opening sentence helps you create a professional impression that shows your message is worth the recipient’s valuable time. This way, there’s a far better chance your recipients will actually read the entire email and respond.
Four email greeting lines you should never use
Have you ever received emails that began so awkwardly that you didn’t bother to go through the whole thing?
Before we get into how you can start an email, let’s look at a few lines you shouldn’t use as email openers:
1. To whom it may concern
This greeting is seen as too stiff and vague to be used in a business email. It also gives the impression that you were too lazy to find out to whom the email message should have been addressed.
As you would when writing a letter, try to find out the person’s name before you send your email. Alternatively, opt for a warmer opening sentence.
For example, let’s say you’re emailing company X regarding their job application, and you can’t find the name of an HR team member. Instead of using “To whom it may concern,” try using something like “To Team X” or “To the Hiring Manager at Company X.”
Also, avoid using opening lines like “Good morning” or “Good afternoon.”
This has two problems:
- You didn’t bother to find out the recipient’s name.
- There’s no guarantee that they will open the email at the intended hour, especially if they are in a different time zone.
2. A misspelled name
Would you be thrilled about interacting with a person who’s careless enough to misspell your name?
A misspelled name is up there with the worst greeting you could write. Always double-check your emails to see if you have the correct spelling of your recipient’s name. If the person’s name seems complicated, just copy and paste it from a good source.
However, if you’re not confident about the correct spelling of the name, remove it and stick with a greeting like “Hello.” This is somewhat rare, but might happen at events where an attendee gave you a company or team email on a piece of paper, rather than hand you their card.
Although this might be considered an impersonal opening, it’s always better than a serious breach of email etiquette like misspelling a person’s name.
3. Dear sir/madam
Like “To whom it may concern,” this email greeting is a stiff and often ceremonial salutation reserved for a formal setting. Also, it shows you didn’t bother to check on the recipient’s name.
While this greeting is still used in formal letter-writing in countries where men and women are still called “sir” and “madam,” it doesn’t really suit an email. Instead, stick to the recipient’s name or another greeting like “Hello.”
4. An informal greeting
While there are several informal salutations that are acceptable in certain professional greetings, a straight-out casual greeting is not encouraged in business email.
This includes any informal greeting like:
- Hey Buddy!
- Hi Guys,
Correspondence through a professional email address is not the same as a Facebook or Twitter DM. The use of a nickname, exclamation point, or an informal salutation can make you seem unprofessional and should be reserved for informal emails and social media.
However, it’s important to note that there are offices that encourage such a casual culture.
While you may communicate with your work colleagues in a casual manner internally, be mindful of any external business correspondence you send to clients, prospects, or anyone with a professional email address, as they may not have the same work culture as you do.
It’s always safer to stick with a simple and slightly formal greeting when you start your emails.
How you should start a professional email
Starting a professional email always differs from what you’d do in a personal email. Here are a few tips on how to start a professional email.
1. Dear (Name)
This greeting is appropriate for formal emails. If you’re sending out something like a cover letter, or addressing a person in a position of respect, you can use this greeting.
For example, you can say “Dear John” if you’re addressing a business partner. Or, if you’re writing a cover letter, you can address someone using their last name, like “Dear Ms. Blair.”
Always avoid honorifics like “Mrs.” that imply someone’s marital status. But always use traditional honorifics for professional status, such as “Dr.” or “Professor.”
If you don’t know the person’s gender (or gender preference), you can’t determine whether to say Ms. or Mr. So what should you do? That depends.
- If your recipient is your age or younger and does not outrank you professionally, you can open with “Hello Taylor” in countries where informality is common, such as in the US.
- However, if your recipient is in a country where formality is common, such as India, and you do not know their gender, you can use a full name, like “Dear Taylor Santiago,” in an email to a professional email address.
However, it is always preferable to look up the person’s details to find their preferred identity.
2. Hello, Hi, and Hi There
These greetings can be used in different ways.
The most popular version is a simple “Hi (Name).”
This greeting is usually appropriate for a personal email or business email unless it is a very formal email.
You can also change the greeting to “Hello (Name)” to make it more personal.
Or, use a term like “Greetings” when you’re sending an email to a business email account and don’t know the recipient’s name. For example, “Greetings” is an appropriate opener when you’re sending a professional business email to a business email address like support@(company-name).com.
Although the term “Hi there” is often used when sending out mass emails to newsletter subscribers, people are more likely to read an email message when you mention their first name instead of a generic greeting.
3. Hi everyone
When you’re addressing a group, it would be way too awkward to list everyone’s name in the greeting. So, to start a professional email to a group of people like your work team, “Hi everyone” is a great way to open an email.
Avoid gender-specific terms for groups of adults such as “Hi Gentlemen” or “Hi Ladies,” as these can be controversial in the workplace, depending on the surrounding culture.
Five tips for writing the perfect email
Knowing how to start a professional email is important, but that’s not everything you need to do to make your emails great.
Let’s take a look at some tips that will help you write the perfect email:
1. Choose your style
Before you write an email, consider who your recipients are. This will help you choose your salutation and whether you should follow a formal or informal tone.
While many businesses used to communicate through a formal style of writing, contemporary companies and startups prefer a more casual and friendly business writing approach. This is because a formal style of writing emails can seem stiff and unfriendly.
But how do you know when to switch to a less formal style?
Look out for these indicators that tell you when to switch styles:
- When all the emails you’ve received from the other party are less formal.
