Guest Post – How Formal Should Your Emails Be?

This post is part of a series of guest posts authored by popular bloggers and internet business consultants. Today's guest post is written by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for

The way you conduct yourself and your communication around clients largely depends on who your clients are and what types of feelings you want them to associate with your business. And, by types of feelings, I am referring to the most subtle differences possible. Of course you want customers to view your products and marketing positively, but amidst these general feelings you also have the opportunity to draw closer connections to your audiences or have a more distant yet authoritative appeal. All of this is done through tone.

Deciding What Your Clients Want or Expect

Client expectations can be determined by a variety of things. Some of these things, such as industry standards of communication, are out of your hands. However, most industry standards are there for a reason; if you operate communications for a debt relief company, you might not want to crack jokes every other sentence. But if you are communicating within a relatively new or tech-savvy industry, you can take some liberties.

Of course, the way you brand your company, design your website, and write your homepage content has a huge effect on the way your clients perceive your business. If you are going for a polished, sleek look, you might want to stick with catchy slogans and clever statements. If you have a looser, more creative feel to your business, you should aim to be quirky and take more stylistic risks and opportunities.

People Like Reading Things From Other People

Whether or not you intend to come off as friendly (informal) or authoritative (formal), I strongly advise you to appear human in your marketing emails. For companies going for a friendly approach, this should come fairly naturally. You can use jokes, informal expressions, and extensive use of the exclamation point (but do not go overboard!). If you are going for a friendly company aesthetic and can’t manage to come off as human in your correspondence, hire a better writer.

For more formal, authoritative companies, trying to appear human can be a bit more difficult. You want people to relate and trust your company, but you don’t want to sacrifice your sleek and authoritative brand. The best way to achieve this delicate balance is to utilize very clever, highbrow (but not too highbrow) language. This way you can be playful while still maintaining a formal demeanor. Apple has been doing this for a while with snappy slogans and pun-filled launch teasers (like the recent “Let’s talk iPhone” announcement that launched the iPhone 4S and Siri, the voice-activated iPhone 4S assistant).

Resonate With Your Clients’ Emotions

Despite Apple’s clever and intelligent marketing appeals, the company makes incredibly warm emotional appeals as well. Remember, just because you want to appear as an authority in your industry does not mean that you have to market to clients while void of any emotion. Of course, you want to be in control of the emotions you are intending to open up and you also want to stay positive (i.e., focus on life, rather than death). Using emotional appeals requires a delicate balance of authenticity and restraint for it to actually work. If you oversell the appeal, clients may perceive you as a deceptive marketer. But if you undersell, the appeal may have no effect.

Keep It Simple

While this last point doesn’t have much to do with formalities, it is simply too important not to mention. Particularly when you are trying to take risks with a more informal or emotionally appealing message, try not to get caught up in the message. While it is great to appear human to your clients, you must always remember that your message cannot be as complex as humans. Use subtlety where you can to add a bit more depth to your messages, but definitely don’t force a series of run-ons to complete an overly-complicated message that will ultimately be lost in translation.

About the Author
Lauren Bailey regularly writes for best online colleges ( She welcomes your comments at her email Id: blauren99

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