10 email etiquette rules every law office should know

By the book

Marketers and PR professionals in regulated industries like law have to navigate a complex quagmire of legal restrictions before pressing “send” on an email. Naturally, your law office follows email compliance laws like the CAN-SPAM Act and, if you’re emailing Canadian recipients, Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL). But what about email etiquette rules?

10 email etiquette rules

These rules of protocol don’t rise to the level of legislative action, but you should abide by them nonetheless to avoid alienating the people who’ve opted into your law firm’s emails. As you manage email for your firm, here are 10 fundamental etiquette rules to keep in mind.

1. Personalize your greeting.

Nothing says “we care about you” like launching into your message without a personalized greeting. Whether you use marketing automation or write emails personally, address your client or reader directly. And be sure to close with a signature.

2. Proofread every email before it leaves your law office.

You can’t expect clients to trust your law office with their complex and important business matters if your emails contain typographical or spelling errors.

3. Be mindful of the size of your email (and attachments).

Your email might bounce or might not load properly if you fail to pay attention to the message size limit for popular email services.

HTML-formatted emails with images or video embeds can get big fast. And remember, many users primarily open emails on mobile devices, so also be mindful of mobile size limits to ensure deliverability.

4. Use a subject line that indicates the true meaning of your email.

Don’t try to increase email opens or conversion rates by whipping up subject lines full of empty promises or misleading teases. Be direct and concise, and your compelling content will speak for itself.

5. Limit your calls to action.

This tip applies to both good manners and effective marketing. If you pack your email with links and offers, recipients will be paralyzed by choice, and will in many cases fail to complete any single call to action.

6. Use discretion when copying others.

Managing email lists should present no problem for firms using an email marketing tool like GoDaddy Email Marketing.

But remember that even the fact of legal representation would be considered confidential, so don’t copy multiple clients on the same email.

Email Etiquette Rules Confidential
Photo: Sir. Mo Flickr via Compfight cc

7. Watch your tone.

Unlike face-to-face interactions, in which people can read your expression and hear the way you say something, emails are largely devoid of social context. This can create the opportunity for misinterpretation (or even offense) if you’re not extra careful when choosing your words and determining your tone.

Ask someone else to read your email before sending (which is a good practice anyway for marketers). Ask them to tell you how the message made them feel: valued and respected, or not? In some cases, an email might come off as dismissive, distant, abrupt or otherwise rude, and you may not realize there’s a problem until the unsubscribes start rolling in.

8. Avoid slang, profanity and emojis.

Profanity is a no-brainer — avoid it at all costs. Slang and emojis are generally not in line with a law firm’s brand personality, but if your law office caters to startups or has a younger client base, you might want to experiment with a less formal tone.

Just make sure to have your emails proofread by a someone in the appropriate demographic.

 

No one wants to sound like a lame middle-aged parent trying to be “hip.”

9. Answer replies promptly.

This might seem unfair in light of the many requirements I’ve outlined here, but expected response times are getting shorter and shorter all the time: 50 percent of emails are answered within two hours.

Marketers need to monitor their inbox after sending an email blast in case people respond with questions rather than clicking the link or completing the call to action in your message. Don’t keep them waiting!

10. Pause before pressing “send.”

When in doubt, just remember: Few people have regretted a small delay in sending an email. But many have regretted hitting “send” too hastily. Dashing off an email in an endeavor to “newsjack” is ill-advised. As much as recipients value prompt replies, you don’t want to hit “send” prematurely and later regret it.

We all have our own pet peeves, so sure, there are probably more email etiquette rules we could add to this list. But if you abide by these 10 basics, there should be no objection (Sorry, couldn’t resist!) to your email.

Kerry Gorgone
Kerry O’Shea Gorgone is a speaker, writer, attorney and educator. She hosts the weekly Marketing Smarts podcast for MarketingProfs, and is also a contributing writer for numerous sites, including Huffington Post, Mark Schaefer’s {grow} blog, Social Media Explorer, Entrepreneur, Spin Sucks, and MackCollier.com. Follow her on Twitter @KerryGorgone.