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A Concise Guide To Replying to an Email Professionally

February, 2023
A Concise Guide To Replying to an Email Professionally

Email is a common form of communication for professionals. It's important to learn proper email etiquette. This can help you best respond to colleagues and clients and prevent miscommunication.

In this article, we discuss how to respond to an email professionally and provide examples of replying to an email in various situations.

What is an electronic-mail?

We have become so used to it that it became somehow habitual not to even think about it. But if we think for a moment about it ans ask ourselves a simple question, what is an email? Answer: Email is an electronic message exchange system used to send and receive messages over a computer network.

Additionally to the above, and historically, it was 1971 when Ray Tomlinson invented and developed electronic mail, as we know it today, by creating ARPANET's networked email system. The concept of nearly instantaneous communication between machines within an organization proved to be so beneficial and practical that the concept soon began to spread.

In 1971 electronic mail became a method of exchanging messages between people using electronic devices. Email was thus conceived as the electronic version of, or counterpart to, mail, at a time when "mail" meant only physical mail.

How is email sent?

Emails are routed to user accounts via several computer servers. They route the message to their final destination and store them so that users can pick them up and send them once they connect to the email infrastructure.

How is email received?

The receiving server accepts the message so that it can be delivered to the recipient. The recipient's email client retrieves the message using standards like the Post Office Protocol (POP) or Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) to download the message so it can be read.

How is email accessed?

Email can be accessed through an email client or a web interface.

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And how do we reply to an email professionally?

There exist several articles tutoring on replying to emails professionally. They're all right, to a degree, but we would like to take a stand that replying to an email shall follow the practice of awareness, as any other activity that requires awareness, conscience and understandable language. In any language awareness is what comes before mental paraphrasing which is based on habitual fitness of the whole human being. To a certain degree we can always feel safe when we stick to the point, but communication includes also rhetorical skills, as well as knowledge obtained by experience and the level of professionalism that we're communicating at. Definitely is that academic replies in emails will differ from direct marketing and sales pitches, the point being awareness is the key.

If it's for the business, stay in the business format

When responding to a professional email, it's important for you to use a business email format. This is a simple structure that allows for clear communication and organises information logically, such as separating different topics into separate lines or sections. It helps prevent miscommunication and demonstrates your respect for the recipient.

A professional email should include:

A subject line
A greeting
An introduction
Well-organised information
A closing statement
Your email signature

How to answer an email professionally

Follow these steps when replying to an email:

1. Review the email

Read the initial email carefully. Identify the most critical questions or requests from the sender. While it's important to reply to business emails quickly, check the email for any potential urgent requests or deadlines.

2. Start with a greeting

Begin your email with a polite greeting. Consider including a phrase, such as I hope you're well or It was nice to hear from you. If the sender included a greeting in their email, respond to that. For example, if they opened their email with Hello! I hope you enjoyed your weekend, you may reply with Hi! I had a great weekend, and I hope you did, too.

3. Reply to each question or concern

Draft your email by separating all topics into each section. Create a new paragraph each time you answer a question or address a concern. This helps the reader skim and understand the email easily to gather the most important information.

4. Ask for confirmation of understanding

Include a statement that asks for confirmation of understanding after the body of the email. You may also consider including your availability to further discuss matters. Some examples of phrases you may include are:

  • Please let me know if you have any more questions.
  • Does this answer your question?
  • I'm in the office today until 6 p.m. if you would like to discuss this further.
  • Let me know if I can do anything else to help you.
  • Does this make sense?

5. Add a closing statement and your signature

Finish your email with a closing phrase, such as Have a great day or Looking forward to your response. Add a sign-off statement, such as Best or Sincerely, followed by a comma and your email signature. Some organisations may have requirements for what to include in your email signature, but it's important to include at least your first name and surname. You may also consider including your company name, job title and work phone number.

A few tips for responding to an email

Consider these tips as you reply to your professional emails:

  • **Focus on the topic.** Include only the most important information in your email to ensure your message is coherent and easy to understand.
  • Follow up with the recipient. Consider sending a follow-up email if you haven't received a reply after a few days of sending your response.
  • Proofread your work. Review your email before you send it to ensure it's concise, understandable and free of errors.
  • Provide a timely response. Try to respond to professional emails as soon as possible, and strive to reply within 24 hours of when you received the email.
  • Send it to the correct person. Be mindful of choosing between the options to reply to one person or to reply to everyone included in the initial email or entering an email address to ensure you email the correct person.
  • Use a positive tone. Maintain a positive, friendly tone when replying to business emails to foster good business relationships.

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Professional email response template

Use this general template as a guide when you format your business emails:

Hello [recipient's name],

[Write a sentence to greet the recipient or respond to their greeting in the initial email.]

[Address the first topic or question.]

[Create another section to address the next topic or question. Repeat as many times as necessary.]

[Ask for confirmation of understanding.]

[Add a closing or farewell statement.]

Sincerely,

[Your name]
[Your job title]
[Your company name]

Examples of replying to an email professionally

Use these different examples of email replies as a reference when creating your own response:

Acknowledging a business email

Good business practice involves responding to emails within 24 hours. However, it may not always be possible to answer all questions or requests that quickly. Here's an example you may send to acknowledge receiving a request:

Hello Daniel,

I hope you're having an excellent day.

I wanted to confirm I received your request for an estimate for a new website. Please allow me until the end of this week to best research the project and prepare an accurate estimate for you.

Thank you for contacting me about your website and I'm looking forward to working on this project with you. Please let me know if you have any questions in the meantime.

