Saturday, September 25, 2010

The PetsitUSA Blog

The PetsitUSA Blog

Email etiquette: professional or dufus?

Posted: 24 Sep 2010 12:58 PM PDT

email communication can be used a marketing tool for pet sitters to make them look more professionalI’ve had this post partially written for a while, but considering today is National Punctuation Day, I thought today was the perfect day to finish it up and post it. Yes, it’s about punctuation (don’t fall asleep yet!) but it’s actually about more than that.

I’ll start by showing you the text of an email I got recently:

“i like ur websit how do i use it.”

That’s it.

There was no “Dear PetsitUSA,” “To Whom it May Concern” – not even a simple hello. There was no further clarification of what he or she wanted, and no name signed at the end …nothing. Just, “i like ur websit how do i use it.” And of course, there’s the lack of punctuation, grammar, capitalization…and the list goes on.

Aside from the fact that the site is pretty easy to figure out, I had no idea if this person was:

  • looking for a pet sitter.
  • a pet sitter interested in becoming a member.
  • another pet related business wanting to advertise.
  • somebody who had an entirely different question!
  • just trying to be annoying.

My first inclination, when I get emails like this, is to hit the delete button. My thought is that people who write emails like that don’t really care how they appear to the person reading their email. Then I remind myself that not everyone is all that particular about using proper grammar, punctuation, spelling, full sentences, etc. in emails. People who write emails like the one above may have a legitimate question, but simply lack any sense of online etiquette.

In this case, I wrote back, in a professional manner, and asked for more information, including a name, so that I could properly answer the question. It turns out that it was a pet sitter who wanted to become a member, but admitted she didn’t take time to look around the website. All she did was click on the contact link, and send that cryptic email.

I’m somewhat of a fanatic when it comes to using email for business related matters. I feel that it’s important to be professional. After all, it’s a reflection of you and your business. If a pet care “professional” can’t write a decent email, and pay attention to details like grammar and spelling, it makes me wonder if he or she really is all that professional. Will she pay attention the details of caring for my pets? I just don’t know. And let’s face it, as a professional pet sitter, managing details is a job requirement!

Here are my recommendations on how to write a professional email:

Use proper punctuation and grammar
These things do matter, so pay attention! Write in full sentences, using proper grammar and punctuation. If you need some help with the rules, visit the Lynch Guide to Grammar or Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab. I’m not saying your punctuation and grammar have to pass a test, but at least try to get things correct.

Use proper capitalization and spelling
PLEASE DON’T WRITE IN ALL CAPS or all lowercase. Either one is difficult to read, and ALL CAPS is equivalent to shouting. Do you really want to shout at potential clients? (OK, there may be times when you do, but don’t!) And for goodness sake, use a spell checker!

Texting abbreviations
Texting has become a common way to communicate and along with it, the texting abbreviations. If you simply can’t help urself, wait 4 your client 2 start using short cuts before u do. And please, keep it to a minimum!

Say hello
When you start an email to someone, acknowledge them with a simple “Hello Joe” or “Dear Joe” (assuming you’re writing to a guy named Joe, of course!). Don’t just start right in. That’s like calling someone and blasting out with whatever it is you have to say without bothering to say hello.

Sign your email
At the end of your email, please sign your name. Don’t make the recipient play a guessing game trying to figure out who you are. It’s especially rude to email someone asking for something and not sign your name. And on the other hand, if someone takes the time to write and ask you if you’re available for a pet sitting job, write a decent email. Instead of:

yes, i’m available

write something like this:

Hi Joe,

Yes, I’m available and will be happy to take care of Fluffy for you. Please call me at 555-1212 to make arrangements.

Thank you,

Perseus the Pet Sitter

Some of these points may seem like boring, unnecessary details to you, but if you ignore them you’ll risk looking like an uneducated dufus to many. It only takes a few seconds to write a proper email but it will go a long way in creating a professional image. And believe it or not, the way you present yourself in an email may be what gets you your next pet sitting job - or not!

Pet sitters are always looking for free ways to market their business, so think of this as part of your overall pet sitter marketing plan. You can use it to look more professional – or like a dufus. Please choose professional!

(note to me: be sure to use the spell checker on this before hitting the publish button!)

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