- When a recipient directly tells you to use their first name instead of Mr. or Ms.
- When they address you by your first name, or sign their emails using only their first name
You can also use an informal style when you know the recipient well, as it would be awkward to address a close colleague or friend using honorifics.
However, if you’re contacting them for work, keep in mind it’s not a personal email, so you’ll have to use a tone that’s somewhat professional.
2. Be mindful of your first sentence
Many people make the mistake of writing a boring or unimpressive first sentence.
Just like the greeting, the first sentence of your email message determines whether your recipient will read your email or ignore it.
An ineffective opening sentence in your email usually drives the recipient away. So don’t be afraid to dive straight into the point with your opening line. People love an effective email that is direct, as it shows that you value their time.
If you have a mutual contact with the recipient, start your email by referring to that person or organization. This could help your email develop a connection with your recipient sooner. But then get directly to the point of your message.
3. State the purpose in the subject line and the body of the email
Would you rather read an indirect email or an email that gets straight to the point?
It’s always a good idea to state the purpose of your email when you start writing it as it allows the recipient to get a clear idea of what to expect.
Remember to keep your sentences short since people like emails to be as clear and brief as possible. To maintain a professional image, you should also check for any spelling or grammatical errors before sending your email.
4. Remember to thank your recipient
Usually, when you’re writing a reply to an inquiry, you can start with something like, “Thank you for contacting us.”
However, most people don’t realize the importance of thanking a recipient in outgoing emails too. Not only is thanking your recipient a polite gesture, but it also increases your chances of getting a reply.
Once you’re done writing the body of the email, be sure to add in a line at the bottom thanking your recipient.
5. Add a closing remark
Your closing remark can just be a simple thank you or something additional like, “Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any concerns.”
This is usually followed by an appropriate sign-off, such as “Best regards” or “Sincerely,” etc.
While it is tempting to add this sign-off to your automated email signature, it’s best not to do so. Embedded your parting phrase in the signature panel is impersonal and therefore tells your recipient you don’t send genuine or sincere regards. For the same reason you start with a personal opening, close with a personal sign-off at the end.
However, avoid using a closing with a casual term like “Cheers” unless you are good friends with the recipient.
To learn more, check out this article we wrote on how to close an email.
The best email companion you can use in 2020
Learning how to write perfect emails can boost your email engagement rates — but it isn’t enough to make a substantial difference by itself!
For that, you need to use the best email marketing tool you can find.
And that’s where GMass comes in.
What is GMass?
GMass is a popular email marketing software that allows you to send mass email campaigns to a target audience. It’s used by employees of big tech companies and social media platforms like Uber, Google, Twitter, and LinkedIn for their email marketing campaigns.
But GMass isn’t just meant for tech giants!
Entrepreneurs, churches, SMBs, and individuals can use GMass to send their email marketing campaigns straight from their Gmail or G Suite account.
With GMass, you can:
- Send cold email campaigns to a target audience.
- Schedule your emails and follow-ups.
- Customize each email individually.
- Track how your recipients interact with emails.
- Set up custom domains for tracking.
But that’s not all!
Anyone can sign up and start using GMass. Just add the Chrome extension to your browser, and you’re ready to go!
Four useful GMass features
Here are four reasons why you should use GMass for your emails:
Recipients rarely engage with emails unless they’re personalized. If your email looks like a generic email template, they’ll probably ignore it.
But don’t worry — GMass can automatically personalize all of your emails! GMass allows you to send custom email messages with personalized text, images, links, and attachments for each email.
It also has a feature that auto-detects recipients’ first names from their email addresses and adds them to your emails, one by one.
The best time to send an email is when a recipient is about to check their inbox.
But how do you take advantage of that if your recipients are scattered across different time zones?
Simple. Use GMass.
GMass can help you schedule any email you create. Just type it, schedule it, and let GMass take care of the rest!
Want to send an email campaign to hundreds of email addresses? But do you worry about manually adding them to your email?
Don’t worry, GMass has you covered!
GMass has an automatic email list builder that makes contact list building super easy. Just run a search in Gmail for a relevant keyword, and GMass will instantly create an email list from the emails you’ve sent or received that contain that keyword.
Your recipients might not always reply to your initial email — especially a cold email.
This is why it’s essential to send out follow-up emails to get a quick response from your recipients.
GMass can help you automate these follow-ups, so you don’t have to worry about them.
GMass makes it easy for you to customize:
- When to send the follow-up email
- What to include as the message
- The time gap between each email
- How many follow-ups to send.
Worried that all these features mean that GMass is a super expensive email marketing service?
Nope! It’s not!
GMass is one of the most affordable email marketing tools you can find:
- Free plan: includes all features + provides free email tracking for up to 50 emails per day.
- Individual plans:
- Minimal: $8.95/month – supports all functions except automatic follow up email + provides unlimited email tracking.
- Standard: $12.95/month – removes the GMass footer from emails and provides all “Minimal” features.
- Premium: $19.95/month – supports all “Standard” functions + automatic follow up email.
- Team plan:
- Premium: starts at $89/month for small teams of five members – supports all perks and features.
How you start an email plays a big role in whether recipients will respond to your email or just ignore it.
That’s why it’s important to follow the tips I mentioned in this article to ace your email opening and craft the perfect email.
But the perfect email alone isn’t enough.
You need to pair it with a powerful tool like GMass.
With loads of features to improve your email workflow, why not give it a try today?
Ajay is the founder of GMass and has been developing email sending software for 20 years.