Best,
June Ming
Project Manager
Excel Marketing Enterprises

Accepting an application

The hiring process requires maintaining consistent communication with applications. You may reply to or send original emails often. Here's an example of a response to accept a candidate's application:

Hi Mary,

Thank you for applying for the junior graphic designer position at Golden Marketing Agency.

After reviewing your resume and application, we believe you could be an excellent addition to our team. Do you have time this week to schedule a call to discuss this further?

We appreciate your initial interest in this position, and we hope you continue in the application process. Please reach out with any further questions you may have.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,
John Headhunter
Human Resources Manager
Hireground Marketing Agency

Declining an application

Similarly, handling the hiring process for an organisation may require you to send rejection emails. Draft a concise but polite email updating the candidate about their status. Here's an example of an email you may send rejecting a candidate's application:

Hello Mihael,

Thank you for applying for the financial advisor position at National Bank Company.

Unfortunately, we have decided to pursue other candidates at this time.

We sincerely appreciate your interest in our company, and we value the effort and time used for your application. We encourage you to watch for future career opportunities with our company.

We wish you the best of luck in your job search.

Best,
Diane Hunter
Human Resources Manager
Recursive Bank Company

Delegating tasks

Delegating tasks is important to ensure workplace efficiency. This may require you to accept or decline a responsibility depending on if your schedule allows for more tasks. Here's an example of how you may respond to an email about a task you don't have time to complete:

Hi Leonard,

I hope you enjoyed your weekend!

Thank you for contacting me about collaborating with you on the Central Coffee Roasters account. Unfortunately, I'm unable to take on any more projects at this time because of the demands of the Tasty Pet Foods account.

However, I believe Randall would be an excellent collaborator for this project. He was instrumental in the success of our Beautiful Teas account last year.

Would this work for you? Please let me know if I can help in any other way.

Best,
Samantha Lacrimosa
Account Manager
Visshuda Marketing

Sending an attachment

A customer or colleague may request you that share files with them via email. Consider saving this as a template to send easily and often. Here's an example of a response you may send when attaching a file:

Hello Lancelot,

Good morning! I hope you're having a good week so far.

As requested, I've attached a copy of your contract for you to review. Please let me know if you have any issues accessing the file.

Also, please let me know if you have any questions about your contract or account with us.

Best,
Michael McKenzie
Sales Manager
Sustainable Digital Advertising

Replying to a request for information

A customer or colleague may contact you with questions about a product or policy. Try to respond to these requests quickly and be sure to answer their questions clearly. Here's an example of how you may reply to an email about your company's product, service or policy:

Hi Lady May,

Thank you for contacting Dynasty Software Company. We appreciate your interest in our services.

Based on the information you provided, I believe our basic design program package would allow you to complete everything you need to. This package includes our signature photo editing, illustrating and document design programs.

We prefer to bill our services on an annual basis, and this can also save you 15% on your package. However, you do have the option to pay quarterly or monthly.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions. If you would like to set up a demonstration of how to use our programs, I would be happy to coordinate this for you. I'd also be happy to help you begin a free trial of our software.

Thank you again for your interest in our services, and I look forward to your response!

Best,
Leonard DeCaprio
Sales Representative
Lucrative Software Company

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How does then an email message flow from Sending to Delivery?

For most users, how an email message flows from the sender to a recipient’s inbox is something that happens behind the scenes. When an individual or an organization sends an email, the message travels from its point of origination, such as an email client where it was composed, across the Internet to its destination. Along the way, it passes through multiple servers that help ensure it arrives at the right place. That email message flow uses a systematic process based on a number of long-established technical standards.

It’s these standards that allow us to send email messages to virtually anyone. When someone sends an email message, it flows through a series of steps to reach its destination.

  • When an individual writes a message, it’s usually done in an email client like Outlook or Apple Mail—or in a web-based service like Gmail.
  • However, when the message is a transactional email like a shipping notice or a password reset, the message is created automatically by those systems, usually using an email API. (Marketing messages are generated by automated systems as well, although usually in large batches, rather than one at a time like transactional messages.)
  • In both cases, whether the message is created by an email client or by an automated system, it is specially formatted to be transmitted over the Internet using a standard called “Simple Mail Transfer Protocol” (SMTP) (Our service is called Pigeon).
  • The sender’s mail server (technically called a “Mail Transfer Agent,” or MTA) looks up the “@domain.com” portion of the recipient’s email address in a Domain Name System (DNS) server to determine which destination mail server (referred to as a “Mail Exchanger,” or MX) it should contact to deliver the message.
  • The sending and receiving servers communicate using the SMTP protocol. The receiving server accepts the message so that it can be delivered to the recipient.
  • The recipient’s email client retrieves the message using standards like the Post Office Protocol (POP) or Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) to download the message so it can be read.

How do email clients download a message?

Web-based email services like Gmail or Hotmail/Outlook.com use their own internal protocols to manage email. But when recipients use a stand-alone email client on a phone or desktop computer, that software uses standard protocols to download messages from mail servers.

When the recipient uses POP, the server delivers all new emails to them and only keeps copies of them if an option in the email client is checked, if applicable. If the server doesn’t have copies of the emails and the recipient suffers a hardware loss or failure, those messages are gone forever, unless the senders have copies of them.

When the recipient uses IMAP, the server syncs the contents of the mailbox, including its Sent Items and other folders, to each device that connects with it. The messages remain on the server, and when the status of one changes (for example, it’s read or deleted), that change propagates across all devices when they connect again.

The ability to retain and sync messages on multiple devices is why most email services today use IMAP instead of POP.

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