When time is money
Using email effectively can save you and your business time and money. We take you through the main benefits and give you tips on how to improve your service and efficiency levels.
Save time when corresponding
Use email for routine communications with suppliers, partners and customers, and you’ll save time and resources.
Better record keeping
Email makes it easy to store and organise your communications into different folders, as well as archive conversations in case they’re needed in the future. And there are no bulky paper files to store either.
Better customer service
You can meet and surpass your customers’ expectations by using email to answer their queries and complaints quickly.
Help the environment and your bottom line
Using email means less paper, reducing your costs and your carbon footprint.
Keep it as evidence
Emails can be a useful source of evidence should business dealings go wrong. As legally binding documents they can be used in court to protect you and demonstrate proof of an agreement, for example.
Free or paid email
Free email services like Gmail or Yahoo!† will give you an email address in the format of firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. But for a more professional address, use a paid service such as Microsoft Office Outlook or Google Apps for Business†, both of which let you use your website domain, giving you an address in the format of firstname.lastname@example.org.
The sign-up process
After choosing your provider, you’ll need to fill out a form and download any relevant software. Here’s what to look out for:
- Free email address – you'll need to provide your name, the country where you are based and possibly your date of birth. You can also decide on your email address, e.g. email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, and of course choose a password so only you can access your account.
- Paid email address – you’ll need to fill in a registration form and link your email to your website, so your address looks like email@example.com. This will mean contacting the company you use to host your domain name (mycompany.com). You may be able to do this yourself, or you might prefer to hire a professional web developer or IT specialist to help.
It's worth setting up an email policy so everyone in the company can adhere to some basic rules, making sure it is used appropriately. Here are some email etiquette tips:
- Timely responses – reply to customers’ emails as soon as you can, even if a follow-up email will be required to fully answer their query. The time it takes to respond will vary from a couple of hours to a couple of days, but the quicker it’s done the better. Reply to internal emails as soon as possible or according to the urgency of the request.
- Friendly but professional – unlike a face-to-face conversation, the reader can't hear your tone of voice or see your expression. So use polite and clear language that sounds welcoming and professional.
- Proper formatting – it’s good practice to start email conversations with a greeting and end them with a ‘thank you’, ‘regards’ or something similar. You can also add your business name, address and phone number to give the reader other ways to contact you.
Using the advanced tools available from most email providers can make your business communications more efficient and professional. Information on how to use them is usually found in the 'Help' menu.
Here are some of the most common:
- Out-of-office reply - create a message that's automatically sent as a reply to those who email you while you're away.
- Email signature - create a bespoke sign-off that appears at the bottom of all your emails, including your company logo and contact details.
- Use your email calendar - use your email's calendar to check your colleagues' availability and set up meetings that everyone can attend.
- Label and file your emails - file your emails by category and put them into named folders so you can find them easily at a later date.
- Archive emails - store important emails by archiving them for safekeeping. This reduces the amount of storage your email account uses without permanently deleting any items.
To keep your company's sensitive data secure, make sure you use email security tools. There are also some simple protocols you can follow:
- Don't click on attachments sent from unknown sources or that seem suspicious.
- Use spam filters and choose a security level to help block harmful links and email attachments.
- Make sure you change email passwords often.
- Sign in to your email using a trusted connection. Your home or company's Internet connection will be more secure than that at a café.
- Set up a password for sensitive files and documents before sending them via email - the receiver will need to enter it in order to open them.
†Please note that these are just examples of the types of email providers available and Lloyds Banking Group does not endorse the services they provide.