Best Practices for Your Business E-mail

E-mail is a key component of our daily business. Like any powerful tool, it can be used and abused. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get the most from your company e-mail.


The e-mail signature is the digital equivalent of company stationary. Establishing a company-wide e-mail signature is a great way to promote your business and to extend your company’s professional identity. At minimum, an e-mail signature should include your name, company name, business address and website. It can also be used to inform your clients of upcoming events or to gently promote products or services. Despite the allure, remember that an e-mail signature is your business letterhead, so keep them short: five lines or less. You should also avoid any large or complicated graphics attachments in your signatures, as this can be flagged by spam filters or quickly fill up e-mail inboxes and sent boxes.

Be Professional

There are plenty of suggestions available on e-mail etiquette so we’ll try not to go there, but it warrants mentioning. We often e-mail too casually. Proper spelling, grammar and capitalization will reflect well on your business. The spelling and grammar tools available in your e-mail and/or word processing program can assist with this. The tone of your business e-mail should always remain professional. Business e-mails are a relatively permanent record of your correspondences, and it is important to think of their impact when they are viewed in posterity.

Be Efficient

While the actual text of even the longest of e-mails will not take up much data space, it is often the attachments that you include with e-mail messages that warrant some care and consideration. There are two scenarios relevant here: e-mails sent within the company and e-mails sent to an outside address.

Let’s first consider attachments for internal company e-mail. Suppose you’ve created an Excel sheet that you want to share with five members of your staff. Don’t just e-mail that Excel sheet! By e-mailing that document, you’ve just created five additional copies! If any of the copies get edited, you now have several different versions of the file floating around your network. Instead of e-mailing the actual file as an attachment to your colleagues, it is more advisable to simply e-mail them the location of the file on your network. If you e-mail the “path” or location of the file to your co-workers, you can ensure everyone is on the same page, as well as save valuable data space on your company’s e-mail system.

Regarding mail sent to recipients outside of your company, it is even more important to understand how big the attachment is. This is because the flow of e-mail has to not just bypass filters contained within e-mail programs, but separate sets of spam filters and firewalls that act as checkpoints where large e-mails may potentially be blocked. E-mails less than 10MB are fine if you are sending them to only one user; anything larger you should reconsider. You should check the file size of the attachments before sending. If you are mailing to multiple recipients, even a small attachment can cause you problems, quickly filling up your sent box. For large files to be distributed to one or several intended clients, consider using an FTP server instead.

Spam: No Thank You!

Spam is an ever-growing problem and comprises a significant portion of all email traffic. Cyber City clients receive the benefits of our mail filtering service. At Cyber City, we do our best to keep your networks spam free. By having a spam filter in place, you will spend less time sifting through undesirable mail, and more time with being able to quickly respond to incoming business mail.

It’s also important to avoid becoming a spammer, however inadvertent it may be. Internet Service Providers frequently block mail from sources they deem to be suspiciously putting out overly prodigious amounts of mail, putting them on a spammer blacklist. If you need to send e-mail to a very large number of recipients, it is best to supplement your company e-mail system with a bulk e-mail service which is trusted and immune to such blacklisting.

Protect Yourself

Don’t e-mail sensitive information such as credit card and social security numbers. E-mail is generally not encrypted and is too easily forwarded.

Refrain from using your business e-mail address for personal use and don’t add your e-mail address to mailing lists without considering the consequences. Many sites and companies will share your information with other companies resulting in an increase of unsolicited e-mail.

By limiting your e-mail exposure to only the essential contacts needed, you’ll be able to help protect yourself against cybercrimes such as hacking and identity theft.

Stay Organized

The primary cause of slow e-mail performance is an overflowing inbox. Treat your inbox as its name implies; as a location for new e-mail to be received. Ideally your inbox should only contain “hot” or “action” items. After taking care of the business related to a particular e-mail, move it to an mail archive folder or delete it. Once your inbox only contains “action” items, you’ll realize how your mail client can help to keep you focused on the tasks at hand.

Regarding deleted items, treat the virtual trash bin as you would a real world trash bin… it doesn’t empty itself! Make sure to empty your trash bin, usually by right-clicking the trash icon and selecting the command.

Dean Lentzemail, IT basics