Top 10 Email Rules for Virtual Assistants

Email Rules

Most of us spend a significant portion of our day reading and writing emails.  When it comes to building relationships between a virtual assistant and clients, communication is very important. The email rules listed in this post make sure that virtual assistants are meeting the needs of their clients in a professional manner.

Keep the following email rules in mind when communicating with any clients:

1. Know Your Client

People have different opinions about email, so it is always helpful to be aware of the expectations of your audience.

Do they want just one email a day with a summary of everything? Or would they prefer one topic per email? I personally find it more effective and less confusing to try to limit the number of topics covered in one message.

If you don’t know your client well enough yet, you may be confused about how to address them or how to sign off. The type of email you might feel comfortable sending to a millennial client might be different from one you’d send to a baby boomer. When in doubt, compose your message more formally to avoid offending them.

It’s also helpful to understand the form of communication that works best for your client. Generally, I find that email is the best form of contact with my clients. However, if a client insists on using the phone or some other kind of communication, I will do my best to accommodate their wishes.

2. Keep Email Brief and Easy to Understand

Keep your email as concise and to the point as possible. Use short paragraphs and bullet points to make your message easier to read. You want to avoid the need for sending more messages just to clear up any confusion.

If you mention a due date, be sure to highlight that information and make it obvious to the reader.

Sometimes it makes sense to combine several topics into one email. When this happens, keep things simple with numbered items. That way nothing gets lost for you or your client.

3. Make Good Use of Subject Lines

A subject line should illustrate the main point of your message. Subject lines with only one word like Question or FYI are not helpful and do not tell the reader what the email is about.

Even worse is sending an empty subject line. It is more likely to be overlooked by the recipient. Also, many email service providers will consider these messages as spam.

Some people think that if you have a very short message to convey, you can fit the whole thing into the subject line. I personally don’t recommend doing this with your client emails.

4. Don’t Forget to Add Any Attachments

Have you ever received an email stating that a document or other file has been attached, only to find it hasn’t? I’m sure you have as it happens often.

You should get in the habit of attaching the document first before you enter the recipient’s name. That way if you accidentally hit send before you attach the file, it won’t go anywhere.

You don’t have to worry about this if you are a Gmail user. Gmail has a built-in feature that will detect if you forget to include an attachment. It will scan the text of your email and show an alert if it thinks you intended to include a file attachment in the message but forgot to do so.

5. Create a Customized Signature

The closing is extremely important because it lets the reader know who is contacting them. When contacting others on behalf of your client, be sure to create signature lines for each one. Make your clients look good by having a company signature.

In addition, create a signature for all email you send on your own behalf. Using your name and company name will remind your clients and others of who you are and what you do.

I personally use and recommend a tool called WiseStamp to create multiple email signatures. I’ve created at least 8 different signatures with this tool and they are automatically added to my messages based upon the return email address I’m using.

6. Be Discrete With Personal Information

Remember, email is not confidential or as secure as you might want it to be. Always protect your client by using discretion when sending email.

Email is NEVER private! Keep in mind that your message could be forwarded on to other people without your knowledge.

Ask how your client would prefer to send sensitive information like passwords and credit card numbers. You might want to consider using a tool like LastPass. You can read more about LastPass as well as other tools that I use in my virtual assistant business on my Resources page.

7. Always Be Polite!

This email rule should go without saying. You should never say anything in an email that you wouldn’t say to a person in a face to face conversation.

Courtesy goes a long way to instilling goodwill and trust with your clients. Always say please and thank you in your emails. Be sure to frequently express your appreciation and gratitude to your clients.

Unless you’re on good terms with someone, avoid informal language, slang, jargon and emoticons. Over time I became really good friends with one of my clients. However, I still needed to treat her professionally during any communication in regards to her business.

8. Sometimes Email Fails to be Delivered

Don’t assume that your client got an important message from you just because you sent an email. Email does not always reach its destination. There can be deliverability issues. It could be rejected as spam or land in another folder. If you don’t hear back from your client in a reasonable amount of time, make a phone call to be sure the message was received.

9. Proofread Your Messages

Take a moment to review your email for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. It reflects poorly on your professional image if your message contains typos.

Some email programs include spelling and grammar checking tools. Be sure to take advantage of these tools. 

Read your message out loud before you send it. Does it say what you want it to say? Is there anything that could be misinterpreted?

If you’re writing something negative, have a trusted person read it and give you feedback. Better yet, sleep on it before you decide to hit the send button. Remember that email is forever!

10. Email Isn’t Always Best

One of the biggest sources of stress at work is the sheer volume of emails that people receive. Ask yourself if your message is truly necessary before you decide to send an email.

Sometimes it might be better to pick up the phone or use an online communication tool like Skype. This is especially true when difficult situations arise or you are dealing with questions that are likely to need some back and forth discussion.

Email is an amazing form of communication. I’m old enough to remember what it was like in the days before email arrived on the scene.  I’m thankful for this technology and enjoy the ease of communicating with my clients so instantaneously.

Can you think of any other important email rules I may have left out? If so, please share them in the comments section so others can benefit from your advice.

Email Rules for Virtual Assistants

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