With over 300 billion emails sent and received every day, email is an essential means of communication. Figuring out how to start a business email in a professional way – especially when you’re writing to someone you don’t know – can be a challenge for marketers, salespeople, and customer service reps alike.
In fact, how you start your email can make the difference between your recipient closing the email right away (and deleting it) or reading on. The following article provides a few tips on how to start an email along with some of the most common email greetings and email starters you can use in your business correspondence.
Start with an appropriate greeting depending on how formal you need to be. Always include the recipient’s name (if you know it) to make the greeting more personable. Last but not least, double-check that you’ve spelled the recipient’s name correctly. Our pro tip? Copy and paste their name as seen in previous emails, email signatures, or websites to ensure you don’t make a typo.
When writing to someone for the first time, introduce yourself and include a concise sentence about the goal of your email. This sentence can determine whether the recipient will read your email or ignore it, so make sure your purpose is clear and convincing.
If you have mutual friends, colleagues, or acquaintances, mention them as this can increase your chances of getting a response. For example, you could do a subtle name drop like this: “Hi [Name], I ran into our mutual friend Richard (from [Company]) over the weekend and he mentioned that you needed a new help desk tool, as your current provider just isn’t cutting it anymore…”
If you haven’t written to the recipient for a long time or if you have a casual relationship with the recipient, it would be appropriate to include a quick, positive note like “I hope you’re doing well.” This can set the right tone for the rest of your email.
Alternatively, if the recipient has shared some updates on LinkedIn or other social media, feel free to congratulate them on their latest achievements (both personal and professional). You could say something like “Congratulations on your promotion” or “Congratulations, it’s exciting to see [Recipient’s Company] acquire such an important client like [Company].”
Based on the context, you can add a short ‘thank you’ line to your email correspondence. For example, if your prospect/customer has contacted you with an inquiry, “Thank you for reaching out” or “Thank you for contacting [Company]” is a must-have. However, whenever you put in a thank you note, it’s important to make it personalized, as standard thank you notes (like the ones mentioned above) are a bit too generic and can come off as cold or standoffish.
By simply adding a name before your thank you line, the message sounds warmer and inviting. Here’s an example: “Emily, thank you so much for contacting [Company] and for raising this issue. You’re absolutely right…”
“Hi [Name]” is probably the most common and the most widely used email salutation in the business world. This greeting is generally recommended for semi-formal and informal communication styles. If you want to be slightly more formal, “Hi” can be replaced with “Hello.”
“Dear [Name]” is also appropriate for both formal and informal communication. For your convenience, we’ve prepared a whole list of other generic greetings that you can choose from when starting your professional email. Check them out:
When writing to one or two recipients:
Dear [Name] and [Name],
When writing to three or more recipients:
[Group or team name],
When you are unsure of the recipient’s name:
Dear Hiring Manager,
Dear Recruiting Team,
Following the greeting, you can include a short opening sentence to kick-start your email. However, it’s best to avoid sentences like these if you’re writing a formal email or cold emailing a potential customer, as they can come too friendly. Here are some of the most common examples of email openers:
If you’re not sure what to write at the beginning of your follow-up email, consider including one of the following email opening phrases that can break the ice:
When replying to a customer or a prospect, a short “Thank you” line is appropriate in many cases. If you’re not sure how to incorporate a “Thank you” or need some more inspiration check out some of our alternatives:
When writing a cold email to a prospect, the first paragraph is going to determine whether your prospect will find your message worth reading, so it’s important to impress and stand out. Here are some examples of what you can include in your introductory paragraph:
If you would like to learn more, check out cold sales email templates.
Following up on a prospect, especially if they haven’t replied to your previous message(s) can be tricky. If that’s the case, try out one of these effective email opening sentences– they might be helpful!
If you would like to learn more, check out sales follow-up email templates.
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Whenever someone buys your product or signs up for your service, you should thank them, or welcome them to the ‘family’ to ensure your relationship is off to a great start. The best way to do this is by writing a welcome email that includes a thank you note, a short introduction, and any useful information.
Almost every customer service email should start with a “Thank you” note, whether it’s replying to a simple customer service request or answering a customer complaint. Here’s how it can look like:
If you would like to learn more, check out customer service templates.
When responding to angry or disgruntled customers, be sure to showcase empathy and issue an apology on behalf of your business. Here’s how you can do it:
The start of your business email (the greeting, the opening line, and the first sentence) is the first thing the recipient sees when they open your email. By starting your email in a professional way, you are more likely to create a positive impression on them. The greeting you use and the first few sentences you choose for the start of your professional business emails will depend on your audience and the context of your communication. Use the email greetings and email opening phrases mentioned above as prompts whenever you’re not sure how to start your next email to a customer or a cold prospect.
Remember to double-check your emails for any spelling or grammatical errors, and make sure you always spell the recipient’s name correctly. Our last tip is to keep it short and sweet, as nobody wants to be reading long emails. Get to the point quickly using the right tone of voice, and you’re golden.
By starting your email in a professional way, you are more likely to create a positive first impression on the recipient. When you are writing to someone for the first time, that impression is critical as it can encourage your audience to not only read your message but also respond to it.
“Hi [Nickname]” and “Hey [Name]!” are too casual and should be used only if you have exchanged emails before and have a good relationship with the recipient. On the other hand, “To whom it may concern” and “Dear Sir or Madam” are considered too formal, and a bit outdated so they should only be used in official communication or when you don’t know the exact names of the people you’re writing to.”
Starting out an email in a casual, personalized way is generally more engaging, however, writing in a too informal and relaxed style can actually put your audience off. If you’re not sure what tone to take, your safest bet is to be a bit more formal rather than overly casual and friendly. If necessary you can always adjust your tone based on the response you receive from your recipient.
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